George Denis Patrick Carlin (May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008) was an American stand-up comedian, actor, author, and social critic. He was known for his black comedy and reflections on politics, the English language, psychology, religion, and various taboo subjects. He and his “seven dirty words” comedy routine were central to the 1978 U.S. Supreme Court case F.C.C. v. Pacifica Foundation, in which a 5–4 decision affirmed the government’s power to regulate indecent material on the public airwaves. Widely regarded as one of the most important and influential American stand-up comics of all time, Carlin was dubbed by one newspaper to be “the dean of counterculture comedians”.The first of Carlin’s 14 stand-up comedy specials for HBO was filmed in 1977. From the late 1980s, Carlin’s routines focused on sociocultural criticism of American society. He often commented on contemporary political issues in the United States and satirized the excesses of American culture. He was a frequent performer and guest host on The Tonight Show during the three-decade Johnny Carson era, and hosted the first episode of Saturday Night Live in 1975.
Carlin’s final HBO special, It’s Bad for Ya, was filmed less than four months before his death from cardiac arrest. In 2008, he was posthumously awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. In 2017, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him second (behind Richard Pryor) on its list of the 50 best stand-up comics of all time. In 2004, he placed second on the Comedy Central list of “Top 10 Comedians of US Audiences”.