We’re quite excited to post this– our annual list and guide to Punchline Magazine‘s favorite comedy albums of the year. A few notes before we get started: First, a lot of comedy releases these days are produced as television specials first, then released as albums, DVDs or both. So that begs the question: What makes a release eligible for the album list and what makes a release eligible as a DVD? We ask this, also, because, as you may know, we’ll also be coming out with a DVD list this year– we’re calling it the “The 10 Must-Have 2010 Comedy DVDs.” Obviously, if a comedian’s project is released just as an album (no other medium), we’ve considered it for this list. In the case of our DVD list, we’ve had to make a few calls; for instance, some DVDs released with audio versions were simply more definitive with the visual element in tact.
So as you read through this list you may think, Are they crazy? “Comedian Joe” came out with an album this year and it was amazing! It didn’t make their list? And that’s OK. There’s a decent chance we’ll be honoring that CD release on our DVD list– if, in fact, it was released on DVD. Or maybe we just didn’t think it was as good as the following albums.
Enough exposition. Here they are: Punchline Magazine‘s 10 Best Comedy Albums of 2010:
#10 – GLENN WOOL – LET YOUR HANDS GO
Canadian comedian Glenn Wool is a man of contradictions. He’s a mess – drugs and booze are part of his daily diet – and yet his theories on everyday life and his deeper philosophies on religion and government come from a mind seemingly more lucid than our political leaders. But that doesn’t mean Wool, who sounds like a stoned-out Bobcat Goldthwait, can’t just chill out and wax silly about the mundane. As such, his album Let Your Hands Go is a well-rounded collection of bits. Although it was recorded at Chicago’s Lakeshore Theater (RIP), it’s feels like you’re listening to a brilliant drunk holding court in a smoky bar. You buy the drinks and Glenn will keep your head filled with hilarious delight. Buy Let Your Hands Go
#9 – RYAN SINGER – HOW TO GET HIGH WITHOUT DRUGS
“Although less incendiary than the explosive Lenny Bruce and more homespun than the irascible Bill Hicks, Ryan Singer nonetheless shares DNA with those great comic commandos,” Punchline Magazine’s John Delery wrote in our January review of Singer’s album. “Singer seemingly lobs softballs instead of hand grenades when deftly and cleverly deriding hypocrites, homophobes and bigots. But just because he camouflages his contempt in sarcasm does not make him any less of a provocateur than his predecessors.” And Singer is just plain fun, especially when he commits to character work and wordplay. Buy How to Get High Without Drugs [Explicit]
#8 – SHANE MAUSS – JOKES TO MAKE MY PARENTS PROUD
It sounds obvious, but sometimes you want a comedy album to make you laugh — no reflecting, little thinking… just something that makes you laugh from your core. And Shane Mauss’ Jokes to Make My Parents Proud fits the bill. Whether he’s talking about trying to have anal sex with his girlfriend, the difference between drunk” and “wasted” or, yes, farting, the Wisconsin-bred comedian is engaging with his slow, deliberate delivery and his impossibly endearing man-boy charm. Comedy fans should always have a well-rounded laughfest of an album on the ready. And this is the one to have in 2010. Buy Jokes To Make My Parents Proud [Explicit]
#7 – W. KAMAU BELL – FACE FULL OF FLOUR
Though not everyone knows it quite yet, San Francisco-based W. Kamau Bell is one of our country’s most adept racial and political commentators; he has a blistering wit and a willingness to say what you quickly realize you’ve always thought. He’s relentlessly intelligent, fusing references to create a rich expression of incredulity in a post-Obama world. Note to working comedians: Despite what’s been said time and again, it’s possible to make fun of our current president and mean it. Kamau is an Obama supporter but deftly takes the piss out of him when necessary. And all of that is there for us to play – and replay – on Face Full of Flour, a masterful, thinking man’s album. Buy Face Full of Flour
#6 – MIKE DESTEFANO – OK KARMA
Not only did late-blooming comedian Mike DeStefano put out one the best albums of 2010, he proved that the landscape of stand-up comedy is changing. The fact that a cringe comic like DeStefano could tackle religion on prime-time network television, get tons of laughs and land in the Top Five finalists on Last Comic Standing means the comedy-consuming masses are looking for something a bit deeper these days. (We’d like to think so, anyway) On OK Karma, DeStefano says, “People say I talk about dark stuff. I talk about real fucking life.” That about sums it up. This album is a must-get for any comedy fan with the urge to explore beyond the superficial. Buy OK Karma
#5 – MYQ KAPLAN – VEGAN MIND MELD
We featured Myq Kaplan at the end of last year as a comedian you need to follow in 2010. And having finished in the top five of the latest installment of Last Comic Standing, a lot of people followed his rise this year. His album Vegan Mind Meld is a delight for anyone who enjoys a lot of laughs per minute and a lot of brains. Our writer John Delery described Kaplan’s performance on Vegan Mind Meld best, earlier this year: “Kaplan, a nasally, nebbishy, naughty but not bawdy comic, the kind of diminutive guy who in school probably defended himself with his disarming wit, skillfully arranges words into an assortment of impressive jokes on an array of mostly serious topics.” Buy Vegan Mind Meld – Live At Comix!
#4 – JOE DEROSA – THE DEPRESSION AUCTION
There’s nothing ironic about the title of Joe DeRosa’s album. So if you’re not into finding the laughs in an otherwise bleak and exhausting world view, you’re not going to like The Depression Auction. Your loss. In addition to placing this gem of an album on our Top 10 list, we’re going to give it the unofficial title of “Most Cathartic of the Year,” as DeRosa purges from his cluttered and self-destructive mind everything he hates about himself (and there is much) and the people around him. We’re glad people like DeRosa exist; like the Marons, Burrs and Stanhopes of the world, DeRosa humanizes imperfection and in doing so, makes us feel a little bit better about ourselves. Buy The Depression Auction [Explicit]
#3 – KYLE KINANE – DEATH OF THE PARTY
Don’t you just love a cuddly, hard-drinking misanthrope with low self-esteem? We do. Or, at least, we love Kyle Kinane, creator of the album Death of the Party, a shining example of all that is great in stand-up comedy. Released by A Special Thing, the hour-plus performance is a collection of the Chicago native’s absurd theories, twisted commentary on decidedly untwisted things (Trader Joe’s, bunnies, etc…) and somewhat bittersweet reflections on the major decisions he’s made in life. Sometimes purely goofy, at other timed downright depressing, Kinane is always funny and poignant. Kinane is the death of the party, and that’s fine with us. Most parties suck. Buy Death of the Party [Explicit]
#2 – HANNIBAL BURESS – MY NAME IS HANNIBAL
“If Steven Wright, Mos Def and Dave Chappelle had a baby, that would be disgusting, but it would sound like Hannibal Buress.” That’s how Chris Rock succinctly describes what this 27-year-old Chicago native is capable of. The former Saturday Night Live scribe and current 30 Rock writer has proven that all the hype behind him in 2010 was not just a smoke screen for a completely average comic. Not one to delve deep into the human condition, Buress creates comedy solely to tickle your funny bone — in his jokes he aspires to kick a pigeon; he finds use for pickle juice and for Christmas, he buys himself prosthetic metal arms because you “have to be prepared for whatever happens in life.” Buy My Name is Hannibal
#1 – ANTHONY JESELNIK – SHAKESPEARE
For the past few years, critics and comedy nerds alike have touted Anthony Jeselnik as something of a rising star. And we can’t disagree. Since 2006, we’ve watched the former Late Night With Jimmy Fallon writer grow; sets on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend, HBO’s Down and Dirty with Jim Norton, Conan, Kimmel, Daly, his own 30-minute Comedy Central special and more served as a piecemeal introduction into the crisp, darkened mind of the Pittsburgh native.
This year, we got confirmation of what we thought all along: Despite his relatively young age (he’s 31 as of this writing), Jeselnik is one of the best joke writers in comedy. His album Shakespeare is that confirmation. From start to finish, he delivers pristine, precise and economical bits with the polish of a 20-year stand-up veteran. There was a lot of solid comedy released this year; but no other album gave us as rich an experience as Shakespeare. Buy Shakespeare [Explicit][audio:http://www.punchlinemagazine.com/audio/jeselnik.mp3]