We’re excited to announce Punchline Magazine‘s top 10 stand-up comedy albums as well as the one, most exciting up and coming stand-up comedian we think you should pay attention to in 2009. This list has nothing to do with record sales. This list simply represents the collective opinions of Punchline Magazine‘s editors. Enjoy.
#10 – TOM McCAFFREY, Lou Diamond Phillips?
This debut album from New York City based comic Tom McCaffrey was a refreshing surprise this year. McCaffrey first piqued our interest in 2005 when he appeared on Comedy Central’s Invite Them Up triple album– alongside the likes of Mike Birbiglia, Todd Barry, Eugene Mirman and Aziz Ansari. McCaffrey’s oddball musings and slacker style make for a very light, enjoyable listen. Check out the clip below, where McCaffrey fantasizes about the possibility of Matthew Broderick murdering his family.
#9 – DOV DAVIDOFF, The Point Is…
The first thing that catches your attention about Dov Davidoff is his voice, his delivery. He almost sounds like he’s constantly on the verge of a breakdown… or is it a breakthrough? The Point Is… is a stellar listen not just because of what it offers in laughs (which is to say, there are many) but also because, unlike a lot of live stand-up albums, this one feels organic, dare we say… slightly raw. Davidoff dips into the crowd throughout his set, but does so like a boxer who’s an expert bobber and weaver– quick in, then quick out. The below clip gives you a good portrait of the comic’s upbringing and how its gotten him to where he is today.
#8 – LISA LANDRY, Put Your Keys in the Keybowl
You may recognize Lisa Landry from her excellent 30-minute special, which still gets played on Comedy Central. She’s been a nationally touring headliner for years but 2008 was different as she captured a definitive set that shows off her consistency as well as her position as a deft jokesmith. The track below perfectly illustrates Landry’s personality– she’s a woman with every traditional male foible. The result is hilarious.
#7 – MITCH HEDBERG, Do You Believe in Gosh?
Let’s be honest. Any Mitch Hedberg fan, after hearing Comedy Central would release a posthumous album (his third total), would’ve found it difficult to be critical of said release in the event it actually sucked. Luckily, that prospective dilemma didn’t become a reality. The fact is, Do You Believe in Gosh? — recorded at the Ontario, CA Improv months before his March 2005 death — is an amazingly high quality comedy album– and not just because its consistently funny throughout. That producers decided not to omit a lot of crowd interaction (even hecklers) makes the album even more endearing– giving everyone who wasn’t lucky enough to see him live the best chance possible to feel what the lucky ones did.
#6 – TODD BARRY, From Heaven
Highly respected veteran comic Todd Barry treated us to his third full-length album this year. Though Barry has been a Comedy Central mainstay for the better part of a decade, his profile has risen even more in the past year, thanks, in part, to his appearances on Flight of the Conchords, Freak Show and the Darren Aronofsky flick, The Wrestler. From Heaven finds Barry smarter, more personal and a bit more angry about life. His trademark even-tone delivery — some say monotone — is almost gone completely. Not gone? Hilarity. Check out the clip below.
#5 – ROCKY LaPORTE, Who Knew?
Ever since the premiere of his 2005 Comedy Central Presents, we’ve been impressed with Rocky. He was a guy we hadn’t heard of and we wanted more. Now, the Chicago-bred comic released his first album with little fanfare. His drawn out Italian-American inflection contradicts what most would expect. Largely an observational comic, he barely treads on tired ethnic drivel and instead proves goofy premises and punch lines are still fun– and kind of charming. He plays up that’s he’s not intelligent, but clearly, LaPorte is one of the brightest comics working today. He’ll never win over hipsters or alt-comedy nerds, but his position on this list is well deserved.
#4 – ROBERT KELLY, Just The Tip
If we were giving out an award for “most improved” this year, Robert Kelly would be the clear winner. While the Boston native had proven himself an impressive headliner the last few years with one of the most self-deprecating arsenal of jokes — not to mention an animated stage presence you can’t help but get drawn into — Just the Tip has pushed him into the realm of comics where we can’t wait to see what his next project is. The album came out as Kelly was still on the heels of the success of Dane Cook’s Tourgasm, the HBO series that got a lot of previously unfamiliar comedy fans very familiar with the New York based comic. It’s obvious now, however: Kelly’s comfortable standing alone in the spotlight.
#3 – ANDI SMITH, Homeperm
For the past two seasons of NBC’s Last Coming Standing, St. Louis comic Andi Smith has been unceremoniously voted off in preliminary rounds. Luckily, however, the show at least introduced us to Smith; we knew we should start following her. And we did. Each time a new Andi Smith video clip popped up on RooftopComedy, we were there to watch them again and again. And we were excited to see her on Live at Gotham. When she released Homeperm, we expected a lot– and got it. Her wicked combination of Mid Western mannerisms and a cynicism that would’ve rivaled George Carlin make her impossible to ignore. 2009 will be another all-eyes-on-Andi year. We can’t wait.
#2 – LOUIS C.K., Chewed Up
In 2008, Louis C.K. continued his steady rise to the upper reaches of contemporary stand-up stardom. He’s one of a handful of acts that can sell out large theaters across the country– and for good reason. He’s a fucking genius. C.K. pours out his guts — no matter how ugly — on Chewed Up, all the while making us wish we had the freedom to tell a crowded room what we really think about our children or how depressing it is getting older or just how much you really despise deer. C.K.’s new album — also on DVD as it aired on Showtime — is a brilliant display of what stand-up comedy should be: honest, edgy and funny.
#1 – DOUG BENSON, Professional Humoredian
Fun. Just fun. That’s what Doug Benson’s Professional Humoredian is all about. And gosh darn it, this album is so fun we had no problem naming it the best stand-up comedy album of 2008. Loved and respected on the West Coast, celebrated on VH1′s Best Week Ever, enjoyed on the Internet by every in-the-know comedy fan, Benson provided us with the most laughs per minute than any other comedian this year.
Best known for his odes to pot smoking, The Marijuana-logues and Super High Me, this year’s release should change that. Sure, he’s still a weed champion and sure, the topic makes up a few minutes in Humoredian, but Benson has proven he’s so much more. Benson is a fucking joy to listen to. His relationship with the crowd is genuine, his delivery, dare we say, adorable– and his jokes arrive in incredibly organic fashion; that’s something even the best comedians have to work at. Benson makes it look easy. To borrow a cliched movie-review phrase — we thought Doug would like that — this album is a light romp. And therefore, not really worth dissecting. What you really should do is go out and buy it. Unless you already have it. If that’s the case, go listen to it.
COMIC TO WATCH IN 2009 — Jamie Kilstein
An accomplished writer and slam poetry champion, 26-year-old comedian Jamie Kilstein has proven himself the comic to watch in 2009, especially for those of us who like a little substance in their stand-up. His debut album, Please Buy My Jokes is as solid a first as any comic could hope for. Having label Stand Up! Records behind him doesn’t hurt; this is the indie outfit, headed by Grammy-winner Dan Schlissel that helped launch Lewis Black’s career and consistently puts out records by the likes of Doug Stanhope, Marc Maron and Greg Proops. Incidentally, Kilstein’s comedy is reminiscent of all of the aforementioned: he attacks our social structure with the vitriol of Stanhope, shows his sensitive side like Maron and is Proops-esque in his political dissections.
To be clear, however, he’s not a just a derivative of these guys; Kilstein has his own point of view and shares it liberally. He thinks certain drugs are ok to use; he doesn’t believe in God — rather he believes in humans taking care of one another — he thinks the concept of the sanctity of marriage is horse shit and that his sister’s a bitch for thinking you can figuratively “beat the gay” out of homosexuals. He accomplishes all of this with an earthy tone that appeals not only to the youth but also to well-educated professionals.
Kilstein, despite his age, has already performed around the globe — China, the Netherlands, the UK — and has shows lined up in Spain, France, Australia, Scotland and South Africa for the first half of 2009. The New York-based comic has a lot to be proud of. And we at Punchline Magazine — and you, the comedy fan — have a lot of Kilstein for which to look forward. For now, check out a track from his album below.