06/04/1990 at 01:00 AM EDT
HBO (Sat., June 2, 10 P.M. ET)
More than ever, comedy success seems founded on offensiveness (Yo, Dice). Carlin, in his seventh stand-up special for the channel, uncharacteristically enlists the shock troops. As he spews out jokes designed to bait feminists, gays, the physically handicapped and others, he even keeps a running tab: "Well, that's another group that's going to be mad at me." Carlin still has an engaging, emphatic delivery, but his barbs lack a sincere sting. Instead, he just sounds crotchety.
He grows more interesting later in the performance, bemoaning how imprecise and euphemistic our language has become. The problem is that semantics lessons are no funnier than insults.