And you thought we were done with lists this year. By now, you’ve probably seen our picks for the 10 best stand-up comedy albums of 2008. But sometimes comedians just release a DVD without a CD companion; or maybe their DVD is more noteworthy than their audio version of the same release. That’s why this list exists. Enjoy.
#5 – JIMMY DORE, Citizen Jimmy
Seemingly from out of nowhere, veteran comic Jimmy Dore made a huge, and poignant impression on the stand-up comedy world in 2008, premiering his first hour-long special on Comedy Central. Citizen Jimmy was released on DVD Aug. 5 and with it came an excellent documentation of keen, incisive social and political criticism. Of course, Dore didn’t actually come out of nowhere. He’s been a well-respected part of the national comedy fabric for the better part of a decade; more recently he’s been heading up the popular podcast Comedy and Everything Else with Todd Glass and Stefane Zamorano. With an everyman attitude and light delivery, its easy for comedy fans to be quickly taken in by Dore. Buy it here.
#4 – BILL BURR, Why Do I Do This?
Since his recurring appearances on the first season of Chappelle’s Show in 2003, Bill Burr had grabbed the attention of even the most casual of comedy fans. Those in the comedy know, however, knew that even in his pre-Emotionally Unavailable days Burr was no supporting player. And in 2008, with the release of Why Do I Do This? he made that painfully clear. In the hour special, we find Burr more personal and emotionally fragile than ever, as he constantly questions his status as a “functioning psycho,” in part, by exploiting his disturbing admissions to his audience, e.g. What if I ran over those 30 people on the sidewalk? The special is a testament to why honesty in comedy is the best policy. Buy it here.
#3 – BRIAN REGAN, The Epitome of Hyperbole
As part of his two-comedy-special deal with Comedy Central, contemporary stand-up master Brian Regan released this excellent follow-up to 2007’s Standing Up. Contained within, are dozens of examples of what the Florida native does best– extract the funny out of inherently mundane experiences and observations. Buy it here.
#2 – GEORGE CARLIN, It’s Bad For Ya
A lot of the first half of George Carlin’s final HBO special, It’s Bad For Ya deals with the concept of death, which was sadly fitting this year as the comedy legend died. But there was nothing sad about Carlin’s performance, bouncing back from his previous special, Life is Worth Losing, which was much less praised by critics and fans alike. In the special, he embraces his over 70 status but not the way most comics would: he’s proud to be an “old fuck,” he enjoys using, “I’m tired” as an excuse to get out family affairs and he wasn’t above faking Alzheimer’s so he could just be left alone. But beyond talk of age and being old, It’s Bad For Ya is crammed full Carlin’s caustic attacks on religion, those who are obsessed with having children and the general malaise that is, in his view, what America is all about. In his words: It’s one big transcontinental, cross country red white and blue stroke job.” Buy it here.
#1 – MIKE BIRBIGLIA, What I Should’ve Said was Nothing: Tales From My Secret Public Journal
Mike Birbiglia’s latest release sits firmly in our number one spot not only because it was the highest quality stand-up performance caught on tape this year, but also because of its historic significance in the comedy world. We’ve been saying it since Punchline Magazine‘s launch in September of 2005: Mike Birbiglia is going to be something of our next stand-up comedy icon; whether he ever becomes as big as Chris Rock or Jerry Seinfeld doesn’t matter. True comedy fans will know.
And this meticulous, well-paced performance would become the tangible start of his crossing over into the highest reaches of stand-up stardom. This DVD — and its previously released CD version — finds the 30-year-old in a more mature, almost Cosby-esque story telling phase; it served as the public’s pre-cursor to his off-Broadway one-man show, Sleepwalk With Me, which runs until March of 2009. Birbiglia deftly weaves mini jokes inside each of his short stories, making it easy for his audience to find laughs at every turn. Our eyes will obviously be on Birbiglia in the new year. If you care about comedy, so should yours. Buy it here.