Thursday, January 2, 2014

Top 10 Comedy Albums of 2013

How was your 2013? If you’re a fan of comedy - good comedy - then it was a great year. As always, I really struggled to narrow my list down to ten and was this close to going with 12 or 13 and calling it the “best of” instead of the “Top 10.”

But, upon fresh listenings, I was able to finally come up with a list I’m pretty happy with (Sorry, Louis CK and Pete Holmes. You have no idea how hard it was for me to cut you, but something tells me you’ll be OK). Although these CDs are listed in a 1-through-10 format (or, actually, a countdown of 10-through-1), you could probably take the list, jumble it up, and I wouldn’t argue with the new order. 

So, here they are. The albums from 2013 that made me laugh, think, and laugh again the most. Enjoy! Feel free to leave your favorites in the comments below. 


10. Dylan Brody’s “Writ Large”

Dylan Brody uses words like Charlie Parker used his sax. He’s not telling stories, he’s making music. “Writ Large” isn’t just a CD, it’s an experience. When the final track has played out and you’re left with just yourself and Brody’s tales still dancing in your head like the lingerings of a melodious hook, it’s not unlike what you feel after witnessing a really good live jazz set. You can’t quite put it into words, but you know you’re glad to have been there to feel it.



9. Steve Gillespie’s “Stever Fever”
Hi. My name’s Steve Gillespie. How are you? I’m just gonna put this right here. What is it? Oh, not much. Just an incredible debut CD. That’s right. I’m just gonna make my introduction to you one of the most incredibly funny CDs you’ve heard in a long time. Is that all right? You don’t mind that my very first CD blows everything else out of the water? Cool. (Sorry. It’s the Stever Fever talking).



8. Iliza Shlesinger’s “War Paint”
I don’t know how to spell the noise Iliza Shlesinger uses when she’s poking fun at women who, like sheep, blindly fall into the female stereotype of ditzy OMG-ness. It’s kind of an “eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh.” Picture a lamb having a fit and you’re sort of there. Either way, Shlesinger is not about to be lumped in with the rest of the flock and as she puts on her “War Paint,” you’ll find she’s more of a big bad wolf who doesn’t intend to take any prisoners. Eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh. (Translation: Love it)



7. Geoff Tate’s “I Got Potential”
Geoff Tate not only has one of the best albums of the year, but dare I say one of the single best tracks, too. His bit on Domino’s pizza is incredible and never lets up. There are more laughs packed into this 10-minute segment than some comedians get in a career. What’s even better is the rest of the album is just as good. “I Got Potential?” Understatement of the year, man.



6. Paul Hooper’s “Tense & Uncomfortable”
Tense & Uncomfortable.” Yep. That pretty much sums it up, but in a good way. Paul Hooper is a comedian in 3-D, coming straight at you with comedy that doesn’t apologize for it’s directness (nor should it). There’s no time for political correctness or taking one’s prescribed medication when there’s funny to be made. Once the Hooper train leaves the station there’s no jumping off but when you’re having this much fun, why would you want to?



5. Tracey Ashley’s “Two First Names”
Yes, Tracey Ashley has “Two First Names” and with an album as funny as this one, they’re two names you won’t soon be forgetting. While some comedians have a style or approach that may only appeal to a certain demographic or mindset, as long as you like to laugh, Ashley is the comic for you. With an upbeat energy (it’s obvious she’s having a good time) and playful bite, Ashley’s album stays consistently funny from beginning to end.



4. Roy Wood Jr.’s “Things I Think, I Think”
I heard this album and immediately hopped online and bought it for a friend. If that’s not the sign of a good CD, I don’t know what is. I’m usually pretty self-conscious and won’t sing in the car if I know the person next to me is looking. I listened to “Things I Think, I Think” while walking downtown to my local coffee shop and was too busy laughing to care about who might have seen me. Sign #2 that Roy Wood, Jr is funny and that’s a thing I know, I know.



3. Tom Shillue’s “12 in 12” Series
Twelve albums in twelve months. At the end of last year that’s what Tom Shillue announced he was doing (and did). An album a month for an entire year. Upon hearing such a notion, one might think “Oh, this’ll start off strong and then peter out” or “So, a bunch of so-so material?” or “Impossible.” Nope. Yes, Shillue started off strong but then CDs just got better and better. And better. 12 in 12? And a good 12 in 12? Take a nap, Tom. You’ve earned it. (But then come back. I miss your stories already.)



2. Joe DeRosa’s “You Will Die”
Yes, Joe DeRosa is right. “You Will Die.” Laughing. Definitely one of my favorite projects of the year for two reasons: Disc 1 and Disc 2. The first of this double-disc project is an incredible set that is classic DeRosa humor (meaning it cracked me up). The second is a peek into what happens when nothing goes right on stage. And basically what happens is, when DeRosa is frustrated he’s still one of the funniest comedians working today.



1. Bill Cosby’s “...Far From Finished”
Remember how I said earlier the sign of a good project is that I went out and bought it for a friend? Well, I bought this for at least three people and recommended it to countless others. I mean, come on, it’s The Cos, and he’s still The Cos. Whether you listen to the audio version (over 2 hours) or watch the DVD/Blu-Ray, there’s no question that not only is “...Far From Finished” number one on this particular list but Bill Cosby is just number one, period.

6 comments:

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    1. It was definitely a contender and another great project from Stanhope!

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  2. Thanks for your reviews for the year, I've got to be honest the last two weeks I've been checking everyday. First, no Birbigs, sure My Girlfriends Boyfriend is not as good as Sleepwalk with me, but Mike is so good, it would certainly make my top 10. I'll have to try a few on the list that I missed out on. I am so glad that Geoff Tate made your list, funny thing, I was reading your review and you mention his track on....I filled in the blank with Bears, when you went with the Dominoes track. Man that is a really good album. Dylan Brody belongs on the list maybe a little higher. I read your original review for Steve Gillispie, and went and bought it right away, it's good but I don't know if it would make my top ten. I will have to give it another listen. Roy Wood has always been one of my favorites, I'm glad he made your list. I would like to listen to a few more of your suggestions before I come up with my top ten, but a few albums other than Mike Birgbiglia's previously mentioned, Kumail Nanjiani's Beta Male, Pete Holmes' Nice Try Devil, and Own Benjamin's High Five til it Hurts. I have to be honest, this was not the best year for comedy albums, the last 3 were just unbelievable and this year seemed to be a let down, maybe a few of your recommendations, 1,2,5,6,8, will change my mind.

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    1. All of those you mentioned were great albums (Kumail, Pete, and Owen) and all of them were ones that made me wish I had gone for a top 15 or a top 20. Thanks for reading!

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  3. 10.Dyaln Brody - Writ Large
    10. Bill Cosby - Far From Finished
    9. Kumail Najani - Beta Male
    8. Roy Wood Jr., - Things I think I think
    7. Pete Holmes - Nice Try, Devil
    6. David Huntsburger - Explosionland
    5. Geoff Tate - I've Got Potential
    4. Myq Kaplan - Meat Robot
    3. Al Madrigal - Why is the Rabbit Crying?
    2. Owen Benjamin - High Five Until It Hurts!
    1. Mike Birbiglia - My Girlfriend's Boyfriend

    I went back and listen to all of my 2013 albums and this is the list I came up with. I also decided to listen to the Pandora tracks for the comedians who I didn't have a chance to purchase this year. Happy New Year everyone!

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    1. Great list Thomas! You'll get no argument from me on any of your picks!

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