What Am I Doing in New Jersey was recorded in 1988, so naturally it tackles some of the events of the late Reagan administration. George Carlin sums up his essence on the track "Reagan's Gang, Church People, and American Values": "I'm the first to say its a great country, but its a strange culture!" He rants about preventative detainment, censorship, and the paradoxes of the Right to Life movement -- all of which is biting, but not very funny. Then, about seven minutes in, he gets started. Carlin protects no sacred cows, and quickly moves through cracks on bulimia, banning artificial sweeteners but not tobacco ("because a rat died!"), and other peculiar American quirks. George Carlin is at his best when assailing a culture that prioritizes corporate interests over the public good (for example, gun store owners getting lists of bad creditors but not convicted criminals) and consistently misuses the English language (the word civil in "Civil War," etc.). What Am I Doing in New Jersey has some great moments, but drags through "Keeping People Alert" and "People I Can Do Without," where he looks at society through an annoyed lens more than a bitterly funny one. "More Stuff on Cars and Driving" ends the record. Fans of Carlin's humor will not be surprised that bad drivers and driving culture bother him more than any sort of corporate crime or social insanity. The main weakness of What Am I Doing in New Jersey is that it doesn't have any choice takes on the "Garden State" at all. What a missed opportunity. Overall, a light and entertaining comedy album, but not a groundbreaking or challenging one.
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AllMusic Review by JT Griffith