Though recording a comedy album of any kind is largely just a matter of capturing spoken word, the sound quality of the laughter is something to consider.
Last night I (along with more than 100 others) was lucky enough to watch Patton Oswalt run through the new special he’s recording on Saturday. Besides feeling like I’m part of some footnote in comedy history, Oswalt — when he mentioned that he was recording the new hour in a gorgeous and considerably larger theater in Seattle — got me thinking about the crowd noise effects the listeners’ experience of a comedy album.
In the packed back room of the Nerdist Theater, the sound of 100 people laughing, to me, felt better, than what I’d experience if I were watching an album be recorded at a venue like Carnegie Hall.
In fact, in a big theater, the acoustics of the space force the laughs to echo and consequently sound faint. On Louis CK’s most recent release, Hilarious, though it’s clear that he’s in a cavernous room of the Pabst Theater with hundreds of people in attendance, the volume of laughs remain relatively soft, the sound of laughs and applause presumably reflecting through the gigantic space. As a result, there’s just too much distance, which only highlights the fact that your really not part of the live experience.
The laughs at a small, tightly packed space seem louder, bigger, and more distinct. Kyle Kinane’s album, Death of the Party recorded at the UCB Theatre in Los Angeles, boasts laughs just as loud as Kinane himself. It’s much more personal.
Though the live experience can never be fully replicated, there are degrees, in which we can get closer or further from it, depending on production value. So, how would you like to hear a comedy album recorded? In a gorgeous concert hall? In a black box theater? Perhaps, in a dive bar with a stage?
Let us know in the comments section.