George Denis Patrick Carlin was an American stand-up comedian, social critic, satirist, actor, and writer/author who won five Grammy Awards for his comedy albums. 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 5–4 decision by the justices affirmed the government's power to regulate indecent material on the public airwaves.
The first of his 14 stand-up comedy specials for HBO was filmed in 1977. From the late 1980s, Carlin's routines focused on socio-cultural criticism of modern American society. 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 posthumously awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.