George Carlin: Personal Favorites

Synopsis: For more than four decades, George Carlin has made us laugh and think with his salty, provocative style of standup comedy.

This HBO Special Presentation highlights some of his best HBO concert performances in Los Angeles, New Jersey, Phoenix and New York from 1977 to 1998.

The routines include: “Hello-Goodbye,” “Earrings,” “Hitler,” “We Like War,” “It’s Not a Sport,” and later, alternate versions of two of his classics, “Baseball and Football” and “A Place for My Stuff.”

George Carlin: Personal Favorites 7.5

eyelights: the later material.
eyesores: the earlier material.

Finally, after months of watching endless amounts of George Carlin HBO specials, interviews and other programmes, I have gotten to the end of my journey, a journey that concludes with Carlin’s personalized “best of” set.

There is a lot of online confusion with regards to when ‘Personal Favorites’ was first broadcast. Some sites claim that it was first aired in 2001 (even the venerable New York Times makes that statement), whereas some suggest that it was in 1996.

Let’s clear it up: it was 1996.

I can state this with authority because shows are dated during the end credits and it clearly says 1996. Secondly, it only makes sense because most of the material dates from 1977 to 1990. Had it been made in 2001, Carlin would have had three -if not four- more shows to cull from.

I can see how someone might have confused the DVD release date with its original broadcast date, however, because people can be silly (read: stupid) that way. But the breadth of this confusion is really awe-inspiring; fact-checking is not a complicated thing to do.

But in an age where journalism has been reduced to tabloid-level quality reporting and where people believe everything that they read online as fact and consider 140-characters’ worth of text an inexhaustible supply of knowledge, it’s no real wonder.

George Carlin, were he still with us, would no doubt have had fun railing against it.

Except that he’s not here. All we have left are the video documents and written words that he’s left for us to savour. And while this particular programme is nothing special, being a compilation, Carlin had recorded 14 HBO specials by the time that he gave up on us.

Anyway, back in 1996, the following bits were his favourites (for your enlightenment, I have included the year they were recorded in as well as my own personal rating):

Hitler (1982) – 7.0
Hello, Goodbye (1986) – 7.25
Al Sleet (1978) – 7.25
Stuff (1986) – 7.25
Baseball/Football (1990) – 8.0
Pussyfoot (1977) – 7.75
Earrings (1986) – 7.25
Have a Nice Day (1982) – 7.25
Dog Incident (1977) – 7.5
Fussy Eater (1982) – 7.5
Kids (1977) – 6.75
Thanksgiving (1982) 7.75
We Like War (1988) 8.5
It’s Not a Sport (1986) 8.5

The more astute amongst you will notice that I not only included the date and a rating, but also linked the dates with my reviews for the original special each bit was featured in. That way, if you want to check it out anywhere other than on Youtube, it’ll be easier to track down.

You can thank me later.

For now, though, I want to say thanks to George Carlin for not just making us laugh so heartily, not just for changing the face of comedy as we once knew it, and not just for leaving us with such a wealth of material to enjoy. I’d also like to thank him for making ranting fun.

I sure love a good rant. And whenever I feel too out of sorts to unleash one myself, I’ll always remember that good ol’ George is there to rekindle the flame. I’ll turn to him in my time of need and, without further ado, I’ll be back on my own personal soapbox, foaming at mouth about something or other.

Thanks for paving the way, George.


Date of viewing: November 1, 2012


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