George Carlin was no stranger to controversy. In his 50-year career as one of America’s most poignant and provocative social critics, the irreverant actor, author and comedian left no sacred cow unsinged as he took to lobbing one grenade after the next into the comfort zones of American life. Carlin certainly aimed to provoke, but it’s the why and how of it that made him so exceptional. Beneath George Carlin’s biting sarcasm and razor-sharp wit lay a heartfelt indignation at the injustices he observed in the world around him. And far from staying to the safer path, he leapt time and again past the cliff of “common” wisdom, in the hopes of rattling us into questioning the way we live.

The Grammy-Award-winning star of 14 stand-up comedy specials on HBO, George Carlin was widely considered one of American’s most influential comedians. Whether we agreed with his acerbic commentary or not, his words always reminded us of how sharp a weapon humor can be in slicing through the surface of our assumptions — and leaving us, as he would say, “gasping for breath.”

George Carlin was posthumously awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2008, after he passed away that year at the age of 71. And in 2017, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Carlin second on its list of the 50 Best Stand-Up Comics of All Time, just behind Richard Pryor.

Here are our Top 10 George Carlin Quotes to Laugh Your Way to Wisdom.

George Carlin quotes - Top Ten Quotes to Laugh Your Way to Wisdom

Top 10 George Carlin Quotes to Laugh Your Way to Wisdom

Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

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We have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living but not a life. We’ve added years to life, not life to years.

George Carlin quotes - We've added years to life, not life to years

Don’t just teach your children to read… Teach your children to question what they read, teach them to question everything.

Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body.

Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music.

George Carlin quotes - Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music

Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough not to quit.

Some people see things that are, and ask, why?
Some people dream of things that never were, and ask, why not?
Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that.

Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.

George Carlin quotes - Inside every cynical person is a disappointed idealist


Just because you got the monkey off your back, doesn’t mean the circus has left town.

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I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, ‘Where’s the self-help section?’ She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.