The Real George Carlin (1973)
a.k.a. “Monsanto Presents The Real George Carlin”
Carlin’s first network special
Distributed by York Enterprises Syndication
Although George Carlin had countless short television appearances by 1973, The Real George Carlin was George Carlin’s first full stand-up comedy special. This even predates his first special with HBO, On Location: George Carlin at USC (1977). In fact, it seems this ended up being his ONLY mainstream network television special. It was finally released as part of the box set Commemorative Collection (2018) and later in The Best of George Carlin (2019).
This special was put out by “Monsanto Nights”, which I haven’t been able to find any information about, but apparently it was a variety show that would feature different performers. In fact this particular episode is a variety special, as it includes three musical guests: Kris Kristofferson, Rita Coolidge, and B.B. King. Carlin introduces each act, doing some comedy before and after each set.
Most of Carlin’s material here are his more biographical routines which showed up on his albums Class Clown (1972) and Occupation: Foole (1973). As this was made for network television, his only performances here are the ones deemed “safe” for television back in the day. So won’t hear any of the seven words, for example.
00:00-02:26 - Carlin stands next to a cardboard cut-out of his former clean-cut, suit & tie self and talks about some of the voices and characters from his old routines (Al Sleet, Wonderful W.I.N.O., etc.)
02:26-02:49 - Introduction
02:49-08:41 - George Carlin does a mix of comedy bits from Class Clown and Occupation: Foole, including the intro tracks to those albums and the various the ethnic voices. There are certainly some variations and a little bit of related additional material that never wound up on any album, though.
08:41-12:45 - After presumably a commercial break, Carlin does a little more comedy before introducing Kris Kristofferson. He does a few songs with his band.
12:45-18:21 - Rita Coolidge joins Kristofferson on stage for some more music.
18:21-22:36 - Carlin performs some more comedy, talking about the neighborhood where he grew up. A lot of the routines are what you hear on album tracks like “White Harlem” and “Black Consciousness” from Occupation: Foole. Carlin sits in a school desk to do the last few bits.
22:36-24:50 Carlin announces a commercial break. Then returns performing stand-up in a third location. He talks about gaining immunity from diseases from swimming in the Hudson River as a kid, a bit which he’d work into his live routine many years later. He also eventually gets into the material on his album track “The Hallway Groups”. He ends by introducing B.B. King.
24:50-29:45 B.B. King performs. Carlin can be seen jokingly playing some air trumpet along with the music at some point.
29:45-35:14 Carlin steps in to talk to B.B. King for a bit, before King continues his set.
35:15-49:30 George performs more stand-up, this time at the Place des Artes Concert Hall in Montreal, Canada. I think this is the only time I’ve seen a Carlin performance from outside of the United States. Most of the material here consists of variants on album tracks like “Welcome to My Job”, “Occupation: Foole”, “Wasted Time - Sharing a Swallow”, “Class Clown”, “Black Consciousness”, “Childhood Cliches”, and so on.
49:30-50:00 Carlin gives a formal closing of the special. A few miscellaneous bits that didn’t make it into the special are played over the rolling credits.