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Comedic timing: What makes stage to screen successful for some stand up comedians

One of the more influential and groundbreaking comedians, George Carlin, cultivated his craft and truly developed his iconic status on stage, whether it was one of the many theaters he frequented as part of a tour or his legendary HBO specials that left fans wanting more.
His transition from stage to screen, the aptly titled George Carlin Show, which aired on FOX, did little for Carlin and his fanbase. Carlin played a taxi driver and frequented a bar with the ubiquitous cast of characters that never developed into anything more than a forgettable television series that no one, outside of the Carlin faithful, are going to remember.
This flop of a show didn't deter Carlin or tarnish anything about his career, but rather simply proved that being funny as a stand up comedian doesn't always translate.
Carlin is arguably one of the greatest comedians of all time, but he couldn't get on to mainstream television with his brand of funny. Granted, Carlin was hardly a PG performer, which most likely deterred his rise to television stardom.
For some, however, who have acts comparable to Carlin, such as Louis CK and Chris D'Elia, have experienced strong to moderate success on television with Life with Louie and Undateable, respectively.

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Louis CK and D'Elia are hardly mild on stage with their acts but they've managed to keep things fairly calm with their sitcoms yet remain funny and relatively true to how they perform on stage, minus the suggestive language of course.
The real successes as it relates to television, however, as it pertains to the legions of comedians that have transitioned to the small screen is directly related to how the act can be moved essentially from one forum to another.
Look at the ones who have done it best: Roseanne, Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, Ray Romano and others of that ilk basically took what they did extremely well as comedians and played themselves as part of an ensemble cast that just worked.
Seinfeld was panned early on as an actor on his self titled sitcom, but the show is the most popular program of all time. Seinfeld's act is, with a lot of help from co creator Larry David, what you saw develop one season after the next to rave reviews.
Romano, Roseanne and Allen to some degree, although he was more character driven on Home Improvement, developed their acts into shows based on how they wrote their own material.
Roseanne played the downtrodden housewife on her self titled show and it worked. What you saw wasn't a stretch. For Carlin, that's exactly what it was for him on FOX in 1994: a stretch.
The trick is to find the right medium, and sometimes it just isn't television for even the most groundbreaking of comedians.

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