Best political commentary: George Carlin or Jon Stewart?

Best political commentary: George Carlin or Jon Stewart?

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Perhaps no two comedians mastered biting, acerbic political commentary like the late George Carlin and former "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart. Carlin's stand-up routine eviscerated the status quo, called society out on its collective bullshit and famously popularized the "seven dirty words." Stewart went from a New York comic to one of the leading voices of political satire, skewering both sides of the aisle—creating an entire genre of comedy TV in the process. But who was better at it?

The Votes Are In!

After a year like 2016, we could all use a laugh. That's why we've taken 16 of the most beloved comedians of all-time and are pitting them against each other all month long! Who's the funniest? You decide and we'll announce the king (or queen) of comedy at the end of the month!

Help us crown the best comedian by voting in these other exciting head-to-head debates too:

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Funniest comedian-turned-director: Mel Brooks or Woody Allen?


George Carlin was a counterculture icon, whose long, biting monologues were the stuff of comedy legend. Carlin coined the "seven dirty words," a list of expletives you can never say on television, resulting in the comedian's arrest when he attempted the routine at a show in Milwaukee back in 1972and a high-profile Supreme Court decision. The bit catapulted Carlin's career and put him in the crosshairs of broadcast censors for decades.

Carlin was an outspoken critic of society, speaking eloquently about the cognitive dissonance resulting from what Carlin saw as American obedience to worthless belief structures and hypocritical mores. Politicians received criticism without mercy. Carlin often said he loved individuals, but hated humanity—and drew connections to our primitive animal behavior. Carlin was also an atheist, whose frequent barbs at Christianity earned him the ire of several religious groups.

"Christians worship a dead Jew on a stick."

Carlin passed away in 2008, but amassed considerable critical recognition during his 40-year career. Carlin won five Grammy awards, the Mark Twain award for humor, the American Comedy Awards lifetime achievement award, and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. He also recorded 14 HBO specials.

He was literally one-of-a-kind.


George Carlin was so prolific that it's hard to find the best routines of his career. He's had so many! But we'll give it a shot... here's one of his all-time great monologues on the American Dream.

Here's another classic Carlin bit on Americans' obsession with material things.

When Jon Stewart took over Comedy Central's "Daily Show" from host Craig Kilborn, most of mainstream America had no idea who he was. While Stewart was a familiar presence in the New York comedy scene, he was perhaps best known for MTV's "The Jon Stewart Show," which lasted all of two seasons and lived in relative obscurity on basic cable. 

Stewart transformed the "Daily Show" from a half-hour session of edgy comedy into 30 minutes of biting political satire, which rankled Kilborn's staff (many of whom stayed on during the transition period). Stewart hired his head writer from The Onion and began to cobble together a show that eventually became something of a safety blanket for war-weary libertarians and progressives during the Bush administration.

I felt like I walked in there with a very open “O.K., so this will be great,” and it was “Hey, motherfucker, you came here to kill a baby.”

Stewart's "Daily Show" was an unmitigated success that spawned the careers of several other comedy icons, including Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Steve Carrell, Larry Wilmore, Rob Corddry, Ed Helms and more. Stewart's "Daily Show" also won 18 Emmy awards, four Television Critics Association Awards, three Critics' Choice Television Awards and three Peabody awards. Stewart has also won 2 Grammy awards for his best-selling audiobooks for "America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction" and "Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race."

Nobody was able to expose the hypocrisy of politicians, journalists and moguls like Stewart. His monologues managed to juggle both irreverent humor and moments of poignancy. He was there for America after 9/11 and famously destroyed the CNN show "Crossfire" on-air (resulting in the show's cancellation).

Although many have attempted to assume the mantle he left behind, Jon Stewart is still the king of late-night satirical TV.


Here is the legendary Jon Stewart "Crossfire" interview that ultimately resulted in the show's cancellation.

Here are the top 10 "Daily Show" moments compiled by the editors at the Daily Beast.

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