Some may think of Kelly Carlin as “George Carlin’s Daughter.” Those who know her well understand that she is a smart, interesting, funny, and talented person in her own right. Kelly recently sat down with AmericasComedy.Com and discussed this dichotomy, managing her father’s legacy, and various projects she is working on.
AmericasComedy.Com: This has been a big year for you on so many levels. Your podcast, Waking From the American Dream is on Kevin Smith’s Smodcast network now. How did that come about?
Kelly Carlin: I did Kevin’s morning show and made him cry several times. It was a great experience and I asked if my show could join Smodcast. Before I could even finish my sentence he started directing his crew to make it happen.
AC: What has your experience been like so far?
KC: It’s been great. I love it. The only reservation I have is that I have Zen Buddhist masters on and sometimes Kevin’s promos are like “get ready Detroit I will be coming all over your tits next week.” So I’m not sure I really fit my demographic but I hear from so many listeners who found me there.
AC: You interview comedians on the show, but you also have spiritual guests and political guests and authors. It’s a myriad of people and philosophies.
KC: If I had a mission statement in my life it would be to expand minds. And that’s in everything I do, whether it’s a radio show, a performer, a writer a life-coach, which is something I do for people. It’s what I feel I need to do as a good human.
AC: People have asked how your sensibilities and opinions on issues are like your dad’s.
KC: I have a very different style. I respect people who have the “in your face” style and at times long to be that person. But I find I get the same results and can blow people’s minds with the more subtle approach.
AC: Your dad was known for his political opinions, but in your writing and on your show, even though you do have opinions on politics, you seem to be sick of it all. Is that because of the vitriolic discourse?
KC: Yes. There isn’t really any politicking going on right now. Politics is supposed to be an exchange of ideas. It’s supposed to be about governing. And especially if you are on a lot of social media you get bombarded with one side or the other.
I just get so weary of it and there’s no progress. I wish that people who say these things would put themselves in their political opponent’s shoes and think how they would feel if it was directed toward their candidate.
AC: Do you ever get annoyed when people introduce you as “George Carlin’s Daughter” rather than Kelly Carlin in interviews?
KC: I have three different minds about this. I understand in this culture people need to contextualize things, and that is one way to do so. And that’s fair. There’s another part of me that thinks this is okay but the person lacks maybe an ability to do research about what else is going on with me. Then there is the part of me that is so done with it.
When I traveled to London recently, where my Dad never toured, unless you are a die-hard fan you don’t really know who he is. But the average person on the street has no idea and I thought ‘I could really re-invent myself over here and be anyone I wanted.” That is the most freeing feeling I’ve had in a very, very long time.
AC: You are managing your Dad’s estate and fans have lots of opinions on what you should or should not do with the content, especially when it comes to monetizing. How do you deal with that?
KC: I, along with my Dad’s best friend and longtime manager are working on a website and a YouTube channel. We’re going to start getting tough with the YouTube videos and get those down so that we can manage what is released for free and what is not. I understand that we live in a world where people expect free stuff now, and that’s fine.
But people have to understand that there is a concept of intellectual property. My Dad spent 50 years creating this wonderful body of work. He worked is ass off for it and he sacrificed his family and his health for it. So it’s okay for us to protect it and manage it and, yes, profit from it. I’m not Michael Jackson’s family so I’m not going to be bringing in millions of dollars but I know my Dad would want to help my car payment and my mortgage.
AC: I’ve always found the argument against that from your Dad’s fans odd. I bought his books and paid for a ticket to see him live. Yet people seem to feel, because of things he said in his act, think that he would want his stuff to be given away now.
KC: Yeah, that’s really one of my favorite things when people tell me what my Dad would want (laughs). My other favorite is when people ask me what they think my Dad would think about what is going on in the world. I mean, I don’t really have a séance thing going on. And yes, he was a populist and he stood up for the working man, but he very much respected intellectual property.
AC: It’s not like the material isn’t out there either. You worked with SIRIUSXM radio to establish Carlin’s Corner, which plays his material 24/7. You also have your own show on Raw Dog. Did those things happen simultaneously?
KC: They happened at the same time. I had been in contact with the comedy people at SIRIUS XM for a while. Eventually the called and said there were some new channels coming up and this would give them a way to give me the show we’d been talking about. Interestingly enough my next show will be an interview I did with the late Phyllis Diller, which was one of the greatest days of my life.
AC: I am almost embarrassed to say that I found Phyllis Diller through the Scooby-Doo cartoons. It was only much later that I realized her contribution to comedy.
KC: Wow! That’s right! I totally forgot about that. Isn’t that wonderful? It’s like when my Dad did Shining Time Station and introduced himself to toddlers who are now in their twenties, which is actually kind of weird but, wow, that is so cool.
AC: You also have a one woman show called A Carlin Home Companion that is getting rave reviews. How is that coming along?
KC: It’s going great. Every show I have less and less butterflies. I think I am really growing into it. I’m going to Toronto with it in September. I have a showing in Santa Monica next week. We’re going to really start touring across the country next fall. Each time I find myself evolving as a performer. I love it.
Listen to Waking from the American Dream on Smodcast every Thursday at 5pm pacific. Kelly’s SIRIUSXM show is on Raw Dog Channel 99 the first Sunday of every month. Follow Kelly on Twitter here and get A Carlin Home Companion dates at KellyCarlin.com. Listen to the full, unedited audio version of this interview at Dylan Brody’s Neighbor’s Couch. Get your Dylan Brody dates and merchandise at DylanBrody.com
About the Author: Darren Staley is the host of Atari-winning podcast Dylan Brody's Neighbor's Couch, based out of North Carolina or Los Angeles. He is known in comedy circles as "Who?" or "Oh, That Guy." Darren's two biggest fears are spiders and Paul Provenza.