George Carlin: Rebel at the Mike

George Carlin made stand-up relevant and redefined the art form

Atlantic Records / AP

George Carlin in 1975

For a comic who spent much of his career railing against America's war culture, George Carlin had some pretty good war stories of his own from his tour of duty on the 1960s cultural battlefield. Once a popular, short-haired comedian who did parodies of commercials and fast-talking DJs, Carlin saw the counterculture revolution and decided he was talking to the wrong audience. So he grew long hair and a beard and began doing routines about drugs and Vietnam and uptight middle-class values.

His old fans weren't ready for it. Carlin got thrown out of Las Vegas clubs twice for material that...

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