Judge Dennis Prince thinks if ever there was a time for the erstwhile "hippy dippy" Carlin to burn a fatty, this is it.
Dang, George. Light one up and lighten up, would ya?
It seems somewhat ironic, doesn't it, that the legendary George Carlin could morph into the sort of uptight SOB that he had mocked for so many years? In Life is Worth Losing, Carlin seems convinced there's little left to prod or parody, intent to convince us all that this existence simply sucks.
Another of his always anticipated HBO specials, Carlin is certainly sharpening his act—likely to slit his audience's collective throat. As his shows come fewer and farther in between, it seems George is perhaps a bit tired; maybe even sick and tired. As a guy who made a comedic mark by dissecting the silliest things we do in our lives, Carlin now seems to be getting what may be his final shots before it's too late. He has a storied history of inflicting the sort of doubled-over laughter that we all love to enjoy, but now he's letting us know to quit laughing and start thinking.
This is a much more serious George that many of us are used to.
There's no denying George's cleverness—his opening oratory, "A Modern Man," is sharp and smart and lets us know that this cat is definitely keeping up with the times. From here, though, the show goes into a dark and often desperate tirade that charges we've laughed ourselves stupid and, fittingly, we're deserving of the grief that is all around us now. He works from the palette of life's less-than-pleasant pastimes and preoccupations, painting a dire picture that would likely have the figure in Munch's "Scream" reason to crap its flowing gown. Having left us feeling more than infantile for our fascination with technology, Carlin takes us on a dark ride where the attractions include overeating, compulsive shopping, suicide, homicide, and even necrophilia. He'll also give you a quick tour of the teenage boy's room where Autoerotic Asphyxia is the latest in near-death entertainment. Nice.
Perhaps the whole anger thing is a gag given this is the comedian's 13th HBO special, the fifth live performance captured at New York City's Beacon Theater, this time from November 5, 2005. Dressed in all black and oddly resembling the previously-mentioned Scream figure, Carlin tends to stand and stare down the audience, lecturing and lashing out those representatives of mankind who paid admission for an evening of laughs. "Well f*** you!" Carlin seems to say, assailing those in attendance whose occasional laughter is often replaced with confusion and even consternation.
He's not doin' the Hippy Dippy Weather Man, so don't even ask.
By the end of the show, you feel you've been transported back to the Roman marketplaces where self-appointed prophets mount a stone perch and ramble assertions to any who'll stop and listen. If you're a Carlin completist, you'll probably want to give this one a listen but if you're looking for the man's more lighthearted fare, look for an older release.
This new DVD from MPI looks fine, obviously culled from a direct stream from the HBO special. As an improvement over the previous DVD release, Complaints and Grievances, this special is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen format. The image is clean and clear. The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track is more than suitable, mixed well to ensure every syllable of these Carlin-isms hits you square between the ears. There are no extras.
If you think you can take it, sit still for 75 minutes of a very cantankerous Carlin. And, if you come away, as did I, thinking this wasn't as "fun" as the comedian's previous work, you can expect Carlin's thinking, "go f*** yerself!"
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