Every year as I compile my list of my favorite comedy albums, I find myself struggling with the order in which to present them. This year was no different. For those of you who may not be aware of it, 2012 was a really great year for comedy (despite Kathy Griffin and Margaret Cho both getting Grammy nominations) and it seemed every time I visited this list, the order changed a bit. I think that serves as a testament as to how amazing each of these albums are.
Although there are only 10 albums listed here (and a handful of Honorable Mentions), don’t think these are the only good comedy CDs to be released to the masses this year. In fact, you can see here my original list of candidates for this end-of-the-year post. All of them deserve a place in your library.
And so, here they are. I don’t claim this to be the list of the best of 2012, but they are the ones I enjoyed the most. Your list might look a lot different and that’s fine. The fact that you may even have a list means you’re listening to and supporting comedy and I’m down with that.
As you browse, you can click on the name of the comedian to read my original review of the project. Click on the album title if you want to pick up a copy of your own. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of your holiday and I’ll see you back here in 2013.
10. JIM GAFFIGAN – MR UNIVERSE
Gaffigan has proved himself time and time again to be consistently funny as he pokes and prods at the nuances of life as only he can. There’s not a lot of new ground being tread (he still manages to wring some great comedy out of his standard topics like food, being lazy, his kids, food, and ad slogans) but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some big laughs here. This project is especially suited for those who already love Gaffigan’s comedy, as it’s exactly what you expect it to be: Gaffigan being hilarious.
9. TODD BARRY – SUPER CRAZY
Barry has taken the low-key observational comedy style of comedians like Steven Wright and amped it up (and, in my opinion, made it better) by daring to add personality to his wry commentary. Instead of a straight, monotone, less-than-energetic delivery that could best be described as flatlined, Barry’s approach is punched up with sarcasm, cynicism, and a distinct disposition. He dares to question the nonsensical minutiae of life that really should be questioned and he doesn’t mind poking fun at the answers he receives.
8. DONALD GLOVER – WEIRDO: LIVE FROM NEW YORKIt’d been a few months since I last listened to this album and I had almost forgotten how much I enjoyed it (and it’s not just because I’m jonesing for all things “Community”). Glover is a great storyteller and his animated energy adds an extra jolt to each story he shares. Most of the album is a re-telling of childhood adventures and I couldn’t help but be reminded of a young Bill Cosby. Whether he’s trying to talk his mom into letting him have sugary cereal or dreading the trip to Home Depot, Glover’s memories jump to life and and easily transport us there with him. It’s a journey you’ll want to take.
7. MICHAEL J DOLAN – DRESS TO DEPRESS
Angry. Grumpy. Upset. Perturbed. Fed up. All of these are words and phrases that could be correctly used to describe Dolan, but you would be selling yourself – and especially Dolan – short if the first word that comes to mind isn’t simply “funny.” The acidic way he loathes those closest to him (including his friends and the woman he lives with) is especially amusing as he attacks these “energy burglars” with the same force he does strangers on the street. And really, if you can’t bring joy to others by hating on the ones you love the most, what have we become?
6. DYLAN BRODY – CHRONOLOGICAL DISORDER
Brody is one of those guys who is so good at putting words together, he’s a little intimidating to write about. Rather than try to match his good-word-putting-together-ness, I’ll focus instead on how much I enjoyed this album. You know when it’s December and not quite snow weather but still pretty bitter and you get that not-quite-sleet-but-not-quite-rain precipitation and as you walk from your car to your front door you step in a puddle and your socks are instantly drenched and you get inside, peel the socks off, and put on some hot water and you take off your sweater and by then the water is boiling and you make yourself the perfect pourover coffee with freshly-ground beans that were roasted locally only a few days ago and you sit down in your favorite chair and can finally relax and you take a sip of the coffee and it’s perfect and just what you needed? This album is that cup of coffee.
5. ANDY WOODHULL – LUCYWith a devilish mix of mischievousness and innocence, Woodhull is an amazing comedic presence. The album is solid from start to finish. There are no lulls and each statement he makes is delivered with the confidence of someone who has no regrets. From the moment he hilariously described the rape of 3/5 of his college roommate’s sense, I knew I was in for a good time and as the CD progressed, Woodhull proved me quite correct.
4. DEMETRI MARTIN – STANDUP COMEDIAN
Like many of the comedians on this list, one of Martin’s strengths is his consistency. Going into this project, you had an expectation and a general idea of what you were going to get. Known for his bizarre way of looking at things through his Demetri prism and extracting blood from would-be topical stones, Martin once again delivers a solid album of random declaratives whose very existence would have you wondering “Where in the world did that come from?” if you weren’t so busy laughing.
3. GARY GULMAN – NO CAN DEFEND
To put it simply, there is not a bad track on this album. Every bit, every premise, every story is rock solid and if a comedian makes you laugh not by listening to his album but by thinking about it days later, you know you’re on to something good. Gulman mines one comedy gold nugget after another with stories on playing basketball at the JCC, The Karate Kid, the Top 5 Features of the Discman, and the “@” symbol, just to name a few. Of course, everything here is so funny because Gulman is 100% dead-on in what he’s saying. It’s a great album that is guaranteed to keep you laughing no matter how many times you’ve listened.
2. JOHN MULANEY – NEW IN TOWN
I’ve always loved an underdog and you’d be hard-pressed to find one more enjoyable to root for than Mulaney. Never one to shy away from criticizing his own actions or admitting just how incapable he is, Mulaney breathes new life into the whole idea of “Did I tell you about the time”-style storytelling. He’s not just a guy on stage talking to a group of strangers; you genuinely feel as if you’re hanging out at a bar swapping stories with a friend. And what stories they are. Part man-child who refuses to grow up as he laments the lack of quicksand in day-to-day life and part regular guy who probably should have been gay based on the way he talks and does things, Mulaney isn’t afraid of sharing stories that present himself – or Ice-T – in a less-than-flattering light.
1. CHAD DANIELS – YOU’RE THE BEST
Daniels was once nearly arrested for wishing AIDS on a cop. That bit alone is so funny, if it were the only thing on the album, it would still land on this list. Of course, he doesn’t just say he almost got arrested for wishing AIDS on a cop. He takes you through the entire timeline of events and as the story unfolds, it reveals laugh after laugh, each one bigger than the one before it. Every bit to be found here is just as funny, just as hilarious, and just as wrong. Whether it’s the guy with the cleft palate who takes reservations or his own beloved wife and kids, no one is safe from Daniels’s razor-sharp observations. It’s not just comedy done right, but to satisfying perfection. It’s true, Chad Daniels: You’re the best.