Stand-up comedy has been one of the most popular performances since the 20th century. In the early days of stand-up shows, comedians could only make slapstick and lighthearted jokes and mock people of another race, which is considered criminally offensive nowadays.
But in the 1960s, the stand-up scene in the US changed drastically. That was the growing popularity of counterculture, and comedy soon became a part of it.
Comedians couldn't even make jokes containing expletives and comments on society then. But some comedians swam against the current, challenged every backdated rule of comedy, and revolutionised stand-up comedy for what it is today.
George Carlin is considered one of the most important and influential stand-up comedians of all time and is named 'the dean of counterculture comedians.'
George Carlin's career spanned over 50 years. In his early days, he was just like other comedians of the 1960s era: clean-cut, well-dressed, and joking only on topics that followed the rules.
But Carlin decided to challenge the norm and embrace the counterculture. Soon, his 'hipster' persona made him popular among comedy audiences, making him one of the most successful comedians of the 1970s.
This iconoclast comedian started to challenge the societal attitude towards language through comedy vigorously in the early 1970s.
One of his monologues, 'Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television,' became widely popular on radio comedy shows. He tried to prove that profanity is just one of the human expressions, and humans have the right to express it. But his attempt got him into trouble with the law, as US rules didn't allow expletives to be broadcast.
Soon, Carlin and his radio station got embroiled in a legal battle against the government agency Federal Communications Commission.
The case became a landmark one when the US Supreme Court decided to change the definition of the agency's power to censor indecent materials. Carlin became a successful comedian and one of the rare comedians who won a legal battle against the government to ensure freedom of speech.
Carlin's social commentary through comedy didn't stop there. Soon he addressed many problems in American society in his shows. He discussed American consumerism, corporate greed, gun laws, abortion laws, religion, and many other matters in a humorous way. His interpretations were funny but full of wise thoughts, which was quite rare for comedians of his time.
George Carlin was a comedian who was way ahead of his time. He passed away 15 years ago due to heart failure at the age of 71 in 2008.
George Carlin paved the way for a new generation of comedians and revolutionised the stand-up comedy scenario like never before.