HBO is remembering comedian George Carlin by presenting 11 specials over the next three nights. Here's the schedule:
8 p.m. George Carlin at USC (1977)
9 p.m. George Carlin Again! (1978)
11 p.m. Carlin at Carnegie (1983)
12 a.m. Carlin on Campus (1984)
1 a.m. Playin with Your Head (1986)
8 p.m. What Am I Doing in New Jersey? (1988)
9 p.m. Doin it Again (1990)
10 p.m. Jammin' in New York (1992)
11 p.m. Back in Town (1996)
12:05 a.m. You Are All Diseased (1999)
1 a.m. It's Bad for Ya (2008)
9 p.m. It's Bad for Ya (2008)
And on Saturday, from 11:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., NBC has its own tribute planned. The network will rebroadcast the very first episode of Saturday Night Live, which aired on Oct. 11, 1975, and featured Carlin as host, as well as a film by Albert Brooks and an appearance by comedian Andy Kaufman. The musical guests were Janis Ian and Billy Preston.
Carlin does some classic routines on the show: "blue food" and "baseball versus football." What struck me when I watched them again on Monday, after hearing of Carlin's death, is how well they hold up. They're still as funny today as they were more than three decades ago, which is something you can't say about every comedian's work.
I have the first season of Saturday Night Live on dvd. While it's still broadcast from the same studio at Rockefeller Center, the show does have a different look today. In the first season, there were more musical performances, fewer skits. So it's well worth tuning in this weekend. Back then, by the way, it was called NBC's Saturday Night.
I saw the SNL studio last year when I took the NBC tour. (And it's definitely the highlight). The guide stops at two framed photographs - one of the original cast and one from today's cast. While I could name every one of the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players, I didn't do nearly as well with the current lineup.