George Carlin: It's Bad for Ya

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7 p.m. Saturday, March 1
HBO

Still railin' after all these years, George Carlin sounds these days pretty much like he did in his 1970s heyday. Of course, he's also a codger of 70 now, so no one is going to mistake his energetically pessimistic outlook on humanity as representing a garden-fresh perspective.

But let it also be said that in "It's Bad for Ya," Carlin's 14th solo HBO stand-up special (presented live from the Wells Fargo Center in Santa Rosa, Calif.), the man can still bring it. If anything, he comes across as even more focused and driven and enraged by the status quo than he was back in "the day."

Carlin remains as vital and proudly politically out of step as he ever was, still as insightful in his observational rant as in his purported prime.

There were plenty of young adults in the audience who enthusiastically responded to this comedic Old Man River as they would a legend, not your daddy's cultural rage-aholic. The truth is that Carlin utterly deserves that respect. Not only has he earned it over the long haul, but he also continues to deliver the goods at an age when many guys would be content to kick back and pop Geritol.

The targets of Carlin's trademark venom Saturday night included aging ("I can now leave any social event early just by saying I'm tired"), young children ("It pays to remember that every child is clearly not special"), modern gadgets ("Everybody's got a cell phone that'll make pancakes and rub their balls") and Republicans ("I still refer to him as Gov. George Bush, because that's the last office he won legitimately").

While Carlin has stressed in interviews that he no longer considers himself a member of the human species for purposes of emotional self-preservation, it's obvious that he still cares far more than he lets on. While he's no longer laugh-out-loud funny, Carlin undeniably persists as a social revolutionary whose voice carries the profound, if sometimes gratingly grouchy, insight of common sense. Dare I say, we need this man's fearless perspective now more than ever.
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