George Carlin was, without a doubt, one of the top comedians in the world. Unfortunately he’s dead now; we still have one final HBO special produced prior to his death to celebrate him with.
As tends to be the case with stand-up shows, there’s not much of a central theme. The only thing that really ties together the diverse topics George goes into (aging, death, child worship, patriotism, rights versus privileges, religion, etc) is the oft-repeated declaration that “it’s all [bogus], and it’s bad for you.”
The special opens up with a protracted discussion of how much fun George Carlin is having getting old and then segues into a lengthy bit on death. Knowing that this was Carlin’s last special before he died, it kind of makes the opening twenty minutes a little bittersweet, at least on the first viewing. Of course, Carlin probably would have gotten a kick out of making people uncomfortable like that.
The entire show is quite funny so it’s hard to pick out specific bits to praise. The aforementioned rant on death, and how people talk about it, is probably the most entertaining bit.
While It’s Bad for You is unquestionably a very funny show, there isn’t much that does stand out from his prior work. It’s all new material, of course, but the topics covered (aging/death/child worship/patriotism/rights/etc) are all ones that Carlin has covered before and there’s not really any bit or bits that stand out as instant classics. It’s Bad for You is very solid, very entertaining stuff. It’s just not quite as funny nor as original as some of Carlin’s other work.
If you are a fan of George Carlin, you should love It’s Bad for Ya! If you are one of those people who never really found him all that funny though (shame on you!), then there’s not really anything here that will change your mind.
The video is presented in 1.78:1 and the audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0. Neither are going to blow you away, it’s a stand-up comedy performance; there’s no need for amazing video quality, nor do you need 5.1 surround when all the audio is coming from a sole source.
Carlin on the Jackie Gleason Show – 1969 – Footage of a stand-up bit Carlin did on The Jackie Gleason Show. It’s funny, but it’s tamer than his usual stuff (network TV isn’t really the place for his regular shtick). Also, it’s amazing to see George Carlin without his trademark beard.
Too Hip for the Room – About thirty minutes of Carlin’s three hour interview for the Archive of American Television. George reflects on his career, his philosophy and his life with occasional clips thrown in. It’s quite something to get to see Carlin when he isn’t “on”; he’s far more laid back when he’s doing the interview. The full three-hour interview is available online for free, but it’s still a nice feature.
As his last show, It’s Bad for Ya! is pretty much essential viewing for Carlin fans; it may not be his best material, but it’s still very funny and the extras are a nice bonus.
MPI Home Video presents George Carlin: It’s Bad for Ya!. Directed by Rocco Urbisci. Starring George Carlin. Written by George Carlin. Running time: 69 minutes. Rated NR. Released on DVD: November 25, 2008. Available at Amazon.