George Denis Patrick Carlin (May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008) was an American comedian, born in New York State in 1937. He was an Atheist until 1999, when he formed the church of Joe Pesci. He remains the only known member of this obscure denomination, which worships the suns, prays to Joe Pesci and follows a revised and shortened list of the traditional Roman Catholic Ten Commandments. He is known to point out the obvious flaws in modern American life and is a leader in the war against censorship. Carlin was noted for his black humor as well as his thoughts on Politics, the English language, Psychology, religion, and various taboo subjects. Carlin 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 narrow 5–4 decision by the justices affirmed the government's power to regulate indecent material on the public airwaves.
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The first of his 14 stand-up comedy specials for HBO was filmed in 1977. In the 1990s and 2000s, Carlin's routines focused on the flaws in modern-day America. He often commented on contemporary political issues in the United States and satirized the excesses of American culture. His final HBO special, It's Bad for Ya, was filmed less than four months before his death. In 2004, Carlin placed second on the Comedy Central list of the 100 greatest stand-up comedians of all time, ahead of Lenny Bruce and behind Richard Pryor. 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 2008, he was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.