GET TO THE POINT! Look, I get it. Sometimes you just wanna read something quickly and get the gist of it. If you’re reading an article about the best stand-up comedy albums of 2014, then I’ll just name the number one album right away.
MAX SILVESTRI’S KING PIGLET
Now, the article.
Hi. I consume a lot of comedy. I watch specials, tv shows, sketches, webseries, books, articles, short fiction, podcasts, all that good stuff. The easiest way to get comedy in you is by stand-up comedy albums (arguably podcasts are a little easier sometimes). As someone who is asked for recommendations frequently, I have decided to compile my favourite additions to my comedy collection in a top ten list of the best stand-up albums.
There’s a bit of a catch to this list though. The only album that is in any sort of order is the one in the top spot. Okay, maybe the top three is solidified. But the rest I could still jumble.
That said, here goes the list.
11. Kurt Metzger – White Precious
First on my arbitrarily ordered list of the best stand-up comedy albums in 2014 is Kurt Metzger’s White Precious. Full disclosure: I fucking love Kurt Metzger. He’s one of the funniest stand-ups working out there today. His first album was sharp and showed how self-assured Metzger is. His second album is no different. He takes on the c-word, gay marriage, and also includes a story about his roommate. Kurt also continues the trend of his funny track listings. Names of tracks like “Kurt Metzger Breaks His Mother’s Heart” and “But Kurt Does Have a Point, Right?” make me giggle by just looking at them. I’ve seen Kurt at the Just For Laughs fest a few times over the last few years and every time he hits the stage, he destroys. I’ve had the opportunity of speaking with him and got a pamphlet for White Precious that is extremely funny. I don’t know how many more of them Kurt’s got left, but if you run into him, ask about them. Or you if you run into me, I’ll show you the copy I’ve got. You’ll laugh, but I’ll want it back.
10. Joe Mande – Bitchface
Bitchface isn’t just a stand-up album. It’s a mixtape. There’s absolute gold on this album with his bits about Somalis and milk for example. The album is punctuated with modulated vocal stings saying the name of the album and an 808 kick drum… and it’s so fucking funny. The album also features a few stories and skits. I was lucky enough to see the Parks and Rec writer perform at the Montreal Just For Laughs festival and he had an iPad on stage making the mixtape stings happen in real time. It was without a doubt one of my favourite performances of the summer. See him live. Get this album. Bbbbbbbbitchface-face-face-face-face-face.
9. Cameron Esposito – Same Sex Symbol
Cameron Esposito is probably the comedian whose name I’ve heard the most this year. Does that have anything to do with the fact that I listen to her podcast Put Your Hands Together, a podcast of just a night of stand-up at the UCB theatre in LA? Yeah, probably. But Cameron has made a big impression on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson for her first late night appearance. She’s also been to Montreal’s Just For Laughs festival, taped for HBO Canada’s Funny as Hell and ultimately has just become an notable figure in stand-up comedy. Cameron is a lesbian and you know this right away. This is a large focus of the album, and like Hari Kondabolu’s album, there are moments of soapbox comedy. However, this does not take away from the comedic merits of this release. It’s a funny album. Cameron’s bits about her eyepatch, street underwear, and guacamole are stand outs. Check it out.
8. Nick Vatterott – For Amusement Only
Given that the list is in arbitrary order, I don’t mind that
this album is in “eighth” place. That said, make no mistake, this album is one of the absolute most entertaining, innovative, interesting, and funny albums I’ve heard in recent years. Vatterott is the 2011 winner of the Andy Kaufman Award and it is showcased throughout as Nick includes a director’s commentary throughout his hourlong set. The best track on the album is TV and you’ll understand if you hear it. Vatterott plays with conventions and twists them like crazy. Please get this album. Pop onto iTunes and get this so I have somebody to talk to about it.
7. Tim Gilbert – Please Help Me I Am Very Sick
The only Canadian entry to make the list! Tim Gilbert’s album was a surprise in a few ways. It came to my attention though my friend David Heti’s Facebook feed (David also has a funny album out, but be warned, it is HEAVY satire and needs to be consumed with that in mind). I got it through Tim’s band camp site, knowing nothing about his comedy. Gilbert’s album embraces a reckless absurdity that creeps in. It’s a relatively dark album but definitely worth checking out. The closing track is a Ghost Story in that reminds me of Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction in that it is an erotic story about a ghost boy and Tim himself. Tim is the King of the Night.
6. Tom Segura – Completely Normal
I love Tom Segura unabashedly. The man can tackle any topic and make it work. He so clearly doesn’t give a fuck and it is hilarious. His bits about the First 48 (a reality show about investigating the first 48 hours of a murder) and an asshole doctor are worth checking out. Also, his “black” voice is extremely funny. His special is available on Netflix and features a really funny story from an older album.
5. Hari Kondabolu – Waiting for 2042
Hari Kondabolu’s album is on here because it is an important work. It is definitely comedy with a message. The majority of Kondabolu’s album tackles racism while taking a few detours (about Matthew McConaughey and Weezer). Hari’s material is very, very sharp and funny. However, it garners applause breaks on the album that took me out of the experience from time to time, making me feel like this is soapbox comedy. Kondabolu proves he is smart and showcases himself well. His album is definitely a reminder of Totally Biased and how important that show was as well.
4. Hannibal Buress – Live From Chicago
Hannibal is a household name right now. Earlier this year, his latest album Live From Chicago shows Hannibal embracing his latest level of success, but also being himself without compromise. Having seen some of this material when he was last given his own show at the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival, I am glad I finally have the audio. Hannibal’s take on supporting the troops and bits about doing comedy in the proper setting are examples of topics touched. My favourite moments on the album include bits about Hannibal’s back problems and penguin meat. The man is living out his dreams on this record and it’s fantastic.
3. Myq Kaplan – Small, Dork, and Handsome
Myq Kaplan is fast, smart and calculated. He has released three albums (and a musical comedy album with Micah Sherman which is also very funny), each better than the last. His latest album is whip quick with tons of puns and jokes about time travel, working in a coffee shop, and religion. Myq’s delivery is machine-gun quick to match his wit. Definitely worth listening to a few times over.
2. Chris Gethard – My Comedy Album
Gethard’s stories are wonderful and deeply personal. He is magnetic. His voice is honest and soft. The stand-outs on the album are bits about commercials during the program I Survived and one hell of a time at Bonnaroo. Listening to Gethard’s album makes him feel like an old friend you haven’t seen in a while who has gone off and become a more enlightened person, a person you are happy to see is doing well. His honest stories are a refreshing voice that I am glad has found it’s way to audio recording. Also, check out The Chris Gerhard Show video podcast.
1. Max Silvestri – King Piglet
I could go on and on about Max Silvestri’s album, but instead, I got to interview him about the whole album and all… which you can read here eventually. Even starting with the tracklisting, this album is hilarious. Max’s bits are often entwined with tangents that are just as hilarious as the jokes they’re deviating from. The little things that catch Max’s eye, such as a funny tattoo or somebody trying to break a quarter, become the subject of a seven minute rambling from his perspective.
Basically, if you’re looking for my number one recommendation, King Piglet is my favourite far and away. Since its release in June, I have listened to this album about 15-20 times. That’s a lot for a comedy album. I laugh every time I listen. I laugh at new things. I laugh at things I’ve laughed at before. So please, buy this album on iTunes and get listening.
- Dan St. Germain – Bad at the Good Times
- Bob Odenkirk – Amateur Hour (featuring Branden Wardell)
- Jared Logan – My Brave Battle
- Tony Sam – Scaredy Cat
- Barry Rothbart – Streets on Fire
- Fraser Young – Food, Medicine and a Surprising Amount of Math
- Cy Amundson – Lovesick in Toledo (specifically 4th Grade Basketball bit)
- Jackie Kashian – This Will Make an Excellent Horcrux
- Karen Kilgariff – Live at the Bootleg (specifically Solid 9)
This article is about stand-up comedy ALBUMS, but some specials are TOO DAMN GOOD not to be mentioned. I wish I had audio versions of these, but they’re so good (and arguably most of them require video). Here we go, some comedy specials to check out:
- Bill Burr – I’m Sorry You Feel That Way
- Chelsea Peretti – One of The Greats
- Dan Klein – This is Comedy
- Wyatt Cenac – Brooklyn