George Carlin’s American Dream

George Carlin’s American Dream” rockets through the life of a comedy rebel.

Carlin turned everyday absurdities into legendary routines, defying norms at every turn.

It’s currently #7 on my List of Funniest Focumentaries (up to 30 now and all ranked!).

Trailer for “George Carlin’s American Dream”

Bonus Video from Carlin’s American Dream

I found this extra 10 min. video that has bonus clips of what George Carlin meant to a bunch of comedians such as Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, Hasan Minhaj and Sam Ja.

Watch “George Carlin’s American Dream”

You can stream the Carlin doc on HBO Max at (Spectrum also carries it via an HBO promotion on Spectrum).

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  • My Rating: 95/100
  • IMDB Rating: 8.3/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Ratings: 91/100 (Users); 100/100 (Critics)

Review of “George Carlin’s American Dream”

George Carlin’s American Dream,” the HBO documentary directed by Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio, is like the ultimate backstage pass into the life of a comedy legend.

This two-part doc is a wild ride through George Carlin’s life, filled with sharp wit, bold opinions, and a relentless pursuit of truth.

Carlin made a career out of saying the things everyone else was too scared to say.

His story starts in New York City in 1937. His father, Patrick Carlin, was a man of many words, literally.

The guy won a Dale Carnegie speech contest, beating out more than 600 competitors.

But it wasn’t all roses; Patrick was abusive to George’s mom, Mary.

She left him when George was just two, and Patrick died when George was eight.

It’s the kind of tough childhood that makes you or breaks you, and for George, it was the former.

Fast forward to the ’60s, and Carlin is breaking into the comedy scene. At first, he’s the clean-cut comedian, doing safe jokes for safe crowds.

But then he’s in the audience when Lenny Bruce gets arrested mid-performance. Carlin, in a show of solidarity, refuses to show the police his ID and gets thrown in jail with Bruce.

This moment is pivotal—it’s when Carlin realizes that comedy isn’t just about making people laugh. It’s about pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo.

The documentary captures Carlin’s transformation beautifully. He goes from a straight-laced performer to a counterculture icon.

One of the standout moments is his performance at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Bette Midler opens for him, and Carlin takes the stage to criticize the U.S. government over Vietnam.

People walk out. It’s a bold move that solidifies his reputation as a comedian who isn’t afraid to speak his mind, no matter the consequences.

The doc doesn’t just stick to his professional life. It delves into his personal struggles too. Carlin’s journey wasn’t a straight path to success.

There were bumps, and his career had its lows. But each setback only seemed to fuel his creativity.

When he became the first host of “Saturday Night Live” in 1975, he brought a sharp, biting humor that set the tone for the show’s future.

It was just called “Saturday Night” back then, and Carlin’s performance was groundbreaking.

One of the highlights of the documentary is Jerry Seinfeld’s commentary on Carlin’s famous bit about “stuff”—“my shit is stuff and your stuff is shit.”

Seinfeld calls it “the elevation of the ordinary,” and he’s right. Carlin had this uncanny ability to take everyday observations and turn them into profound, hilarious commentary.

It’s a reminder of why he’s considered one of the greatest stand-up comedians of all time.

Apatow and Bonfiglio also show us the man behind the microphone. Carlin’s personal life was as chaotic as his comedy.

His relationship with his wife, Brenda, was a rollercoaster, filled with love and turmoil, including battles with substance abuse. Yet, despite his personal demons, Carlin’s love for his family remained a constant.

The documentary features interviews with comedians, family, and friends, painting a vivid picture of a man who was much more than his public persona.

You see Carlin’s relentless work ethic, his passion for comedy, and his constant quest for new material. He was always writing, always performing, always pushing the envelope.

“George Carlin’s American Dream” doesn’t shy away from the darker aspects of his life, but it also celebrates his incredible contributions to comedy and culture.

His willingness to tackle taboo subjects and his unflinching critique of societal norms made him a voice for the voiceless.

He wasn’t just a comedian; he was a social commentator, a philosopher, and a provocateur.

By the end of the documentary, you feel like you’ve been on a journey through the turbulent, exhilarating life of a man who never stopped challenging the world around him.

George Carlin’s legacy is one of bravery, humor, and an unwavering commitment to truth. His story is a reminder that comedy can be a powerful tool for change and that sometimes, the most important thing we can do is laugh at the absurdity of it all.

In true Carlin fashion, “George Carlin’s American Dream” leaves you with a mix of emotions—laughter, reflection, and a deep appreciation for a man who used his voice to challenge the status quo and make us all think a little harder about the world we live in.

Thanks for reading!

Rob Kelly, Chief Maniac, Daily Doc