Many of the best HBO specials aired decades ago, but they are still watched and remembered today. For many great comedians, specials like these represented the turning points in their careers. Many of these specials are helping the comedians in question get new fans, even when some more recent HBO comedy specials have already faded out of the public’s consciousness.
Eddie Murphy’s 1983 HBO special Delirious was what truly turned Eddie Murphy into a household name. The special managed to combine some very raunchy humor with some darkly absurd humor. Eddie Murphy literally swore hundreds of times during the special, and yet his take on children and ice cream trucks is one of the parts that most of his fans remember today.
Dana Carvey scored a big and memorable hit with his 1995 HBO special Critic’s Choice. The comedians of the 1990s were known for their keen observational humor, and in this special, Dana Carvey managed to deliver some of the best observational humor of the decade. Many music fans will also still appreciate his singer-songwriter parodies. Dana Carvey’s skill with impersonations was prominently displayed during hisCritic’s Choice special. It’s quite possible that as a result of this special, many people started referring to the HBO channel as ‘hobo,’ just like Dana Carvey famously did here.
In 1990, comedienne Paula Poundstone gave a hilarious performance in her HBO special Cats, Cops, and Stuff. On stage, Paula Poundstone had a down-to-earth persona that allowed her to connect with audiences very well, easily bridging the gap and making people comfortable enough to laugh. Given Paula Poundstone’s impressive presence on Twitter, neither Paula Poundstone nor any of her best comedy specials will be forgotten any time soon. Since Twitter has made the gap between celebrities and their fans even smaller, Paula Poundstone’s down-to-earth persona should only become more effective.
George Carlin is one of the most famous stand-up comedians of all time, and his 1999 HBO special You Are All Diseased contains some of his most memorable and well-known comedic material. Carlin managed to cover a very wide range of topics in this HBO special, including advertising, religion, family, and cigars. Some of Carlin’s humor here was edgy and political, and some of it was cynical and instructive. You Are All Diseased is highly rated among Carlin’s long-time fans, and it’s a good choice for people that are looking for a good introduction to George Carlin’s comedy.