The last angry hippie unleashes another hard-edged set
Then something happened.
Perhaps it was simply age. Perhaps it was his addictions. Most likely, it was the loss of his wife of 34 years. No matter the reason, Carlin's shows, which are much rarer these days, became darker and less "fun." Carlin remains funny, but it's not the kind of funny that grows from the goofy things in life. It's the kind of funny yhat makes you laugh because otherwise you'd have to cry. There's no longer a look at the strange language of the airport or a comparison of baseball and football.
In their place, in this show, his first in four years and first since rehab, are lighthearted topics like suicide, the collapse of civilization and the hopeless masses. There are times during his show where the audience is practically silent, as Carlin depresses them with reality. Smart? Absolutely. Funny? Depends on your definition.
At some points in this set, Carlin's technique is amazing, especially during the opening beat-style poem "A Modern Man," which features wordy lyrics that would tongue-tie The Barenaked Ladies. But if you listen to the words, they are essentially meaningless. Some of Carlin's best bits over the years have been about examining the meanings of words, but here he just spits out an impressive stream of buzz words without much context. Carlin's good at these lists, as he shows later with the pyramid of the hopeless and dumb-Americans segments, but there, they mean something.
There are still some vestiges of the old George sprinkled throughout the show, especially in the sections about autoerotic asphyxia and posthumous female transplants. These moments serve as welcome respites from the black comedy, which is needed just before the avalanche that is the final two segments. Starting with people you live in the path of regular natural disasters, a shocker following shortly after Hurricane Katrina, Carlin paints an extraordinary picture of the destruction and rebirth of the universe as only he can. It's a philosophical, introspective finale his fans have come to expect from him, and it brings hope that another "Jammin' in New York" is still in him.
The audio is presented as a Dolby Digital 2.0 track but it is what it is: a stand-up act. He speaks, the audience responds. Nothing too complex and nothing handled incorrectly.
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