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 narrow 5–4 decision by the justices affirmed the government’s power to regulate indecent material on the public airwaves. The first of his fourteen stand-up comedy specials for HBO was filmed in 1977. In the 1990s and 2000s, 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 awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
Seth Rogen is a Canadian stand-up comedian, actor, producer, director, screenwriter, and voice artist. Rogen began his career doing stand-up comedy during his teen years, winning the Vancouver Amateur Comedy Contest in 1998. While still living in his native Vancouver, Rogen landed a small part in Freaks and Geeks. Shortly after Rogen moved to Los Angeles for his role, Freaks and Geeks was officially canceled after one season due to poor ratings. Rogen later got a part on the equally short-lived Undeclared, which also hired him as a staff writer. After landing his job as a staff writer on the final season of Da Ali G Show, for which Rogen and the other writers received their Emmy Award nomination, Rogen was guided by film producer Judd Apatow toward a film career. Rogen was cast in a major supporting role and credited as a co-producer in Apatow’s directorial debut, The 40-Year-Old Virgin. After Rogen received critical praise for his performance, Universal Pictures agreed to cast him as the lead in Apatow’s directorial feature films Knocked Up and Funny People. Rogen and his comedy partner Evan Goldberg co-wrote the films Superbad, Pineapple Express, and The Green Hornet. Rogen has done voice work for the films Horton Hears a Who!, Kung Fu Panda, Monsters vs. Aliens, and Paul. Rogen married fellow screenwriter Lauren Miller in October 2011.
Bill Corbett is an American writer and performer for television, film and theatre. He was a writer and performer on the cult television show Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K), for which he voiced the robot Crow T. Robot during the show’s later seasons on the Sci Fi Channel and played the character Observer and other minor roles. In 2001, Corbett co-wrote the Sci Fi Channel miniseries The Adventures of Edward the Less with several other former MST3K writers. Since 2002, Corbett has been a member of The Film Crew, a movie-riffing comedic team comprising former MST3K costars Michael J. Nelson and Kevin Murphy. The Film Crew occasionally hosts segments between movies on the aMC, Starz/Encore and Sundance Channel cable channels in the United States. The Film Crew also maintains an infrequently-updated website (see External Links). Corbett also records audio commentary tracks with Nelson and Murphy for Nelson’s RiffTrax service and contributes regular humor posts to the RiffTrax Blog. In March 2006, it was announced that Eddie Murphy would star in the sci-fi comedy Meet Dave (formerly Starship Dave) from a screen-play by Corbett and Rob Greenberg. Brian Robbins directed the film, which debuted in theaters on July 11, 2008.
Ricky Dene Gervais is an English comedian, actor, director, radio presenter, producer, musician, and writer. Gervais achieved mainstream fame with his television series The Office and the subsequent series Extras, both of which he co-wrote and co-directed with friend and frequent collaborator Stephen Merchant. In addition to writing and directing the shows, Gervais also played the lead roles of David Brent in The Office and Andy Millman in Extras. Gervais has also starred in a number of Hollywood films, assuming leading roles in Ghost Town and The Invention of Lying. He has performed on four sell-out stand-up comedy tours, written the best-selling Flanimals book series and starred with Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington in the most downloaded podcast in the world as of March 2009, The Ricky Gervais Show.
Robert Reiner is an American actor, director, and producer. As an actor, Reiner first came from national prominence as Michael “Meathead” Stivic, son-in-law of Archie and Edith Bunker (played by Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton), on All in the Family. That role earned him two Emmy Awards during the 1970s. As a director, Reiner was recognized by the Directors Guild of America (DGA) with nominations for Stand by Me, When Harry Met Sally…, and A Few Good Men. He also directed Misery, The Princess Bride and This Is Spinal Tap. He studied at the UCLA Film School. Reiner began his career writing for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1968 and 1969. A few years later, Reiner became famous playing Michael Stivic, Archie Bunker’s liberal son-in-law, on Norman Lear’s 1970s sitcom All in the Family, which was the most-watched television program in the United States for five seasons (1971–1976). The character’s nickname became closely associated with him, even after he had left the role and went on build a high-profile career as a director. Reiner has stated, “I could win the Nobel Prize and they’d write ‘Meathead wins the Nobel Prize’.” Beginning in the 1980s, Reiner became known as a director of successful Hollywood films. Some of these films—The Princess Bride, Stand by Me, and This Is Spinal Tap— remain highly popular with fans. He often collaborates with film editor Robert Leighton, whom he also shares with fellow director-actor Christopher Guest as their go-to editor.
Penn Fraser Jillette is an American magician, comedian, illusionist, juggler, bassist and a best-selling author known for his work with fellow illusionist Teller in the team Penn & Teller, and advocacy of atheism, libertarian philosophy, free-market economics, and scientific skepticism. He occasionally notes with irony that he lives and works in Las Vegas, but he does not gamble (though he did lend his name to a book on how to cheat at poker). He has never used recreational drugs or alcohol. He is, however, an advocate of the legalization of all drugs and discontinuing the War on Drugs. Jillette is an atheist, libertarian (he has stated that he may consider himself to be an Anarcho-capitalist), and skeptic, as well as an adherent to Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy, as stated on his Penn Says podcast. Jillette is a Fellow at the libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute, and has stated that he “always” votes Libertarian. In January 2007, Jillette took the “Blasphemy Challenge” offered by the Rational Response Squad and publicly denied the existence of a holy spirit. His cars’ license plates read “atheist”, “nogod”, and “godless”. “Strangely enough, they wouldn’t give me ‘Infidel,'” he says.
Joel Gordon Hodgson is an American writer, comedian and television actor. He is best known for creating Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) and starring in it as the character Joel Robinson. In 2007 MST3K was listed as “one of the top 100 television shows of all time” by Time.com. Hodgson is currently “movie riffing” with fellow cast members of MST3K under the name Cinematic Titanic, performing live and producing content for DVDs and direct download. Building on his gift for designing toys and other gizmos, Hodgson built three robot puppets and created MST3K in 1988. He starred as the show’s long-suffering but inventive protagonist, Joel Robinson, who in the backstory is responsible for creating his own robot companions. Hodgson has claimed that the 1972 film Silent Running influenced the premise of the show.