La Prensa de San Antonio
August 4, 1995 | Chito de la Torre
It was 20 years ago when Robert Klein, microphone in hand, stood before a wall at Haverford College in Pennsylvania and taped the very first uncensored stand-up comedy special to be seen on national TV. Since then, HBO has presented unrestricted original comedy in practically every form imaginable, from stand-up performances by more than 200 comics to acclaimed series that stretch the boundaries of the genre. Now, George Carlin, who has headlined more HBO comedy specials than any other comedian, adds one more credit to his resume as he hosts 20 Years of Comedy on HBO, a laugh-filled 90 minute retrospective debuting Saturday, Aug. 12 at 9:30 p.m..
Showing how HBO has changed the face of contemporary comedy, 20 Years of Comedy on HBO features dozens of classics clips, ranging from solo specials and the Comic Relieftrade markbenefits, to early appearances of today’s superstars and hit comedy series. In addition, Jerry Seinfield, Garry Shandling, Billy Crystal, Damon Wayans, Alan King, Richard Pryor, Robert Klein and Whoopi Goldberg offer their views on comedy in new interview footage.
20 Years of Comedy on HBO profiles such favorites as Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler, Andy Kaufman, Robin Williams, Rodney Dangerfield and Steve Martin. No holds are barred on the network, whether the subjects is racism (Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor and Damon Wayans), politics (Dennis Miller, Bill Maher and George Carlin), the battle of the sexes (Rita Rudner, Garry Shandling, Roseanne and Richard Lewis) or religion (Jackie Mason, Elayne Boosler, Richard Belzer, Bill Hicks and Sam Kinison).
The special highlights current superstars who received early national exposure on HBO, including Jerry Seinfield, Tim Allen, Brett Butler, Jim Carrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Paul Reiser and Roseanne. Providing a forum for performers with different approaches, HBO has nurtured such innovators as Tracey Ullman, Andy Kaufman, Pee-Wee Herman, Rowan Atkinson, John Leguizamo, Kathy & Mo, Steve Wright, whose 1988 special “Steven Wright in the Appointments of Dennis Jennings” won an Oscar in the Live Action Short Film Category), and even David Letterman before his late-night success.
The six “Comic Relieftrade mark” benefits hosted by Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams have raised more than $28 million for health care for the homeless, with everyone from Demi Moore and Sharon Stone to Sid Ceasar and Jerry Lewis appearing on the live event.