You can make the argument that Richard Pryor was the greatest, and I’ll hear you out.
Some will toss Lenny Bruce in there to stir it up.
But once you’ve said your piece, we’ll look at the evidence, the influence, the evolution, the final acts with their unadulterated rage and endlessly quotable wisdom, and we’ll agree that George Carlin was the greatest stand up of them all.
I daresay any number of bits he did in the ’90s would get him “canceled” now. I recall one long riff on eating disorders that almost got him picketed, even back then.
Interviewed him once, by phone. The fire alarm went off at the newspaper where I was working. He heard it, paused a beat, and said “TWO MINUTES. Get your SHIT together.”
The best there ever was, “The Natural,” the real Hardest Working Man in Show Business.
And funny, from beginning to end.
HBO brought him back from the dead a couple of times. It’s only fitting that this appreciation comes from HBO Max.
A doc in two parts, May 20, HBO Max.