Modern standup has been around in one form or another since vaudeville, but it’s only been since the late ‘70s that the standup special has gained traction as the crowning achievement of a successful comic. Fortunately, the beginnings of the standup special were as fertile as rock ‘n’ roll’s birth 25 years prior, with many of the all-time greats setting templates right from the start.
The material always comes first, of course, but as a video document of a honed act it’s also important to appreciate the visual elements — the framing, editing, and backdrop — and how they enhance or detract from the pacing and quality of the jokes. [...]
I just released an e-book called Conversations with Carlin: An In-Depth Discussion with George Carlin about Life, Sex, Death, Drugs, Comedy, Words, and so much more, a novella-length transcript of a five-hour interview I conducted with comedy legend George Carlin in 2001. As the title indicates, I spoke to Carlin about not just expected topics such as comedy and words – two topics covered at length in the book – but also about more personal and philosophical subjects including religion, war, morality, and the importance of romantic love. Here’s an exclusive excerpt.
A year-long battle to name part of a Manhattan street after legendary comedian George Carlin is finally coming to a close after a process that lasted more than a year, according to The Columbia Spectator. A community board voted to name the 400 block of 121st Street, between Amsterdam and Morningside Park, "George Carlin Way," and now all that has to happen is for city council to approve the decision. The fight was led by stand-up Kevin Bartini, a warm-up comic for The Daily Show, who collected 9,000 signatures to support the renaming. Carlin grew up on the 500 block of 121st Street, which is where Bartini originally proposed [...]
The Paley Center for Media, which has locations in both New York and LA, dedicates itself to the preservation of television and radio history. Inside their vast archives of more than 120,000 television shows, commercials, and radio programs, there are thousands of important and funny programs waiting to be rediscovered by comedy nerds like you and me. Each week, this column will highlight a new gem waiting for you at the Paley Library to quietly laugh at. (Seriously, it’s a library, so keep it down.)
On June 9th, 1980, in the midst of filming the movie Bustin’ Loose, Richard Pryor set himself on fire while freebasing cocaine as the [...]
George Carlin recorded his first solo album in late 1966. On it, he does a bit about a folk protest song that airs on a fictional radio station called Wonderful WINO. Carlin sings the song — by a group he calls Danny and the Demonstrators, no less — in a goofy, drugged-out voice. The song goes like this:
“Don’t want no war/Don’t want no war/Don’t want no war. Don’t want no job, neither!”
The audience goes nuts. The bit kills.
The album that bit comes from, Take-Offs and Put-Ons, was recorded at the end of the first phase of Carlin’s stand-up career. You could call it the straight phase. [...]