George Carlin: 40 years of Comedy

Synopsis: George Carlin: 40 Years of Comedy (1997) was comedian George Carlin’s tenth HBO special. It was broadcast live from the Wheeler Theater in Aspen, Colorado, as part of the US Comedy Arts Festival. Unlike Carlin’s other stand-up specials, this contains only 27 minutes of stand-up performance. The rest is a retrospective celebrating Carlin’s 40th anniversary in entertainment with clips of his television appearances and an interview with the host Jon Stewart. Some of Carlin’s material was repeated in his next special, You Are All Diseased.
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George Carlin: 40 years of Comedy 8.5

I thoroughly love this special. While it is rather brief, clocking in at less than an hour, it’s like a Molotov cocktail: quick, dirty and extremely effective at making a first impression. happy0027 Free Emoticons   Happy

Hosted by Jon Stewart, the opening salvo in this special is a montage of very funny bits from Carlin’s career. It’s a terrific first glimpse at George Carlin, even if it’s nothing more than a short “best of” compilation. But it really is but a glimpse: Carlin is best enjoyed monologue-ing, not shooting out one-liners, so part of his charm is lost in this segment.

However, this weakness is completely made up for with a short performance by the man himself. Carlin was on FIRE during his monologue: both pieces were brilliant and he dished them out at a furious pace. It was both hilarious and thought-provoking. love0010 Free Emoticons   Love This then-new material was later re-worked and rightly became part of his next full-length show.

The following small interview with Stewart was pleasant and funny too. It covered some of his life in brief and he and Stewart bantered and quipped effortlessly. This exchange, while somewhat insubstantial, was much more focused than the one in “Unmasked with George Carlin”. It’s a decent teaser. happy0024 Free Emoticons   Happy

Bizarrely, this extremely enjoyable and entertaining look at George Carlin is the only one of his specials that is not available on DVD. The reason escapes me, but it’s available out there. You know where. winking0002 Free Emoticons   Winking And it’s worth finding: not only is it a rip-roaring good time, it’s really the best way to introduce the icon to the uninitiated. happy0021 Free Emoticons   Happy

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