Unless you have a defective funny bone, these ten best comedy albums will have you busting a gut until you find yourself in stitches. Putting comedy in album form is a tricky proposition, but these comedians all pull it off with savoir faire to spare.
- “Werewolves and Lollipops” by Patton Oswalt. Patton Oswalt was at the top of his game with “Werewolves and Lollipops.” He starts this live performance out strong with his now famous bit about KFC’s Famous Bowls and doesn’t let up from there. If you haven’t listened to this CD, you’re missing the best comedy album of the last few decades.
- “Shut Up, You F—ing Baby!” by David Cross. David Cross travels in the same “alternative comedy” circles as Patton Oswalt, but brings a much more intense sense of anger and outrage to his own routine. This album, recorded during the height (or depths, as the case may be) of the George W. Bush administration, is about as angry and outraged as comedy can get. And it’s hilarious.
- “Relentless” by Bill Hicks. Bill Hicks was in many ways a spiritual precursor to comedians like David Cross, sharing a similar sense of outrage at the world around him. Hicks’s untimely death was a huge loss for the comedy community. Few comedians have had a wit as razor sharp.
- “The Carnegie Hall Concert” by Lenny Bruce. Going even farther back on the stand-up comedy timeline, there is Lenny Bruce. Bruce helped shape comedy as it exists today, thumbing his nose at censors and making comedy less safe and more confrontational. Comedy is much better for it.
- “To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With” by Bill Cosby. Before he became mostly known for being the sitcom dad of Rudy and Theo Huxtable, Bill Cosby was one of the most influential stand-up comics in the business. The influence of his album “To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With” can still be seen on many comedy acts today.
- “Tenacious D” by Tenacious D. Not all comedy albums are stand-up comedy. There are also novelty music acts like the kings of stoner metal comedy, Tenacious D. A duo consisting of Kyle Gass and the now ubiquitous Jack Black, Tenacious D perfectly satire hard rock while at the same time paying loving homage to it. The result is a collection of some of the funniest songs of all time.
- “Flight of the Conchords” by Flight of the Conchords. Sort of the Tenacious D of New Zealand, Flight of the Conchords share many similarities with Tenacious D. They’re a duo, they write hilarious songs, and they had a short-lived series on HBO. They also cover a broader swath of musical styles, though, and have funny accents.
- “That N—er’s Crazy” by Richard Pryor. Richard Pryor was a pioneering black comedian in that he wasn’t afraid to get angry and political, which was still somewhat of a rarity during his early days. He was funny enough, though, that his politics didn’t much matter. He achieved enormous crossover success by sheer virtue of being one of the funniest people alive.
- “Mitch All Together” by Mitch Hedberg. Perhaps the greatest deadpan comedian ever, Mitch Hedberg’s rapid-fire telling of one joke after another meant that even if there was an occasional miss, there was another joke to laugh at a few seconds later. There weren’t too many misses, though, and so the density of this album’s jokes makes it one of the best comedy albums of all time.
- “Comedian” by Eddie Murphy. It’s hard to believe that the man whose name on a marquee these days practically guarantees a terrible movie-going experience was once one of the most energetic and exciting comedians around. This album is the audio companion to his concert film “Delirious,” which is one of the most energetic and consistently funny stand-up comedy performances ever. It’s just a shame it was all downhill from there.
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