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Carlin’s career busts and benchmarks

1957

  • While training to be a radar technician in the Air Force, Carlin works as a disc jockey for KJOE in Shreveport, La. He’s soon booted from the service when officers deem him an “unproductive airman.”

1960

  • A year after teaming with Jack Burns to form a radio comedy duo in Fort Worth, Texas, the pair head to Hollywood to pursue a nightclub career as Burns and Carlin. In October, the duo — who stay together until 1962 before amicably parting ways — make their first TV appearance on “The Tonight Show” hosted by Jack Paar.

1965

  • Merv Griffin’s talent scouts catch the 28-year-old Carlin — who has returned to New York in an effort to kickstart his solo career and better provide for his wife and daughter — working on his material at a Greenwich Village club. He’s soon performing signature routines such as “The Indian Sergeant” on all the big TV talkshows.

1972

  • Carlin records “FM & AM,” a Grammy-winning comedy album that plunders such previously unmocked topics as “11 O’clock News” and “Sex in Commercials.” Also included is an “Ed Sullivan Show” routine that eloquently displays his broad dynamic range of style.

  • Carlin is arrested on obscenity charges while performing his “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” routine at Milwaukee’s Summerfest. “Narrowly escape big cocaine bust by giving shit to the Siegal-Schwall Band while exiting stage,”reads the comic’s diary entry for the day. “Band thrilled.”

  • A New York radio listener complains to the FCC after WBAI plays the “Filthy Words” cut from Carlin’s “Occupation Foole” LP. The complaint triggers a long-running indecency case that finally ends five years later in the Supreme Court, with that highest of legal bodies ruling against broadcasters’ use of certain profanity on the air.

1975

  • Carlin is the first-ever host of “Saturday Night Live.” He only performs standup and introduces guests, but does appear in sketches during an encore visit to the NBC latenight show in 1984.

1977

  • Carlin films “On Location: George Carlin at USC,” the first of his 13 concert specials he’ll produce for HBO. Word of the impending production sends the FCC scurrying into hearings, but a fedreal appeals court gives Carlin the OK. Newsweek columnist Shana Alexander opens the program with a rather elaborate language disclaimer.

1989

  • Carlin plays Rufus in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” perhaps the most well-known of his myriad supporting roles. Although film acting was one of his principle ambitions growing up in New York, he develops an indifference to the craft over the course of his career.

1994

  • Carlin gets his own sitcom. “The George Carlin Show” — which features the comic in the lead role of cabbie George O’Grady — performs well enough as a midseason replacement that Fox brings it back for season two. It lasts a total of 27 episodes. “Loved the actors, loved the crew. Had a great time. Couldn’t wait to get the fuck out of there,” Carlin writes.

2004

  • Carlin is actually pleased when Wal-Mart declines to sell his fourth book, “When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?” He chose the title for its ability to simultaneously offend all three major religions as well as vegetarians. The book is notable for a tone that’s darker and more critical than previous Carlin writings.

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