The Top 10 Comedy Albums of 2010

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One of my favorite parts of compiling my “Best Of” list was spending this last week re-listening to some of my favorite releases (according to my iTunes, I spent 21.4 hours listening to some of the best of the best). To say 2010 was an excellent year is putting it lightly. I had my choices narrowed down to 24 albums (you can see that list here) and narrowing that list down to 10 was not easy. As much as I listened and re-listened, I just couldn’t bring myself to not include a few names so I’m taking the easy way out and also including 5 Honorable Mentions.
If your only knowledge of stand-up comedy is Robin Williams and The Blue Collar Comedy Tour, you’re really missing out. Not that they aren’t funny (OK, the Blue Collar guys aren’t, but I’m still a fan of Robin…even though his absence from my list this year would seem to prove otherwise) but there’s definitely more out there than most people may be aware of. Hopefully this will help point you in the direction of some very deserving comics who are out there working the clubs, popping up on TV (both in front of and behind the camera) and bringing some serious funny. Follow the links, explore, and support them by buying an album or DVD (or both). You deserve it. And they do, too.

TOP 10 COMEDY ALBUMS OF 2010
10. Janeane Garofalo, If You WillI’ll be honest: I went into this one with lowered expectations. I assumed this was going to be one long, angry political rant and after listening to the first few minutes I felt bad for pigeonholing Garofalo. I found myself really enjoying If You Will as she takes on Homeland Security, babies, and even her own public persona. Garofalo comes across as more relatable than ever and I’m hoping she keeps at least one foot firmly planted in her stand-up roots for a while.

9. David Cross, Bigger And BlackererNo one can point out our weird idiosyncrasies like David Cross. And no one can analyze those idiosyncrasies and dissect them, revealing the additional layers of idiosyncrasies hidden inside like David Cross. His breakdown of an actual British postcard/advertisement reaching out to date rape victims is nothing short of observational humor brilliance magnified to such a degree, if you deprive yourself of hearing it, you may regret it…or worse.
8. Joe DeRosaThe Depression Auction
Joe DeRosa is sick of it, and none of us are safe. He is more than willing to point out things in life that are so ridiculous, they need to be publicly called out and ridiculed. We all have guilty pleasures and DeRosa is a master at making us feel guilty for taking pleasure in them while laughing at ourselves the entire time. DeRosa isn’t perfect, either, and he doesn’t hesitate to take himself to task. As I listened to the album, I could almost picture him in front of a mirror yelling at himself, pointing a finger and wagging it in his reflection’s face. We’ve all shouted at ourselves for doing something we knew we shouldn’t have, but I’m willing to bet we’ve never been as funny as DeRosa while doing it.

7. Kevin HartSeriously Funny
Kevin Hart reminds me of Chris Tucker if Chris Tucker was funny and/or entertaining. His rapid-fire delivery and carefully chosen an-un-ci-a-tion of words add to each punch. He doesn’t approach various topics as much as they approach him, and his reaction – sometimes he’s confused, sometimes he’s angry, sometimes he doesn’t know how to react – resonates with the inner child in all of us. If you it’s been a while since your stomach hurt from laughing too hard, his story of the time he was in grade school and swore at a teacher will remedy that. This album couldn’t be more aptly-titled. This guy is seriously, seriously funny.

6. Lachlan PattersonJokes To Make Love To
If Christopher Walken ever decided to go into stand-up comedy and was amazing at it, people would accuse him of stealing from Lachlan Patterson. Patterson’s pacing and timing are certainly reminiscent of the famed actor, but there’s so much more going on here. His bold confidence in front of a crowd not only allows him to liken old ladies’ makeup application skills to getting into a paintball fight, but it then gives him the OK to ask why he’s not receiving a standing ovation for saying it. Patterson doesn’t apologize for anything, and he doesn’t have to. The “plate of food” button on a microwave does negate the other buttons. We should encourage Olympic swimmers to smoke pot. And saying you rescued a cat really isn’t the right way to put it. No doubt about it: Standing O.

5. Steve ByrneThe Byrne Identity
Whenever you make a Top 10 list, it’s bound to spark some conversation and controversy. “Hey, you didn’t include _____.” Well, buckle up kids because I’m about to take it a step further by stating The Byrne Identity contains the single best track of any comedy album this year. I’m talking about Track 5, “Stereotypes to Music.” Simply put, Byrne names a style of music and then begins to tell you the type of person who listens to that music. I freely admit my summation doesn’t begin to do it justice but that’s why I’m where I am and Byrne is where he is. Because his stereotypes are dead-on, you’ll find yourself laughing those big, full-on, I-can’t-believe-he-just-said-that-but-holy-crap-he’s-right laughs. That’s not to say the rest of the album isn’t as skillfully written and flat-out funny; it is. Byrne tackles the struggle of his identity: Who exactly is he? His Korean/Irish ancestry makes it difficult for him to know exactly where he fits in. Or should fit in. Or even want to fit in. Until he comes to a decision, he’ll just have to accept that he’s going to be identified as one of this year’s best.

4. Brian ReganAll By Myself
I started seeing people post Best-of-2010 lists on a variety of subjects as early as November. I chose to wait a bit, just in case something came out in December that deserved to be on the list. It’s albums like All By Myself that made me glad I waited. This one just came out and once again Regan knocks it out of the park. No one is funnier when they’re flummoxed and this time around Regan is undone by hearing tests, watching horse racing, and wrestling with his kids. There’s a reason Regan has made a name for himself and has become so popular: He’s one of the most consistently funny comedians working now, and this album does not disappoint.

3. Bill BurrLet It Go
Speaking of consistent, Bill Burr has fast become one of my favorite comedians. He’s flustered, he’s frustrated, and he’s not holding back. Burr tackles topics we’ve all thought about but never had the guts to say out loud. How many times have you heard stay-at-home moms commended for having “the most difficult job on the planet?” Well, Burr has an issue with that and makes a strong case for the other side. Sure, obesity is a problem in this country, but no one tackles the “horde of fat people wandering out of The Cheesecake Factory” with such side-splitting results. And I think it’s fair to say we’re all sick of the SPCA commercials set to that weepy Sarah McLaughlin song, but no one has been able to crystallize my hatred for this ad campaign quite like Burr. Let It Go is another solid project from a strong comic and never before has someone’s unbridled anger brought me so much joy and laughter.

2. Aziz AnsariIntimate Moments For A Sensual EveningBefore Intimate Moments, I was only familiar with Aziz Ansari’s stand-up work from his appearance on such projects like the Invite Them Up compilation. He only had one track on that album and as good as it was, it did not prepare me for how amazing his solo CD was going to be. Every track on this album is top-notch laugh-out-loud comedy. Ansari’s slight Carolina drawl mixed with his hip-hop sensibilities makes for a unique voice that left me in tears as he talks about his battle with his little cousin on Facebook. As he relays an evening out (and in) with Kanye West, you realize the story is just outrageous enough to be believable. The album comes to a hilarious climax as he re-caps an entire R. Kelly concert in under six minutes. If Parks and Recreation is your only knowledge of Ansari and his work, I cannot express to you how much you are missing out. Trust me.
1. Hannibal BuressMy Name is Hannibal
When I first heard this album back in August, I turned to my wife and said, “I just listened to the funniest album of the year.” Four months later I still stand by that statement. Hannibal Buress’s cool, laid-back Is-he-high?-No-He’s-Just-Cooler-Than-You approach left me laughing from start to finish. There’s not a weak link on this album. Whether he is arguing with computer girls in video games, adding an apostrophe to his first name to make it better, or explaining how one would judge a pigeon-kicking contest, each track is funnier than the previous one, leading to a hilarious finale with one of the best callback references in recent comedy history. The hardest thing about making this year’s Top 10 list was deciding which albums would make the cut. The easiest thing about making this year’s Top 10 list was placing My Name Is Hannibal at #1. If someone asks me what’s new in comedy, what’s good in comedy, who should they be listening to, I can answer their query with one name: His name is Hannibal.

HONORABLE MENTION
There wasn’t room for these on the list, but I still felt it was important to give them a mention.

  • Lewis BlackStark Raving Black Lewis Black is back and he’s just as angry as ever. If you’re already a fan, then you won’t be disappointed.
  • Robert BuscemiPalpable If you like your comedy a little more than off-center, then Buscemi’s breakthrough Palpable will not disappoint.
  • Keith AlberstadtIt’s Pronounced ‘Jenkins’ Alberstadt’s refreshing outlook on life will leave you seeing things from a new – and funnier – perspective.
  • Anthony Jeselnik, Shakespeare At one point in the CD Jeselnik mentions he spent time in New Orleans. Someone in the audience whoops and Jeselnik immediately tells him to shut up. And it’s hilarious.
  • Brian Scolaro, DisasterPay no attention to the title of this album. It’s misleading. Lindsay Lohan is a disaster. Kate Gosselin is a disaster. This project from Scolaro is a rousing comedic success.

Which brings us to the part of the blog where you leave your thoughts. Agree? Disagree? Who did you like in 2010? As always, your feedback is welcome. Thanks for reading!

Jon Lajoie’s “I Kill People”

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Jon Lajoie is back with a new collection of music that is sure to illicit more than a few laughs. Allow me to clarify: It’s a new collection, but not a collection of new songs, as most of the tracks have been available on Lajoie’s YouTube channel for some time now.
iTunes seems to be flooded with musical comedians but most of them are  hardly more than smirk-inducing on the first listen.  This is not the case with Lajoie. For starters, the production value is much better than most of the overnight silly songs that crop up. True, LaJoie isn’t going to be winning any awards for his vocal prowess, but he’s too busy cleverly skewering rap, pop music, and rock ballads to let that stop him.
Lajoie kicks off I Kill People with the title track, an intentionally-stunted gangster rap complete with a 1983 Casio keyboard beat. At first it seems to be just another rapper bragging about how great he is until you realize…well…maybe he’s not the greatest.
“My lyrics are like the movie The Shawshank Redemption…..they’re really good.”
He’s like the Ben Stiller of comedic rap. He excels at portraying the over-confident guy who can’t really live up to his own self-created hype.
There are your few standard penis, masturbation, and ill-fated love songs that just lay limp – pun intended –  (“Listening To My Penis,” “Alone in the Universe,” “In Different Ways”) but Lajoie really soars when he gets a chance to show off his various characters. And when his characters bump into each other on the same track, there are hilarious results. “WTF Collective” (and its sequel a few tracks later) introduces us to rappers like MC Insecure, MC Amnesia, The Chorus Guy, MC Doesn’t Know What Irony Is, MC Gets Sidetracked Easily, and my two personal favorites: MC Lethal Weapon 1 2 & 3 and MC Lethal Weapon 4.
Lajoie is at his best when he goes at a subject full-force. “Michael Jackson is Dead” is an angry rap aimed at those who criticized MJ and suddenly became fans after his death. The genius of this song lies in the fact that the more the rapper defends The Gloved One, the more Michael comes out looking not-so-good.
“Mel Gibson’s Love Song” is one of those songs that I probably shouldn’t have laughed at as much as I did (“I love you…that’s why I punched you in the face”) and “Radio Friendly Song” is a nice companion to a song from his previous album, “Pop Song.” I freely admit that it’s probably my brief experience in the music business machine that makes me love these songs that call out the music industry.
All in all, “I Kill People” is a solid comedy album. Sure, not every track is a home run, but neither is every cut on Eminem’s new project. But at least Lajoie is funny on purpose.
***

The Top 10 Comedy Albums of 2009

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(Re-posted from The Blog of Ed)

Top 10 Album lists are pretty popular but I’ll be honest: I didn’t listen to enough full albums this year to feel like I really knew what I was talking about. Being a radio guy, I guess I mostly listen to singles. If you want someone who is a real music head, then check out Brad’s year-end best-of list. On the other hand, Idid listen to my fair share of comedy albums. I didn’t listen to everything that came out (as of this writing I still haven’t heard the new George Lopez album and I avoid any CD by a member of the Blue Comedy Collar Tour like a Blue Collar Comedy Tour audience member avoids evolution) but I think I caught most everything else that came by. I’ll include clips from the album when I can find them, so just in case you have kids…or office mates…nearby, you may wanna keep an eye on the volume. Most of them contain words that will get your mouth washed out with soap.
10. Stephen Lynch, 3 Balloons
Not my favorite Lynch album, but still worth a mention. I especially enjoyed “Fishin Hole” (Where everyone is a butthole) and “Dear Diary,” a collection of “he didn’t just say that, did he?” tributes to dead celebrities.

9. Greg Giraldo, Midlife VicesLike most people, I became acquainted with Giraldo through his work on Comedy Central’s Roasts. He’s always teased as “the comic no one has heard of.” Although this is funny because it’s true, it shouldn’t be the case.

8. Jon Lajoie, You Want Some of ThisOne of four comedians on this list that are comedic songwriters. I used to abhor musical comedians (besides Weird Al) but when they’re funny, they’re funny. LaJoie’s CD not only celebrates the joy of just being a regular guy, but does it to a beat that would get spins on any Top 40 station.

7. Nick Swardson, Seriously, Who Farted?
Swardson, the guy who appears in every Comedy Central show ever, returns to what (I think) he does best. Goofy voices and uncomfortable situations.

6. Christopher Titus, Love is EvolReleased three days after Valentine’s Day, the album is one long rant about someone facing the D-Word: Divorce. As someone who’s been in each phase of this journey, it’s as if someone took everything I didn’t know how to say and said it better. And funnier. I don’t know. Maybe I can just relate because I too once spent some time splitting up with a psycho.

5. Dane Cook, Isolated IncidentDane Cook got so big so fast, it wasn’t long before the backlash set in. At first he was the cool underground sensation and suddenly he became cool to hate. I don’t get it. If someone’s good, then they’re good. I mean come on, how does he keep coming up with great material…and so much of it! Another double disc. This new collection shows he isn’t just a jokey jokester, but he’s an amazing storyteller.

4. “Weird Al” Yankovic, Internet LeaksSomeone who’s been doing this as long as Al has shouldn’t be on this list. Compared to everyone else on the list, Al’s an old-timer. But his song “CNR” done in the style of the White Stripes and heralding the most surprising of heroes shows he’s still got it.

3. The Lonely Island, Incredibad 
My favorite songs on this CD are the ones I hadn’t already seen on SNL. And this CD boasts the best line-up of guest vocalists on any album this year: T-Pain, Jack Black, Norah Jones, Justin Timberlake, Natalie Portman, and Julian Casablancas. 

2. Patton Oswalt, My Weakness is StrongThere are some people that are just funny when they’re angry, and Oswalt is one of them. His album starts off with this “I Hate” bit and only gets better.

1. Jim Gaffigan, King BabyJust when you thought he’d never be able to top his own catch phrase (“Hot Pocket!”) he does it with just one word: bacon.