This undated image shows the late comedian George Carlin, star of the HBO documentary "George Carlin's American Dream," airing May 20 on HBO. Credit: George Carlin Estate / HBO via AP

When Jerry Hamza first brought his best friend George Carlin to Maine in the mid-1980s, he said the iconic comedian couldn’t care less about the fishing that Hamza was passionate about.

Hamza, who was his manager from 1980 until Carlin’s death in 2008, said his friend was more intrigued by the bird life he saw while the pair went fishing on the Penobscot River.

“He could give a damn about fishing. He always asked what we were looking for, spending all that time doing nothing,” said Hamza, who is now in his 80s and has lived full time in Grand Lake Stream since 2010. “But on one spot on the river there was this immature bald eagle, and we got very close to it, and George was fascinated. They just stared at each other. That’s more George’s speed.”

Though Hamza’s life is generally pretty relaxed these days, the past few months have been full of excitement. Hamza earlier this month won an Emmy for the documentary “George Carlin’s American Dream,” which he co-produced for HBO. The two-part documentary, which premiered on HBO in May and was directed by Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio, is the first authorized documentary on the legendary comedian, after many years of Carlin’s estate being approached by other filmmakers to tell the comedic icon’s life story.

“I knew Judd and Michael were going to do it justice,” Hamza said. “And it’s been incredibly popular on HBO, so it’s been really nice to see the response.”

As Carlin’s manager, Hamza won multiple Grammy Awards and Cable Ace Awards alongside his friend, and sold millions of books. But the Emmy win for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special felt particularly special to him.

“I tried not to think about it too much, but when we actually won, I realized how important it was for me,” Hamza said. “It’s just too bad that George isn’t around to see it. But he’s probably somewhere out there, in a tree or something. I think about him a lot.”

Hamza fell in love with Maine as a young man and throughout the 1970s, before he hooked up with Carlin, was a country music promoter who regularly booked bands and artists in Maine. In 1985, he first came to Grand Lake Stream, an inland Washington County village that’s renowned nationwide for its fly fishing. Not long after that, he bought a cabin there, which then turned into three homes on multiple acres, where he’d come to stay in the summer. Hamza said Carlin came to visit Maine with him regularly, and though he didn’t care for fishing, he did love the fall weather and foliage.

Though the new documentary has sparked a renewed interest in Carling’s long and colorful career, Hamza said that younger generations had already begun to rediscover the “dean of counterculture comedians” thanks to Carlin’s disarmingly prescient takes on socio-political topics that are as relevant now as they were 20 years ago.

“Even before the doc came out, I think streaming and YouTube has really helped people discover him again,” Hamza said. “And let’s face it: a lot of what he talked about back then is pretty much the same now. Racism, abortion, everything. As he said, there’s a club, and all the rich people are in it, and you’re not.”

“George Carlin’s American Dream” is now streaming on HBO Max.

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.