"He seems to be retired now but, years ago in Vegas, I loved to go see George Carl do a comedy act that Johnny Carson (no stranger to great comedy acts) called "The funniest 20 minutes in show business." It basically consisted of Mr. Carl getting tangled in the microphone cord. For 20 minutes.
Ostensibly, he was there to play a harmonica solo...but before he got the first note out, he dropped the mike and then he had trouble with the mike stand. And then he knocked over a tray with his harmonicas on it. And then he somehow got the mike down his pants...and the more he tried to undo things, the more tangled and snarled and hopeless and hysterical things got.
I don't know how many times he performed it. I'm guessing 3 shows a night, 6 nights a week for 40 years. Those are very conservative numbers and it still totals out to 37,440 performances. Long before I saw him — near the end of a very long career — he had every second of the act perfected. Every movement, every gesture, every expression, he'd polished the way Nijinsky honed each step of Afternoon of a Faun. If there was a way to get a laugh in any given second of his performance, Carl had found it. A dead person would have laughed at that act — even one pumped full of formaldehyde."
Date of birth
05/07/1916 Ohio, USA.
Date of death
01/01/2000 Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. (complications from cancer)
George Carl, the legendary pantomime artist, began his career as a circus clown while still in his teens. He, his wife and two children entertained as a family of acrobats in the Kelly-Miller Circus in the early 50's. They traveled throughout the south doing two and sometimes three shows a day, six days a week. For a time the Carls were the nightly featured act at the luxurious Condado Beach Hotel in San Juan Puerto Rico.
He eventually attained international fame as a clown, vaudevillian, and slapstick comic. He appeared on numerous variety shows such as the Ed Sullivan Show, the Hollwood Palace and was one of Johnny Carson's favorite guests on the "Tonight" show-- always bringing down the house. He also worked the Crazy Horse Saloon in Paris for many years.
He appeared in a "Royal Command Performance" for the Queen at the Paladium in London and the Circus Festival of Monte Carlo honored him with an the coveted "Golden Clown" awarfor his act, presented by Princess Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monocco.
George Carl made his screen debut at the age of 79, portraying an eccentric music-hall comedian in Funny Bones (1995). He can be seen performing segments from his act in the film, which also starred Oliver Platt, Lee Evans, Freddie "Parrot Head" Davies, Leslie Caron and Jerry Lewis, and was also the last time George Carl performed professionally.