DID YOU READ

The 10 best George Carlin specials (with video)

George Carlin

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George Carlin was the greatest comedian of all time. We can argue influences and cultural impact of anyone else you might name until the cows come home, but the fact remains that nobody had the incredible longevity he had, nor did they have the intellectual flexibility to drastically reinvent themselves twice without ever losing his singular artistic voice. He’s inspired every comic worth their salt today, and he’s established the paradigm of relentless hard work and brilliance that people like Louis C.K. and Patton Oswalt aspire to emulate. He did 14 specials for HBO throughout his storied career, and here are the ten essentials from that assortment that you need to see to understand just what makes Carlin’s career the gold standard in comedy.


10. “On Location: George Carlin at USC” (1977)

You’ve got to watch the first one, right? That’s just essential. As a sign of the times, the nascent Home Box Office had to not only preface this show with audience warnings, they had to add an additional heads-up just before he launched into his signature piece about “Seven Dirty Words.” The legal brouhaha over its airing on WBAI-FM radio was still on its way to the Supreme Court, and he’d even been arrested for performing it once in Milwaukee. Aside from that, most of the show focuses on “The Little World” we all share, as he called it – similarities we share, everyday experiences, etc. – and shows us how laid back and casual he’d become after his earlier career of suits and sketch work, aspiring to be just like Danny Kaye.


9. “George Carlin Again!” (1978)

A year later, Carlin performs his second special in the round in Phoenix, and he hadn’t yet established his later M.O. of developing all-new material for each special, so there’s a bit of carryover from the first one, but a lot of new stuff as well – not to mention modifying and updating stuff from his previous albums to make sure they all get on camera. He has a lot of fun expanding on the Seven Dirty Words (amending it to include ‘poontang’ among many others), and the audience is a lively one, at one point actually tossing a joint on stage during his New News segment, as well as some Visine to ‘get the red out.’ If you know what they mean. Good thing the show also includes a send off to Al Sleet, the Hippy Dippy Weatherman.


8. “Carlin on Campus” (1984)

The transformation is beginning here. The long hair is short, the beard is graying, and he opens the show with a prayer “dedicated to the separation of church and state,” which blends the Lord’s Prayer with the Pledge of Allegiance. It’s the 1980s, after all, and the counterculture movement he’d plugged into was well into selling out. This show contains the classic pieces “A Place For My Stuff” and “Baseball and Football,” and a even a few cartoon interludes, and it ends on the most gloriously filthy and nonsensical sports cheer anyone could ever imagine.


7. “Playin’ With Your Head” (1986)

As he approached his 50th birthday, Carlin’s gray is more pronounced, his movements are a bit sharper , the gravel in his voice is increasing, and you get a sense of his slowly building towards the harsher mentality when he says things like “fuck the dead” while examining the concept of a ‘moment of silence,’ and explains that the whole reason he watches sports is to see some “serious, lifelong, crippling, debilitating injuries.” Thus, suggesting leaving the injured on the field in football, surrounding the basketball court with a gasoline fire, or land mines in the outfield at baseball games. It’s also one of his loopier outings, as he bursts into goofy spasms and weird gibberish songs at different points in the performance.


6. “What Am I Doing In New Jersey?” (1988)

Here it is. The first time Carlin came out and started focusing on “The Big World” – i.e. getting strongly political and denigrating our culture with a venom he hadn’t had before. He opens with a long list of “People I Can Do Without,” then starts to tear into the massive corruption in the Reagan administration – which is really interesting to listen to given all the delirious Reagan worship that’s become the right wing standard today. The anger is really coming out, attacking the warmongers, the church people and the anti-abortion hypocrites, where he first busts out the line “doesn’t it strike you as mildly ironic that most of the people who are against abortion are people you wouldn’t want to fuck in the first place?”

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.