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The Top 5 George Carlin Standup Specials

Legendary comic George Carlin filmed over a dozen standup specials over his 50-year career—we’ve picked five of our favorites.

What took so long? HBO’s two-part 2022 documentary George Carlin’s American Dream, produced by Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio, covers the legendary counterculture comedian’s career from the ’60s up to his death in 2008.

In that time, Carlin recorded over a dozen standup specials for HBO, including 2008’s It’s Bad for Ya, which was televised live just four months before he died. To coincide with George Carlin’s American Dream, we’ve collected five of our favorite Carlin standup specials, all of which are available on-demand through free streaming services.

Cheap is good, free is better

All of the George Carlin standup specials listed here are available on-demand through free ad-supported streaming services like Pluto TV, The Roku Channel, and Tubi. Read about them and nine more in our Best Free and Cheap Streaming Services guide.

George Carlin: Jammin’ in New York (1992)

Jammin’ in New York, filmed in 1992 at the Paramount Theater, was Carlin’s personal favorite of his standup specials. Topics in Jammin’ in New York include the Persian Gulf war, airport announcements, and this assessment of climate change: “The planet is fine . . . the people are f**ked!”

Where to watch it:

George Carlin: Life is Worth Losing (2005)

Broadcast live from New York’s Beacon Theater on the eve of Carlin’s 50th year in showbiz in 2005, Life is Worth Losing was also his first post-rehab special. As the title suggests, Life is Worth Losing is a dark and introspective set, as much end-times philosophy as it is comedy.

Where to watch it:

George Carlin: Complaints & Grievances (2001)

Recorded in 2001 at the Beacon Theater in New York, Carlin’s wide-ranging Complaints & Grievances was originally to be titled I Kind of Like It When a Lot of People Die (yes, really). The special concludes with Carlin editing the “bloated” 10 Commandments down to an essential three.

Where to watch it:

George Carlin: You Are All Diseased (1999)

In 1999’s You Are All Diseased, Carlin took aim at Harley-Davidson, the House of Blues, cigars, and “man stuff” in general, his regular staples of business and religion, and the insidious evils of advertising (ouch—but yeah, we get it). You Are All Diseased is an angry set, but Carlin still pulls the laughs.

Where to watch it:

George Carlin: George’s Best Stuff (1995)

Like a greatest hits album, 1995’s George’s Best Stuff compiles 90 minutes of Carlin’s best-known standup bits, including “A Place for My Stuff,” “Dogs and Cats,” “Al Sleet the Hippy-Dippy Weatherman,” and the infamous “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” George’s Best Stuff is a perfect starting point for Carlin newbies.

Where to watch it:

George Carlin’s American Dream is available to stream on Max.

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