Synopsis: Growing up in New York City, George Carlin was always the class clown. He went on to become one of the great comedians of our time, with appeal that has spanned generations. His brand of provocative sociopolitical commentary and his scathing comic style have brought him four Grammy awards, most recently in 2002. He was the first-ever host of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, and has starred in twelve of his own HBO specials. He continues to perform to sold-out audiences at venues across the country. Back in Town, aired as a live broadcast from New York City’s Beacon Theater. Features Carlin’s trademark acerbic observations on topics such as abortion, capital punishment and bodily functions. His classic routines, “Sanctity of Life,” “State Prison Farms” and “Free-Floating Hostility” are included in this hysterical stand-up comedy performance.
“The longer you listen to this abortion debate, the more you hear the phrase “Sanctity of life”. “Sanctity of life”. You believe in it? Personally, I think it’s a bunch of shit. I mean, life is sacred? Who said so? God? Hey, if you read history, you realize that God is one of the leading causes of death.”
It’s an extremely funny and topical set that incorporated lengthy bits on abortion, capital punishment, and even prison farms. Although it was recorded well over 15 years ago, it still has value to this day, what with the abortion debate and issue of crime coming up daily in our politics, like pesky flies you can’t get rid of.
I find that his material was quite sharp, overall – even though the logic lapsed at times. It’s obvious that he was trying to make a general point, not do social commentary, per se – and, in the process, raise consciousness somewhat AND make people laugh.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover that Carlin is not a complete bigot – something you might expect at first glance. He doesn’t seem to be white trash or just some cantankerous old dude; he’s supported some feminist positions, and in this show he offers some support for the gay community as well.
Speaking about Catholics, he says: “They’re against abortion and they’re against homosexuals. Well who has less abortions than homosexuals? Leave these fuckin’ people alone for Christ’s sake. Here is a entire group of people guaranteed never to have an abortion.”
Say what you will about the way that he spins it (Lord knows that he hardly ever takes a politically-correct position! ), but it’s clear that he isn’t homophobic. He probably has as much love for the gay community as he does for anyone else – which is to say that there are idiots in all milieus.
What was interesting to me is how he had short routines with specific endings to them. Unlike his previous shows, the segments weren’t all woven into one another with transitional material; this was more akin to watching a punk or hard rock concert than a prog-rock group or jam band.
I know for a fact that Carlin’s done better than this, but it’s hard to imagine after watching ‘Back in Town’. Without a doubt, it’s one of his better sets – and I rarely find comedians THIS funny; they often inadvertently misfire along the way. To think that the best is still ahead…