George Carlin Documentary

Judd Apatow is best known for directing R-rated comedies like The 40-Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Trainwreck. But his passion for comedy also extends into the world of stand-up. Not only has he taken the stage himself plenty of times throughout his career, but he shined a light on the late Garry Shandling with an extensive two-part HBO documentary called The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling. Now, Apatow will return to the documentary world with a film looking at the life and career of George Carlin, the legendary comedian who recorded no less than 14 comedy specials for HBO.

In an interview with The Boston Globe (via Collider) in support of his upcoming movie The King of Staten Island (read our review), Judd Apatow revealed that he’s getting started on a documentary about George Carlin. Apatow said:

“[I’m] aboutto start work with my partner Michael Bonfiglio on a documentary about George Carlin. So I’m looking forward to watching a lot of Carlin interviews and specials. I think his work turned out to be very prophetic.”

Michael Bonfiglio previously worked with Judd Apatow on the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary Doc & Darryl, a chronicle of New York Mets players Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, who were beloved athletes who unfortunately went down a destructive path. He also executive produced The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling for Apatow, and recently came off directing another documentary about a late stand-up comedian, Patrice O’Neal.

George Carlin is considered to be one of the greatest stand-up comedians of all-time. Not only did he make sharp, hilarious observations, but he offered brilliant social criticism, making provocative and insightful observations about American culture that weren’t always politically correct. Carlin was such a riveting orator that his stand-up specials simultaneously felt like comedic brilliance and philosophy lectures. Here’s one of his most famous bits, about the seven words you can’t say on television:

George Carlin’s career really took off in the late 1960s thanks to sparking a comedy duo with a Texas radio DJ named Jack Burns. Though they only made one album together, Burns and Carlin at the Playboy Club Tonight, they remained friends for their entire lives. Carlin was also a frequent guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and became one of the most frequent guest hosts whenever Carson took a break.

Interestingly enough, George Carlin was present at the comedy club when controversial comedian Lenny Bruce was arrested for obscenity. This was a time when profanity was considered to be incredibly offensive and was looked down upon, even in comedy clubs. Carlin was asked for his identification, and when he told the police that he didn’t believe in government-issued IDs, he was arrested and taken to jail along with Lenny Bruce.

Carlin’s profile gained even more steam when he was the host of the first episode of Saturday Night Live. Throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Carlin released four or five comedy specials every decade, including the aforementioned HBO specials. On top of that, he made a few appearances on the big screen, most famously as the time traveling Rufus in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. But he also had bit parts in Kevin Smith’s movies Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and Jersey Girl, not to mention The Prince of Tides, Scary Movie 3, and Pixar’s Cars.

Sadly, Carlin died of heart failure at 71 years old back in 2008. Just four months earlier, he had completed what would become his final comedy special, It’s Bad For Ya. The outpouring of love from the comedy community that he influenced so much was overwhelming, and I’m sure Apatow has no shortage of famous friends he can talk to about George Carlin’s legendary comedy career.

A decade after George Carlin died, there was a biopic announced to be in the works from Stan Chervin, the writer of Moneyball. We haven’t heard anything about the development of that project since then, but hopefully we’ll hear more soon.

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