We talk a lot about funny people, so it should go without saying that the following list is one of the hardest we’ve had to compile this year. When it comes to comedians there always seems to be a different and in some ways closer connection with the audience than any band can hope to achieve because, for the most part, the comedian is being more open and honest about themselves and how they view life than any amount of poetry or verse can allow. Comedians make an art out of being frank about life, and it’s that honesty that keeps us coming back again and again.
Without further ado, here is Comedy Editor Angie Frissore’s picks for the top 10 comedy releases of 2012. Enjoy!
Released in October via Stand Up! Records, Ryan Singer’s “Comedy Wonder Town” is just that – a delightful escape from the world around you as you accompany Singer on a hilarious journey though complete absurdity. For me, that’s exactly what comedy should be – that, and telling jokes to truckers about wives that don’t exist.
“Animal Furnace” makes my top list this year for far more than just the clever rhyming title. The special features Buress’ trademark deadpan wit and laid-back attitude, along with a self-assured confidence that naturally comes with success. Buress moves fluidly through his set, expertly doling out hilarity with every road observation or retelling of a night out at the club. Unlike a lot of observational comedians, Buress adds a healthy level of randomness to his jokes, taking his audience to places they’d simply never experience otherwise.
Having had the privilege of seeing Gary Gulman perform in his home clubs throughout Boston, I can’t help but think that “No Can Defend” is by far the best work the comedian’s done so far. With a knack for winging it at times, the new album offers a much more focused Gulman, whose humor is a little more concise than in the past. While the comedian recently released his own Comedy Central special, “In This Economy,” last month, it’s the CD that stands out the most to me (which may be due, quite simply, to the repetition of some material on the special).
There’s something oddly soothing in Todd Barry’s calm, understated stage presence. He’s not trying to prove he’s better than you in any way, rarely jumping on any ethnic or other stereotype from which to draw humor – for Barry, the low-hanging comedy fruit is his own self. “Super Crazy”, which was released via Comedy Central in July, is Barry’s first feature length special and is definitely one not to be missed.
Braunger’s one-hour Comedy Central special, Shovel Fighter, is truly a delightful romp through the often-silly mind of the Chicago native. With a carnival-like set that’s complete with paintings of dancing pigs and creepy babies being tempted by sausages, “Shovel Fighter” offers up hilarious tales ranging from Jaeger-Hulks and Lonelyman dinners to trying to act like a thug on a unicycle. Braunger manages to pull of an entire special in which no one gets uncomfortable or offended, but everyone runs the risk of wetting themselves with laughter.
I don’t think there’s anyone who would argue that comedian Patrice O’Neal was taken from us far too soon. And in what couldn’t be a more fitting tribute to the late comedian, “Mr. P” was released earlier this year posthumously by BSeen Media and embodies all that made O’Neal one of the best comics of his time – his brutal honesty, cleverly scathing commentary, and his one-of-a-kind style of audience interaction. There will never be another quite like Patrice O’Neal.
The bottom line is this – Tom Papa is more than just a very funny comedian. He’s not only downright hilarious, but he simply exudes comedic expertise. Having toured as Jerry Seinfeld’s opener for over ten years, I’m so happy that he’s been let out of his comedic cage and finally shared with the masses. “Tom Papa: Live in New York City” is exceptionally slick and stylish (naturally, considering it was directed by Rob Zombie) and gives us a polished, suited Papa who is unabashedly honest and candid about both his own personal life and society in general. Whether listening to or watching Papa, it’s clear to see he’s a seasoned and highly-skilled professional who has mastered stage presence and timing. It’s been six years since Papa’s last (and debut) CD, Calm, Cool & Collected – but again, I feel like he was just waiting for his moment. And lucky for us, that moment has come.
Having been a fan of Mirman’s for years, the news that the comedian would be premiering a brand-new special just before the year ends was almost enough of a Christmas present for me. “An Evening of Comedy in a Fake Underground Laboratory” features a very up-beat and energetic Mirman doling out some of the funniest material he’s done to date – including some hilarious potions and elixirs Mirman created just for the special and a slew of ridiculous captions for tea party enthusiast photos. The special debuted earlier this month on Comedy Central and definitely goes down as my favorite Mirman special yet.
2. Louis CK, “Word – Live at Carnegie Hall” (May 11, self-released)
There’s nothing quite like the random self-release of Louis CK’s “Word – Live at Carnegie Hall” only months after breaking industry norms by making a previous release available only via his website – and for only $5. In typical C.K. fashion, “Word” features the veteran comedian ranting about the younger generation, being an unhealthy father, marriage and near-death experiences. His comedy stands out above and beyond other comedians in that you pretty much get the sense that everything he says is pretty honest and true to himself. Rather than singling out any one demographic to rip on, C.K. weaves hilarity into much more empathetic stories which make him seem like the superhero of the everyday man.
I first had the pleasure of hearing Boeh’s material back when he was a regular part of the Boston comedy scene, and was delighted to find out he’d be releasing his debut CD this year. A relatively clean comic, Boeh’s timing and delivery are unmatched – which is surprising for a first album. He can make any topic upbeat and positive – even when he’s talking about homeless guys who beg for money on highway off-ramps. Carpool Companion takes my top spot this year as the ultimate comedy album that just about anyone can enjoy. I simply can’t wait to hear more from comedian Tyler Boeh.