Posted: 03/05/2003


George Carlin: Playing with Your Head and What Am I Doing in New Jersey?


by John Kessler

The first two DVD’s in a series of 12 HBO specials, released by MPI Home Video.

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MPI Home Video is in the process of releasing George Carlin’s 12 HBO specials on DVD. Although these DVD’s may feel a little dated, that’s what MPI Home Video is all about. MPI is a nifty little video distribution company that specializes in older and often difficult to find television programs. The company has an extensive collection of Carlin videos and everything from The Honeymooner’s to Dark Shadows to the travel log Going Places and the ‘60’s British rock & roll show Hullabaloo. If you are of a certain nostalgic age the MPI website is definitely worth a look.

In Playing With Your Head Carlin lets loose with the classics “Losing Things” (“I hate to lose anything. I don’t wanna’ lose anything, because, ‘where is it?’ See, basically, that’s the part that bothers me the most. I’m a practical guy…’Where is it? I just had it.’ You know that feeling, ‘IT WAS JUST HERE!!!’”), “Charities,” “Sports,” “Hello and Goodbye” (“Hey! Have a good one”. “I already have a good one, I need a longer one.”), “Battered Plants,” and others. The DVD also includes a pretty funny short titled “The Envelope” that co-stars Vic Tayback of the old sitcom Alice.

What Am I Doing In New Jersey keeps up the same pace with “Cars & Driving,” “Reagan’s Gang, Church People and American Values,” and “People I Can Do Without.” Although this is the lesser of the two DVD’s, Carlin fans will still love this trip to the near past.

The one constant here beside the laughter is the beginnings of the bitter Carlin. Blame it on the Reagan era if you want, but this is Carlin at his best. At once the social critic that does not give a f*** (his word) what you or anyone else thinks AND the gentle observer of daily minutia.

At $19.98 these nicely transferred DVD’s from MPI Home Video are definitely worth a look.

On a related note, my mother attended a Carlin concert at the Warner Theatre in Erie, PA this past Sunday. She said it was “ok,” but what stood out most was the way Carlin handled a heckler. Apparently the heckler told Carlin that he stunk, prompting Carlin to unleash a string of profanity that, my mother thought, was neither clever, funny, necessary or should even be repeated in a barroom full of sailors. All the more reason to check out the mid ‘80’s Carlin.

John Kessler is a writer and professional procrastinator stalking the nightlife in San Francisco.

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