This two-night biography called “George Carlin’s American Dream” dives into the late star’s multi-decade career, and features old home videos, audio recordings and previous tv show clips.
His brother, Patrick, his first wife Brenda Hosbrook and his daughter, Kelly all share first-hand accounts of Carlin.
The biography – the second installment of which drops Saturday night – dives into Carlin’s past, including his relationship with his abusive father. Directors Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio showcase Carlin and his ex-wife Hosbrook’s use of alcohol and drugs, which made a heavy impact early on in his career.
The documentary also presents what drove the comedian to alter his approach to comedy.
The comedian died in June 2008 due to heart failure. He was 71.
Carlin not only left behind not only a series of memorable routines, but a legal legacy: His most celebrated monologue, a frantic, informed riff on those infamous seven words you can’t say on television, led to a Supreme Court decision on broadcasting offensive language.
The counterculture hero’s jokes also targeted things such as misplaced shame, religious hypocrisy and linguistic quirks — why, he once asked, do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway?
Carlin, who had a history of heart trouble, went into St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica in June 2008 complaining of chest pain and died later that evening, said his publicist at the time, Jeff Abraham. He had performed as recently as the weekend prior to his death at the Orleans Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas.
“He was a genius and I will miss him dearly,” Jack Burns, who was the other half of a comedy duo with Carlin in the early 1960s, told The Associated Press at the time.
Carlin constantly breached the accepted boundaries of comedy and language, particularly with his routine on the “Seven Words” — all of which were taboo for the time.
When he uttered all seven at a show in Milwaukee in 1972, he was arrested on charges of disturbing the peace, freed on $ 150 bail and exonerated when a Wisconsin judge dismissed the case, saying it was indecent but citing free speech and the lack of any disturbance.
When the words were later played on a New York radio station, they resulted in a 1978 Supreme Court ruling upholding the government’s authority to sanction stations for broadcasting offensive language during hours when children might be listening.
The four-hour biography will be streamed on HBO Max.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.