On Location

George Carlin at USC (1977)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy
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George Carlin's first ever comedy special, filmed live at the University of Southern California. Here, he talks about monopoly, flying on planes, random thoughts, walking, and other things.

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George Carlin's first ever comedy special, filmed live at the University of Southern California. Here, he talks about monopoly, flying on planes, random thoughts, walking, and other things.

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1977 (USA)  »

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George Carlin's first HBO special. He would go on to do a total of 14 HBO specials until his death in 2008. See more »

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Followed by On Location: Carlin at Carnegie (1983) See more »

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George's FIRST HBO Special
6 July 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This is George's first HBO Special from 1977 - "On Location with George Carlin"... his earliest concert performance available on video. He is playful from the very start. Even before he has spoken, he tries to get laughs from the mic lead. He doesn't seem completely comfortable, and talks about being nervous - which seem quite genuine. A new phase of his career is starting... after the age of 40! He begins as gently as he can, with observations of shared modern life. The comedy of common experience. Stuff he's done on his albums, which he knows is reliable, and very audience-friendly. He clearly feels the need to get off to a solid start. He tries so hard to be visually funny that his mimes are probably too exaggerated, and to me sometimes distract from the material. Not everything he does works, but the encouraging audience lets him miss a few times as long as keeps trying to come back with another hit.

Unfortunately, some of the observations seem inane to me in 2005. Dogs and cats! I ask you. I suppose it's not his fault that subject has been done to death since then... to such a degree to make that a comedy cliché in itself. In the middle of the show, George takes time out to do his contrived news items - showing his mastery of set-up punchline jokes.

What George Carlin also does that no other comedian has done to such a degree is to analyse language. Not just phrases, but individual words. And things like oxymorons (look it up if you don't know what it means!). The stuff that flies by in our daily lives, that we all accept without thinking about it. There in practiser we have a principle that George talks about when describing how to create comedy - "Anything we ALL know about, nut NEVER talk about... is FUNNY." George ends this show with his stuff on language concerning "the words that can't be used on TV." Here we have another principle in practiser. Leave your most controversial or edgy material till last, because you won't be able to follow it.


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