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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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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