Stand-Up Comedy from the 1970s


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This section is for stand-up comedy from the 1970s. By default they are presented starting with the ones ranking highest on the laugh-o-meter, but you can also sort them by year, title or IMDB rating.

Stand-Up Comedy from the 1970s sorted by Laugh-o-meter (descending)

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George Carlin: George Carlin at USC DVDGeorge Carlin: George Carlin at USC (a.k.a An Evening with George Carlin)
      1977 | USA | Laughs: 8.0 | imdb: 7.9
      wikipedia | who was involved?

In the first of Carlin's twelve HBO specials, you see George at his handsomest—two months short of forty—on a simple but groovy 1970s set. His animated face can sometimes remind you of Russell Crowe or Bill Murray. My favorite bits are those about shopping in the supermarket; how people sometimes miss a step on a staircase; getting dogs to look at something; what it was like, as a kid, to be small in a world built for big people; and portions of the very long (a bit too long for my taste) segment about strange words and dirty words. (Last viewed: August 2010)

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Richard Pryor: Live in Concert DVDRichard Pryor: Live in Concert
      1979 | USA | Laughs: 6.0 | imdb: 8.2
      wikipedia | who was involved?

When this show was taped, Pryor's "white people do this… black people do that" routine and use of foul language may have been cutting-edge material. Today, these aspects of the show feel tired. But there's lots left to like, from the skits about hunting in the woods and about boxing with Mohammed Ali to the fact that Richard is just a beautiful, mesmerizing performer. Just for those, I'd watch this tape again in ten years. A few laughs guaranteed, smiles throughout. (Last viewed: November 2010)

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Robert Klein Revisited DVDRobert Klein Revisited
      1977 | USA | Laughs: 6.0 (Laugh and Smile) | imdb: 7.0
      who was involved?

It always intrigues me to see how far you can go back in time and still find a stand-up comedy set funny. There is a point at which you no longer relate to the material, the decor looks too odd, even the comedian's voice and intonations sound alien. With poor comedy, the loss of connection happens a lot sooner. For me, this nearly 40-year-old set still has something, but that might be different for someone born in 1998. Klein drops a few names that have long since receded from the limelight, but that doesn't really matter as Klein's material is largely of the general (though probably not universal) kind that can survive several generations. I laughed a few times and thoroughly enjoyed the show. Among other talents, Klein has great control of his voice—he even sings beautifully. That being said, don't expect an intense experience fueled by rapid-fire jokes. This is a show to watch if you're not feeling at your mental prime and are in the mood for something comfortable that is not too challenging. (Last viewed: September 2013)

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George Carlin: Again! DVDGeorge Carlin: Again!
      1978 | USA | Laughs: 5.9 | imdb: 8.3
      wikipedia | who was involved?

A good show that I would not bother watching if you've seen George's Best Stuff. A gorgeous circular stage shows us a forty-year-old Carlin at his most animated as he whirls around to face different sections of the audience. I liked the segments about time measurements and about Al the weatherman. The show ends with what is perhaps the longest and best taped rendition of the "dirty words" routine. The credits roll as Carlin dances madly on the stage to an Irish tune, giving the audience another excuse to exhaust itself in applause. (Last viewed: September 2010)

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Steve Martin: On Location posterSteve Martin: On Location
      1976 | USA | Laughs: 3.5 (Chuckle) | imdb: 7.7
      who was involved?

I'm not a fan of Steve Martin's (both his acting and stand-up comedy usually tend to leave me cold) but I enjoyed the first part of this show very much. It didn't make me laugh out loud, but at least I got to chuckle while discovering a range of skills I never knew Steve had, from juggling to playing the banjo.

The delivery reminded me very much of George Carlin. If it is the case that Steve was inspired by George, then perhaps it is a shame that he later developed his own style, which never did much for me.

For me, the end of the show was as boring as Steve's usual act. (Last viewed: August 2018)

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Robin Williams: Off the Wall posterRobin Williams: Off the Wall
      1978 | USA | Laughs: 0.2 (Just Awful) | imdb: 8.1
      who was involved?

Very loud, very frantic, very unfunny. I know everyone's supposed to love Robin Williams, but to me this set is garbage. The man's utter lack of sense of timing could be a side-effect of the coke—it's no coincidence that the shot of Robin walking to the stage shows him rubbing his nose. Maybe this indigestible material was always meant to be performed to drunks or people on drugs. For me stand-up comedy works when the comedian manages to create some degree of empathy or rapport with the audience. It's hard to have any empathy when the comedian is behaving like a crazed monkey. (Last viewed: November 2018)

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