By anyone's definition, George Carlin is a comedy legend. And if you have HBO Max, the two-part documentary George Carlin's American Dream is definitely worth a viewing, even if you're not a George Carlin fan. Released in May of 2022, it's a fascinating deep dive into the man's psyche and personal life, and a rare glimpse at how a genius goes about his craft.

A Special Screening Of The HBO Documentary Film "George Carlin's American Dream" At Pure Nonfiction
Getty Images for HBO

One of the more interesting aspects of George Carlin's career is how it's very clearly divided into two parts. Carlin began as a very clean-cut, "safe" comedian who was a darling on black-and-white variety shows of the era. Then there was a dramatic shift in the type of material Carlin would perform -- which, according to his own admissions, may have been spurred by an acid trip.

George Carlin Performing On Stage
Getty Images

From a personal perspective, I much prefer the later career of George Carlin, with his acerbic, cynical viewpoints. As an angst-riddled teenager, I found Carlin's material darkly refreshing, and I would wait with bated breath every time he'd release a new HBO special, which he did with regularity.

But there are other people -- older, obviously -- who prefer the pre-anger, cleaner George Carlin, and his classic bits such as the "Hippy Dippy Weatherman." This material still has its charms, even if it isn't quite as daring. It could be argued, though, that just the act of portraying a "stoned character" on television in this era was cutting edge, even if it was being done subtly.

During the HBO film, they show a clip of one of George Carlin's early TV appearances on The Jimmy Dean Show. In the clip, he briefly references Utica, which I thought was pretty cool. Check it out below:

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