“Hey,” people often* ask me, “what do you do for fun?”
Well, friends, I love watching and listening to stand up comedy.
And what I do for not fun – as many do – is commute. Now, I don’t know how much you know about commuting, but I generally do it the better part of 5 days a week in at least two directions. This means I go through a lot of podcasts, seasonal playlists of moderately embarrassing pop tunes, and, yes, stand up comedy albums.
Now, I love the classics, don’t get me wrong. If you’re here and you haven’t listened to the big names of comedy (listed at the end of this article) well, start there! But if, like me, you’re looking to branch out and try some new stuff, hip stuff, funny stuff you haven’t heard before, funny stuff that doesn’t necessarily come up when you just type “comedy” into the Spotify search bar, let me do the work for you! Here are some albums you might just love. So plug in your earphones – or settle back with a tasty beverage at your house (right now we’re on Revolution Brewing’s tasty Anti-Hero IPA, if you’re hops-inclined) – and take a listen.
*often = never
10. Hari Kondabolu – Mainstream American Comic (2016): This was a fun album, although we skipped the parts about the 2016 election (would rather not relive that, thanks). It’s not a string of hits – he can sometimes lean a little heavy-handed with his political correctness and aggressive self-awareness – but there are some good jokes and there’s a lot of food for thought in here. Definitely worth a shot.
9. Moshe Kasher – Live in Oakland (2013): I went fishing for Moshe Kasher because his name seems to have started cropping up lately, especially with the start of his show on Comedy Central, “Problematic”, just last month. He’s funny enough and his star is on the rise, why not give it a shot?
8. Cristela Alonzo – Some of the Hits (2014): Ok, full disclosure, I found this one by clicking around a lot. Her monthly listener count is maybe around 1% of many of the other comedians on here. But you know what? She’s delightful, and it’s frankly a relief to hear a different perspective from the standard stand up voice. It might not shake you to the core but you’ll get a lot of chuckles!
7. Hannibal Buress – Live from Chicago (2014): Hannibal Buress. Now there’s a name you’ve probably heard a lot of lately. If you missed this live special, it’s a recording that’s actually improved by listening instead of watching. One of the knocks on this show in reviews was that Hannibal’s performance was animated in a way that clashes with his standard style (some attributed it to the performance being in a larger venue than his previous specials). That doesn’t come across as much with just the audio and it reveals some very fun content. I think about his bit about parades in New Orleans more than I care to admit.
6. Tig Notaro – Boyish Girl Interrupted (2016): Tig Notaro has been doing stand up a long time, but she shot to comedy super stardom with 2013’s Live and the follow-up Netflix documentary Tig. Now, her work is informed by all the deeply personal information that’s out there about her, but in many ways has turned back towards a more traditional stand up feel.
5. Brian Posehn – 25×2 (2017): Posehn is such a goof. I love this man, and he touches on a lot of dad stuff in this album (as well as the nerdery he’s known for), so he’s playing right into our demographic here at Totally Awesome Reviews. This is an effortlessly fun album you should check out if you haven’t yet.
4. Wyatt Cenac – Furry Dumb Fighter (2016): Former Daily Show correspondent Cenac has an easy style that couches some really great jokes. His 2016 special mixes the astute, political humor that marked Jon Stewart’s tenure on the Daily Show with silly, absurd jokes about city life, online dating, and cannibalism.
3. Eugene Mirman – I’m Sorry (You’re Welcome) (2015): Eugene Mirman has been flying under the radar while beening anywhere and everywhere for a long time. His 2015 special I’m Sorry (You’re Welcome) captures his rampant silliness in a comedy special that takes up the first “disc” and then eight more “discs” of meditations, sound effects and silly phrases that you by no means need to listen to. But you can if you want to. Treat yourself: start your day on a very weird note.
2. Maria Bamford – 20% (2016): Maria Bamford is another one that, if you’re plugged in at all, you’ve seen a lot of in the last year. 20% seems to have slipped in quietly between her runaway hit Netflix show Lady Dynamite and her new special, Old Baby. If you like her – or haven’t gotten into her stuff yet, which you should – check this album out!
1. Michael Ian Black – Noted Expert (2016): Guys, I really loved this album. It was a nice surprise. We were in the car and saw Michael Ian Black’s special listed and we said [in so many words], “Gee, we like him as an actor, but is he a good stand up?” This got me laughing out loud as much or more than many of the bigger, more heavily publicized albums of the last few years.
Hope you find some cool new stand up albums in there! Sound off or message us if you have any other hidden gems on Spotify we should check out.
And, as promised, for the uninitiated, a short list of the comedy big boys (and big girls) that can be found on Spotify: Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Seinfeld, Joan Rivers, Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, Wanda Sykes, Louis CK, Amy Schumer, Lewis Black, Kathy Griffin, NOT JEFF DUNHAM, Weird Al, Sarah Silverman, Patton Oswalt, Eddie Murphy, Robin Williams, Steven Wright, Mitch Hedberg, Margaret Cho, Larry The Cable Guy if you must, Mike Birbiglia, Jim Gaffigan, debatably Demetri Martin and Flight of the Conchords. Good luck out there!