George Carlin: Jammin’ in New York

Synopsis: When George Carlin is asked which HBO concert is his favorite, his answer is always, Jammin’ In New York. The reasons are several: It was his first HBO show done live; it was the first he had done in his hometown, New York City; and it was the largest audience he had ever worked before: 6,500.

But Carlin says it also represented a newfound sophistication in his writing. “It was the first time I had done truly extended pieces consisting of separate sections all flowing together. It was a big leap for me.”

The show, taped at the Paramount Theater in Madison Square Garden and winner of the 1992 CableACE Award, is a perfect blend of biting social commentary and more gently-observed observational pieces: Rockets and Penises in the Persian Gulf, Little Things We Share, Airline Announcements
Golf Courses for the Homeless, The Planet is Fine (The People are Screwed)

George Carlin: Jammin’ in New York 8.0

“The upper class keeps all of the money, pays none of the taxes. The middle class pays all of the taxes, does all of the work. The poor are there just to scare the shit out of the middle class. Keep ’em showin’ up at those jobs.”

‘Jammin’ in New York’ is George Carlin’s first HBO show to be broadcast live, instead of being pre-recorded. For reasons unknown, it’s apparently (according to the ever-reliable interwebs winking0002 Free Emoticons   Winking) a different performance from the VHS release, which was from another night and is supposedly tighter.

Carlin’s flow and energy are quite excellent. My only gripe is that he seemed to briefly forget some of his routine along the way, going the wrong way for one brief line (and apologizing to the audience). He also hesitated at a couple of instances. Of course, being a live performance, this is not uncommon – and I’ve seen worse from other veterans of the stage.

His political material was reused for the ’40 Years of Comedy’ special – and for good reason, as it’s a total riot. love0010 Free Emoticons   Love The rest was pretty good but it was not nearly as funny as some of his past material. Mind you, his whole bit on homelessness vs. houselessness and golf courses was especially awesome. happy0018 Free Emoticons   Happy Slightly exaggerated, sure, but he had a point to make and he made it clear.

As can be expected, the stage design was as intricate and impressive as it’s been thus far. As he carried on with his career, writing more and more material, lining up more and more shows, amassing more and more fans, I gather that he could afford to invest more into the production. Either that, or HBO had more faith in him as time went on.

Whatever the case may be, ‘Jammin’ in New York’ may have a lame title (most of them do, when you think about it…), but it’s an excellent show. It’s a good example of later-period Carlin, the one that my generation likely discovered first and fell in love with. Anyone who enjoys a good rant would have a blast watching Carlin spewing venom left and right. But mostly right. happy0021 Free Emoticons   Happy

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