I listened to a lot of comedy albums that were released this year, probably over 20. These are my picks for the top 10 comedy albums of 2010.
10. Matt McCarthy, Come Clean
You may know him from the FIOS commercials as the cable guy, Matt McCarthy is also a brilliant comedian. His debut album is almost like an experiment in stand up comedy, and I mean that in a good way. Many of the bits on this album are very offbeat and you will catch yourself thinking, "What the fuck is going on right now?" but you will also be laughing. Bits like "Badass Poetry" and "Old Suicide Notes" come to mind. McCarthy also does some more traditional stand up bits such as "Unsung Minority" (about being a redhead), and some great observational comedy: "Is it just me, or do way too many funeral homes look like they could be Italian restaurants?"
Favorite Track: "Love", a relatively short bit but showcases McCarthy's knack for ingenuity in writing and stream of consciousness.
9. Glenn Wool, Let Your Hands Go
Strong, funny social commentary anchors the Canadian Wool's debut album. He deals with topics from cocaine to religion and his deconstruction of our society rings with the air of a late era George Carlin. Wool also isn't afraid to get personal as he discusses his dealings with AA and shares anecdotes about his drug use. This is a terrific album.
Favorite Track: "New Swears", the opening track of the album. That's not to say that the album goes downhill after that, but my love for Carlin gave me a love for dark, edgy comedy and for comedy which deconstructs the English language.
8. Anthony Jezelnik, Shakespeare
There is not one joke on this album that is not greatly offensive. There is also not one joke on this album that is not a great joke. This is a very dark and caustic album, and, coupled with Jezelnik's dry delivery, one of the best. At one point on the album you'll hear Jezelnik say this: "If you liked that last AIDS joke...lucky day. You are going to love this next AIDS joke." It's that kind of album. And by that I mean it's great.
Favorite Track: "Standards and Practices", includes a great edgy joke and a great story about how "people, that are offended by jokes...are fucking stupid."
7. Aziz Ansari, Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening
Ansari's debut album is very strong, as he gives his take on things from gay marriage to Cold Stone Creamery. Ansari is a great writer and an energetic performer, and establishes an excellent rhythm in this album. The album is anchored by Aziz's now famous "Randy" character, who ends the album with 10 minutes of his style of stand up comedy.
Favorite Track: "Harassing Harris on Facebook", As an older sibling, this bit hits me hard. Just the idea of a celebrity like Aziz spending his time annoying his 13 year old cousin on Facebook is awesome.
6. Hannibal Buress, My Name is Hannibal
Hannibal is a great joke writer and his odd premises are thrust into reality by the tone of his voice: laid back and smooth. He sets up so many bits so casually that you go, "Oh that makes sense," but it rarely does, and when he gives even more twist on it it's hilarious.
Favorite Track: "Pigeons Get Murked", Hannibal talks about why he wants to kick a pigeon so much, but unfortunately can't.
5. Sean Kent, Waiting for the Rapture
Sean Kent's style of dark sociopolitical commentary is thought provoking but never preachy. Kent hits his targets hard and without remorse. After an impressive deconstruction of WalMart he closes it by commenting on the people that work there, "I'm not saying I'm better than those people. I don't have to say it, I know it."
Favorite Track: "Anderson Cooper", Kent's take on the earthquake in Haiti turns a mirror on America's morality and is brutally true. Even a heckler disrupting Kent's flow doesn't derail this bit.
4. Brian Regan, All By Myself
In Regan's latest album, he delves into more personal topics, like his kids, his health and how he's getting older. Regan still explores many of the absurdities of the world, and in usual Brian Regan fashion, is clean while doing so. He also is not afraid to reveal his shortcomings in life, such as when he tried to learn about Native American culture at a shoeshine stand (he thought it was the Shoshone tribe.) This album also includes an old Chess joke of his that is excellent, and he finally got it recorded. To me Brian Regan is, bar none, the best clean comedian working today. I'm amazed he's not more famous. Brian Regan may be getting older, but he's still hilarious.
Favorite Track: "Pirates and Pilots", Regan's take on the Somali pirates and the Sullenberger landing are both excellent. And he ends it with a great joke about the balloon boy incident.
3. Myq Kaplan, Vegan Mind Meld
You might know him as a finalist from Last Comic Standing (I thought he should've won), Myq Kaplan's debut album is a fast paced, joke filled frenzy of sorts. Kaplan is a master joke writer with a creative delivery: it's lightning fast. Upon the 3rd time listening to this album I found new jokes I didn't hear the 1st 2 times around. It's almost like having bonus tracks interspersed throughout the album. He toys with the English language in creative and funny ways. He's brainy, but not nerdy; edgy, but not filthy. Kaplan's not afraid to use puns, sarcasm or self-deprecation to get his humor across. Even when his use of puns borders on overbearing, he brings it back by commenting on it, "We made it through the pun jungle everybody. ...Or Pungle, if you will." Great, funny album that has a very relistenable quality.
Favorite Track: "Bigotry is Confusing", I've told Myq this before, he has my favorite take on gay mariage ever. Which says a lot, given how many comedians tackle the issue.
2. Joe Derosa, The Depression Auction
This debut album from Joe Derosa is filled with outrage and social commentary, which are two of my favorite staples in stand up comedy. Derosa deconstructs the malignant aspects of our culture, but is also not afraid to turn the criticism towards himself. He is a man on a mission to better himself, as he talks about how he quit drinking...but he's also got a long way to go, as he still smokes. This album is consistently funny and contains many stories of Derosa's own embarrassing moments as well as reflections on how he can mature. One can see a bit of Bill Hicks in Derosa's work, but Derosa is truly original, as he, unlike Hicks, describes himself as being "politically stupid, and easily led." Derosa anchors the album with his most famous bit, titled "the Worst Gig Ever", about the time he had to perform for Gathering of the Juggalos, a kind of Woodstock for fans of the Insane Clown Posse (who Derosa calls “the worst band ever in the history of man”), held in the woods of Ohio. This album is very relatable and extremely funny.
Favorite Track: "I'd be the Shittiest President Ever", Derosa actually sympathizes with former president, George Bush, and reimagines how events would've unfolded had he been the President on 9/11.
1. Kyle Kinane, Death of the Party
Kinane's debut album is chocked full of stories from his life and the album has a cynical, yet hopeful theme to it. A comparison to Oswalt can be made, but Kinane's view of life is even darker and more self deprecating than Oswalt's, comparable to that of Louis CK. But Kinane is definitely unique. Kinane is almost like a misunderstood visionary, as his sharp outlook towards the world seems cloaked beneath his cranky attitude. Kinane also couldn't be more relaxed onstage, almost like he's not trying to become a comedic character, but he's just naturally funny. Just a hilarious man that can tell a great story. Kinane is a master storyteller, and his ability to describe people/events is comparable of that to a great author. Commenting about a man that came into the bathroom Kinane was in at the time, "I can only describe this guy, as looking frustrated...from having run out of places to tattoo." The album is anchored by Kinane recounting how insomnia can make him become a "Midnight Scientist."
Favorite Track: "Writing on the Wall" (The title of every track is the title of a song on Cheap Trick's "Dream Police.") The Trader Joe bit is an extremely funny observation of the different names used in the Trader Joe store, and Kinane gives his theory on why this might be.
Those are my top 10. Another great year for comedy albums in the books my friends.