*Please note that "best-selling" is a relative term
Outside Looking In
The Seriously Funny Life and Work of George Carlin
John Corcelli, author of Frank Zappa FAQ, takes a deep dive into the comedic artistry of George Carlin, one of America's most important funny men. From his early radio days to his most successful comedy albums, Carlin changed the way stand-up comedy was written and performed. He was the king of all media: print, recordings, movies, television, and the fourteen quintessential HBO Specials that still resonate with fans. Carlin's gift for gab was founded on his ability to understand the human condition and express his politically incorrect views with powerful insights.
Carlin's contributions to popular culture have had a salient and lasting impact as a result of their prescience and visionary nature. Along with Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor, Carlin is considered part of the holy trinity of stand-up comedy. He opened the door to what was possible in stand-up beyond simple joke telling. Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, and Stephen Colbert all owe a little something to their success today from the groundbreaking work of George Carlin.
In Outside Looking In, Corcelli reveals how Carlin's mother nurtured him as a child performer, his stint in the USAF, his first act with Jack Burns, and how he was able to transition from a clean-cut performer doing the "Hippy Dippy Weatherman" into the counter-culture satirist with a ponytail.
Frank Zappa FAQ
First Published: August 1, 2016
In his first book, author John Corcelli reveals Zappa's roots as a musician, from his diverse influences to his personal life. We also learn more about his former band members and the enormous musical legacy inherited by his son, Dweezil. The book features a juried examination of Zappa's recordings and his videos. It also features a complete discography and a recommended reading list. Each chapter has a special focus on Zappa's life, with sections covering his family, his home studio – known as the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen – his keen interest in the Synclavier (a device he first used in 1980), his guitars, and more. Special attention is paid to the Mothers of Invention.
"A clear and concise volume that is flat-out essential for fans of Zappa. The author truly is able to capture the many artistic worlds explored by Zappa..."
- Robert Kinsler, Music Writer
"A great starting point for the curious, and a handy reference book for devotee."
- Alun Hamnett, Record Collector Magazine
"It’s hard not to like the manner in which this book is structured or the information it contains."
- Jedd Beaudoin, Pop Matters
John Corcelli was born and raised in Toronto. He’s a musician, actor, radio producer and writer.
He considers music his “religion”, with a love for all of its forms especially Jazz. Corcelli graduated from Toronto Metropolitan University (Ryerson) in 1984 with a Radio & Television Arts degree, one that laid the foundation for a career in broadcasting with Radio as his preferred format to educate and entertain.
He made his stage debut in 1998 with the Scarborough Theatre Guild. He’s also studied with Sears & Switzer and Second City (Toronto). Corcelli made his directorial debut in 2010 with the Village Players production of The Price by Arthur Miller, a superlative moment in his life.
In 2021, after 18 years, Corcelli retired from the CBC Music Library. During those years he produced some radio docs. One of his favourites was the eight-part series, RPM: Indispensable Canadian Pop Albums. To mark the 100th anniversary of its sinking, Corcelli produced a documentary about the musicians who played on the Titanic, called Hartley’s Violin.
Corcelli plays clarinet and soprano sax but not at the same time. From 2010 to 2016 he was member of the Festival Wind Orchestra. Today, he makes music in small groups.
He's currently working on a book about film composer
From 2010 to 2019, John was a regular contributor to Critics At Large, which publishes thought-provoking, independent criticism on all aspects of popular culture, by an international group of writers. With a focus on music and books about music, John has written about everyone from The Tragically Hip to Johnny Cash. Click here to explore a selected collection of the best of John's critical writing.