Judge Dennis Prince remembers the softer, hemp-inspired days of George Carlin. Seems someone has since raided the comedian's window box and man, is he ever pissed off.
No—this isn't your parents' "Hippy Dippy Weather Man."
Once the spokesman for all things weird, whacked-out, and just plain freaky, the drug-stumping, erstwhile hippy George Carlin has gotten cranky of late. Now, he's always had an axe to grind with one slice of society or another, and in between bong hits he would playfully yet pointedly isolate and assail whomever had pissed him off in his standup routines. Well, the years haven't been too good for our "Wonderful Wino," our "Hippy Dippy Weather Man," our perennial yucking-it-up yogi. Our low-brow, low-flying, low-blowing funny man has apparently traded in his water pipe for a flame thrower, which he freely discharges with fury-inspired abandon. This guy's really pissed off now, as evidenced in this tickling yet tyrannical tirade, George Carlin—Complaints & Grievances.
Hold onto your butt, Martha—I think this guy's on peyote.
Appearing in his 12th HBO special, this live show, recorded on November 17, 2001 at New York City's Beacon Theater, was originally entitled "I Kinda Like It When a Lotta People Die." Until the evening of September 10, 2001. After the terrorist attack, he saw the sense in renaming his show, and did. He's edgy and angry about the events of September 11th, yet it's unclear with whom he's angry: the terrorists or the current Administration. No matter, because he doesn't spend too much time dwelling on potentially polarizing yik-yak and, instead, unveils his own brand of biological counter-terrorism to smoke the terrorists out of their Afghani caves (it's classic Carlin). With that said and done, he moves into the meat of his act, delving into side-splitting discussions of traffic accidents, things that come off your body, and why he hates people named 'Todd' and 'Tucker.' He wraps with his version of how to trim the 10 Commandments.
As I mentioned, this isn't that hip and flip yippee of decades past, nor is it the soothing Mr. Conductor from his stint on Shining Time Station. The material is truly laugh-out-loud funny, but it carries with it an element of deep frustration and fury that doesn't seem part of the act (to my ears and eyes, anyway). No doubt, the entire nation was on a hair trigger edge in those first several weeks after the attack on America. So if Carlin was unusually ticked off, I say, "yes, I understand." And, perhaps, given that Carlin's been at this for over 40 years now, it's possible he's just growing exasperated with thoughts like "haven't I taught you anything in all these years?"
He wastes no time getting started, letting us know that his act incorporates an unending stream of obscenities that go well beyond the original "7 Dirty Words You Can't Say On Television." Yet, as you might expect, Carlin does manage to dig into his 40+ year career bag of tricks for a few repeats:
"…reminds me of something my grandfather used to say to me: 'I'm gonna go upstairs and f*** yer grandma.'"
It's no surprise we see Mother Gore's "Parental Advisory" label on this one—certainly a badge of honor in Carlin's eyes.
This new DVD from MPI looks pretty good, obviously culled from a direct stream from the HBO special (you'll find the text bleeds and the HBO watermark throughout the presentation). The full frame image is clean and clear, but a bit dark (due to the stage lighting). The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track is more than suitable, mixed well to ensure Carlin isn't drowned out by the audience's laughter. There are no extras.
While it runs just a scant 57 minutes, George Carlin's Complaints & Grievances DVD will leave you thoroughly worn out from laughter and cringing, alternately. If you're a student of Professor Carlin from the 1970s, understand that he wields a much sharper rapier wit today, compared to his days of taking mostly about pot and poop. His most humorous moments come from his wacky voices and precisely-timed vocal inflections—that's still alive and well in his current repertoire. Shoo the kiddies away and have a good time with this one. Who knows, you may even learn something about yourself this time around.
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