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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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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…