Blu-ray Review: GEORGE CARLIN – It’s Bad for Ya

MPI Home Video
Release date: November 25, 2008
MSRP: $24.98 Blu-ray, $19.98 DVD

My grandpa Jack was a gruff, cranky old man. He drank too much, had a basement bedroom filled with bleak books about the Ukraine, and used to tell my grandmother to “Quit your babbling, woman!” and mean it. He also made up the best stories about half-horses and other nonsense, buried pocket change in a bucket of sand so my brother and I could harvest coins from the Magic Penny Garden, and took us for sundaes at the Dairy Queen. In addition, he owned–and wore–a baseball hat that said: Wisconsin! Land of Cow Shit and Beer Farts.

My grandpa passed away when I was in seventh grade, and so I don’t remember if he was a George Carlin fan. I do, however, imagine they’d get along just fine. I like to think of the two of them, cussing and grumbling, shooting the shit up there somewhere…smiling down at me as I type this. (Just kidding about the last part. If you’ve seen It’s Bad For Ya–Carlin’s last HBO special before his death this past summer–you’ll know why.)

George Carlin was an icon of American comedy, and a master of envelope pushing. In It’s Bad for Ya he skewers faith, American rights, the afterlife, child worship, sports idols, the self esteem movement, George W. Bush, and death itself. It’s oddly liberating to see Carlin, looking every one of his 71 years, actually mocking death, giving it his patented Fuck You. It’s Bad for Ya may lack the lighter moments of some of his earlier specials, but it’s one of Carlin’s funniest in recent memory.

Special features include Too Hip for the Room (2007), which is excerpted from a candid interview with Carlin; it provides some fascinating insight into his evolution from a conventional comedian to a writer and philosopher, who used humor to inspire deeper thought. The other special feature must be seen to be believed: Georgie on The Jackie Gleason Show (circa 1969), in a suit and tie, with short hair, doing a clean, non-confrontational routine. It’s almost more shocking than his main event joke about grandmas in hell. I’m just sayin’.

In accordance with his wishes, there were no public or private services held for Carlin upon his passing; so in a way It’s Bad For Ya plays like an F-bomb laden benediction; an appropriate, offensive, hilarious, and thoughtful final bow for a brilliant career.

Order George Carlin’s It’s Bad for Ya on Blu-ray from Amazon.
Order It’s Bad for Ya on DVD from Amazon.

Jill Lynch
For more reviews from Jill, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.