Laughspin presents the 10 best comedy albums of 2011

By | November 30, 2011 at 8:18 am | 69 comments | feature slider, Features | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The end of the year is approaching fast, comedy fans. And so it’s time to count down the 10 best comedy albums of the year. As in years past, this list represents the albums we feel were the strongest. Let it be known: there were more than 150 comedy albums released this year. Let it also be known, that since we launched in 2005 (when we were Punchline Magazine), there has never been a stronger year for quality stand-up albums. It was incredibly difficult to get this list down to 10.

And while the following list represents the very best of the year (in our opinion) there are probably another 10 albums we’d strongly recommend. We also want to note that any album released on or after Nov. 14 will be considered for next year’s list. Ok, that’s enough exposition. Check out the list, listen to the audio samples and let us know what you think in the comments section. Oh, one last note: a list of our favorite comedy DVDs of the year is forthcoming.

10 – AMY SCHUMER — Cutting
Even before she caused a ruckus on the Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen this year when she made what some considered a tasteless joke about Jackass star Steve-O, Amy Schumer had rightfully earned a great deal of attention based on the strength of her jokes and live performances. And the result of her years rising through the New York City comedy scene and headlining clubs across the country is captured on her debut album Cutting, 45 minutes of mostly cringe-inducing observations. Her playful delivery juxtaposed with traditionally dark discussions about venereal diseases and teen pregnancy as well as the well-tread comedy topics of religion and race makes for a startling and hilarious journey through Schumer’s delightfully warped brain. Buy Cutting from iTunes.

Amy Schumer — “Drinking” by Laughspin

9 – JAMIE KILSTEIN – Libel, Slander & Sedition
Not even halfway through his newest album, Jamie Kilstein announces to the audience, “We lost a couple there, cadets. It was just a wave of hatred that got up…This room just got a little happier,” referring to the people walking out of his show after his rant on homophobia. Walking the crowd is something Kilstein does— seeing as anyone who shows up settled in for a night of light-hearted punch lines, will be immediately disappointed in what Kilstein has to offer—which is an hour of mostly breathless politically and socially charged criticisms against society, peppered with hard truths from an ultra-liberal perspective. And although many may think Kilstein is just an “artist douche bag who needs attention” (his description), the comic represents a younger generation of comedians – see also, Lee Camp’s Chaos For the Weary – who are dedicated to using comedy to affect change. Buy Libel from iTunes.

Jamie Kilstein — “Dear Army” by Laughspin

8 – JIM NORTON – Despicable
For more than a decade now, Jim Norton has been at the top of a pile of great cringe comics. Don’t like labels? Fine. How about this: Norton represents everything stand-up comedy should be— a guy or gal at a mic. No rules. No topic off limits; completely uncensored and unrelentingly brutal— mostly to himself. And his third album, Despicable continues this tradition. From opining on gay dudes to a five-minute rant about how much he hates penguins to telling the story about how he once had a threesome with Ron Jeremy, Norton drags a delighted audience through the darkness— and in the process, makes other degenerates feel like they’re not alone. Buy Despicable from iTunes.

Jim Norton — “Ron Jeremy’s Giant Cock” by Laughspin

7 – DOUG STANHOPE – Olso: Burning The Bridge To Nowhere
One of the most prolific comedians working today, Doug Stanhope unleashed yet another outstanding album this year, brimming with stark realizations (“I don’t fuck anymore, really, because I’m old and gross”) a collection of decidedly unfunny ideas – suicide, massacres, abortion (the more babies you have, the more the value of human life drops) – and that ragged, seemingly hung-over, disjointed delivery we’ve come to expect from the workhorse comedian. As is always the case with Stanhope, Olso, recorded in a former Nazi hangout in Norway, this album is for comedy fans that can appreciate nuances and find pleasure in taking chances and comfort in the perverse. Buy Olso from iTunes.

Doug Stanhope — “Dead People’s Baggage” by Laughspin

6 – NORM MACDONALD – Me Doing Standup
Saturday Night Live alum and veteran comedian Norm Macdonald experienced a bittersweet career resurgence this year. He landed his own show on Comedy Central, Sports Show with Norm Macdonald, only to have it canned after one season. Criminal. What’s more criminal, however, is that Me Doing Standup, his genius comedy album, seems like it was largely overlooked. This 10-track disc contains everything you love about Norm— his goofy delivery, his absurd observations and under it all, his scathing commentary on stupid people. Maybe most importantly, Me Doing Standup proves that Norm is more relevant to the comedy world than he ever was– despite his lack of television credits. Buy Me Doing Standup from iTunes.

Norm Macdonald – “Courageous Battle” by Laughspin

5 – PATTON OSWALT – Finest Hour
There’s no denying that Patton Oswalt – a philosopher of sorts, professional observer and lover of comic books – is one of the best and most innovative comedians working today. He deserves every piece of press and praise he gets. So, it was not at all surprising he followed up his stellar 2009 album My Weakness Is Strong with another brilliant collection, Finest Hour. We find Oswalt challenging the concept of God (one our favorite things about him), concerned with his young daughter’s future (he doesn’t want her to become too smart), celebrating the awesome power of Ambien and so much more. While we haven’t listened to the album under the influence of said drug, we can’t imagine it could make Finest Hour any better than it already is. Buy Finest Hour from iTunes.

Patton Oswalt — “The Ham Incident” by Laughspin

4 – MIKE BIRBIGLIA – Sleepwalk With Me, Live
For the better part of a decade, Mike Birbiglia has transitioned from competent, funny observational comedian to one of the most gifted comedic storytellers of our time. If there was any doubt of this, his off-Broadway show Sleepwalk With Me solidified it. And although the show is years old (it opened in late 2008) and a book with the same title was released in early 2010, it wasn’t until this year we got a tidy, live recording of the stories featured in his show. And it doesn’t disappoint. Throughout the album’s 12 tracks, Birbigs opens up about the sleep disorder that finally found him bloodied, covered in glass and driving himself to the hospital, his profound fear of commitment, how bombing onstage made him want to do stand-up comedy and more. The album, like all of Mike’s comedy, defies genres and labels. This is a must have for your comedy collection. Buy Sleepwalk from iTunes.

Mike Birbiglia — “My Brother Joe’s Wedding” by Laughspin

3 – BRIAN REGAN – All By Myself
Near the start of 2011, Brian Regan quietly self released All By Myself as a digital download through his official site— and in the process, proved that a huge publicity push or clever marketing ploys have nothing to do with a superior product. Or constantly selling out huge theaters across the country. And like on his first album, 1997’s Brian Regan Live (he’s released three DVDs between then and now), he also proves that the simplest of topics (kids, traveling, hearing tests), which die in the hands of lesser comics, can be effective catalysts to meaningful and wholly hilarious jokes. Now more than ever, Regan is responsible for longer and more powerful gut-based laughs than any other working comedian. It’s a fact. Buy All By Myself from brianregan.com.

Brian Regan — Restaurants by Laughspin

2 – LOUIS C.K. – Hilarious
Honestly. What’s there left to say about Louis C.K.? The guy is a comedy monster who delivers cathartic, gut-wrenching laughs throughout each new hour he writes, which – lucky for us – he captures on tape every few years. Louie’s gift to the comedy world in 2011 was Hilarious, the follow-up to his late-2008 release Chewed Up. In the end, Hilarious will be remembered as one of the strongest stand-up comedy performances in the history of the art. But, so will Chewed Up. There’s nothing new on Hilarious; his own boundaries aren’t being pushed. Hilarious isn’t more “personal” than his last; he hasn’t expanded his worldview. And, he doesn’t need to. C.K., in short, has just continued to be a fearless comedian who’s able to find humor in honesty. Buy Hilarious from iTunes.

Louis C.K. — “My 3-Year-Old Is A 3-Year-Old” by Laughspin

1 – MARC MARON – This Has To Be Funny
Long before his podcast WTF helped expose his talents to an audience that wasn’t exclusively comprised of hardcore comedy nerds, Marc Maron was one of the best comedians in the country— constantly challenging his small, but dedicated following to find laughs in every one of his very-personal foibles. And his three albums (released between 2005 and 2009 on Stand Up! Records) were a testament to that. So, it only follows that his fourth This Has to be Funny (released by Comedy Central Records), lands at number one on our list.

Funny finds Maron sharper on the stand-up stage than ever, as he deftly – and with an audible joy – bounds from seemingly mundane observations (backyard problems, sex, texting) to existential ruminations about his parents to a nearly 18-minute epic monologue about religion, inspired by his visit to the Creation Museum. At over an hour, we get the most well-rounded version of the man to date — there’s happiness, anger, depression, regret, frustration, satisfaction in there — and the best Maron album since 2006′s Tickets Still Available. Buy This Has to be Funny from iTunes.

Marc Maron – “Cat Guy” by Laughspin

About the Author

Laughspin Staff

Oh, hey. We're the entire writing staff at Laughspin. We wrote the above article all together-- using one finger each.

  • Hank

    The site sucks Maron’s dick. That’s the only reason he beat out Louis. That’s ridiculous. Shame on Laughspin.

    • realjuice

      they didn’t say it was in order, just here are the 10 we like the most.

    • realjuice

      they didn’t say it was in order, just here are the 10 we like the most.

      • Hank

        Of course they’re in order. Jesus Christ, what is wrong with Laughspin? I used to go here for standup comedy news/interviews/reviews. There’s none of that anymore. Now it’s all just news about the Muppets and Nickelback. There’s virtually no standup comedy anymore.

        Can someone please tell me how Louis is below Maron here? Maron’s great but he’s no Louis, and Hilarious is one of the strongest albums of the last 20 years.

      • Hank

        Of course they’re in order. Jesus Christ, what is wrong with Laughspin? I used to go here for standup comedy news/interviews/reviews. There’s none of that anymore. Now it’s all just news about the Muppets and Nickelback. There’s virtually no standup comedy anymore.

        Can someone please tell me how Louis is below Maron here? Maron’s great but he’s no Louis, and Hilarious is one of the strongest albums of the last 20 years.

  • Jfernande

    No Wyatt Cenac? His album had to be considered one of the best of the year. Smart and funny.

    • http://www.facebook.com/matt.manzella Matt Manzella

      Agree, that Wyatt Cenac album was hilarious. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/matt.manzella Matt Manzella

      Agree, that Wyatt Cenac album was hilarious. 

  • Realtalk

    Jamie Kilstein’s album was better than Patrice Oneal’s Elephant in the Room? Really? What’s that sound? The credibility of this comedy site dying.

    • Dylan

      Patrice’s “Elephant in the Room” was released as DVD. And as we say in our intro to this list, there will be a best DVD list coming. Please do some research and reading before you start saying things. Thanks. -dylan

      • Hank

        This list is just so laughable. The site’s credibility is so laughable. Kinda feels like it’s run by one man who just wants to be friends with comedians. This website has become a blog. It’s not a comprehensive site anymore. So disappointing. Anyone know some better standup sites out there?

      • Hank

        This list is just so laughable. The site’s credibility is so laughable. Kinda feels like it’s run by one man who just wants to be friends with comedians. This website has become a blog. It’s not a comprehensive site anymore. So disappointing. Anyone know some better standup sites out there?

      • Hank

        This list is just so laughable. The site’s credibility is so laughable. Kinda feels like it’s run by one man who just wants to be friends with comedians. This website has become a blog. It’s not a comprehensive site anymore. So disappointing. Anyone know some better standup sites out there?

      • Hank

        This list is just so laughable. The site’s credibility is so laughable. Kinda feels like it’s run by one man who just wants to be friends with comedians. This website has become a blog. It’s not a comprehensive site anymore. So disappointing. Anyone know some better standup sites out there?

      • Hank

        This list is just so laughable. The site’s credibility is so laughable. Kinda feels like it’s run by one man who just wants to be friends with comedians. This website has become a blog. It’s not a comprehensive site anymore. So disappointing. Anyone know some better standup sites out there?

      • Realtalk

        Burn. My bad I saw Elephant as a CD online (http://www.cduniverse.com/productinfo.asp?pid=8413625) and thought it was a CD, sorry for my crappy research. With that said this site loves Jamie, even calling him the next Carlin (lazy writing and untrue, Carlin had Punchlines) and is biased towards him. IMO his long rants where he regurgitates popular liberal ideas without real punchlines is not stand up comedy, it’s more like the slam poetry he used to do before.

  • JMorgs

    Man people (alright person) are really up in arms all about this. To say that the list is laughable, is bizarre. How can you say that a list comprised of Louis CK, Marc Maron, Brian Regan, Mike Birbiglia and Norm MacDonald is laughably wrong? 

    First of all, it’s based on the opinion of the Laughspin staff … and because it’s opinion – it can’t “technically” be wrong. They aren’t stating it as fact. They are stating what they think. You think different. My opinion is different too. I loved Pete Holmes album, Rory Scovel’s album, and Tig Notaro’s album so much, they’d be on my best of the year. May not be on yours … Doesn’t mean you have to fire off your fingers like an internet troll. 

    Second, any website that introduces comedians of that caliber to a newer audience is just fine in my book. Not only do they do that, but they also review new and up coming comedians albums, and not all the reviews are great (Baron – oof guys, little rough weren’t ya?) Which is something that’s still relatively hard to find in the comedy web-verse. Shedding light on the best in the business? And new and upcoming acts?! HOW DARE THEY!

    Finally, Really? Louis CK is widely accepted as arguably the best comedian performing today. I understand that, you understand that, the staff at Laughspin understand that, even people who know nothing about comedy understand that. But here is what’s great – Louie, time and time again is the kind of personality that doesn’t give a shit about awards and lists and what not. He’s an artist who makes his work shine. That’s the most important. The fact that people enjoy it at all is enough. Do you think – in the soundest of minds that he would give a rat shit that he (if the list IS in order) came in second behind Marc Maron? No. He’d think it was cool to be suited with the likes of Maron, Regan, Birbigs, and Patton Oswalt.

    Looking forward to the DVD list. Thank you for being one of the few list makers that understands how to separate albums from concert films/specials.

    Keep up the good work guys.

  • Mark

    Would’ve liked to see Sklar Brothers – Hendersons and Daughters and Jen Kirkman – Hail to the Freaks in place of Jim Norton :I

    Good list otherwise, but (though I adore Louie) it seems like a slight cheat to include the CD release of Hilarious despite the DVD coming out well over a year ago… 

  • Cameron

    Isn’t Louis CK’s Hilarious actually a 2010 release? I guess the DVD came out this year, but it was release theatrically in 2010, which, in my book, makes it a 2010 release. The Muppets won’t be a 2012 release just because it’s DVD doesn’t come out until next year.

    • Dylan

      the album was released in Jan. 2011. this is a list of best albums that were released in 2011.

  • Cameron

    Isn’t Louis CK’s Hilarious actually a 2010 release? I guess the DVD came out this year, but it was release theatrically in 2010, which, in my book, makes it a 2010 release. The Muppets won’t be a 2012 release just because it’s DVD doesn’t come out until next year.

  • Hunter

    I think this is a damn good list.

  • Hunter

    I think this is a damn good list.

  • Hunter

    I think this is a damn good list.

  • Hunter

    I think this is a damn good list.

  • Hunter

    I think this is a damn good list.

  • Hunter

    I think this is a damn good list.

  • Hunter

    I think this is a damn good list.

  • Hunter

    I think this is a damn good list.

  • Hunter

    I think this is a damn good list.

  • Hunter

    I think this is a damn good list.

  • Hunter

    I think this is a damn good list.

  • Hunter

    I think this is a damn good list.

  • Hunter

    I think this is a damn good list.

  • Hunter

    I think this is a damn good list.

  • Hunter

    I think this is a damn good list.

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  • Fred

    Dylan has a raging boner for Maron.

  • Arnold Gambis

    It’s still November. You’re planning to ignore 1/12 of the year’s releases?

  • Arnold Gambis

    It’s still November. You’re planning to ignore 1/12 of the year’s releases?

  • Arnold Gambis

    It’s still November. You’re planning to ignore 1/12 of the year’s releases?

  • Arnold Gambis

    It’s still November. You’re planning to ignore 1/12 of the year’s releases?

  • Arnold Gambis

    It’s still November. You’re planning to ignore 1/12 of the year’s releases?

    • Dylan

      as we say in the intro: “We also want to note that any album released on or after Nov. 14 will be
      considered for next year’s list.” please read before making snide remarks. thanks! -dylan

      • Fred

        So why not just wait another 3-4 weeks?

      • Fred

        So why not just wait another 3-4 weeks?

      • Fred

        So why not just wait another 3-4 weeks?

        • Dylan

          oh, Hank… because it’s not fair to judge albums you’ve been listening to for a few weeks against albums you’ve been able to digest for months. most year-end lists do not come out the last week of December for this reason. another reason they don’t come out that late is that readership for all publications — print or online — drops substantially right before and during Xmas and New Year’s and so the list gets lost paid little attention to. Same reason television shows pop on reruns during holidays– it’s not worth for them to premiere a brand new episode when no one’s going to be watching.

          let me know if there’s anything else you’d like for me to explain– though it’s true that writing ignorant things in comments sections of web sites isn’t nearly as fun when you have facts and logic weighing so heavily on your mind.

        • Dylan

          oh, Hank… because it’s not fair to judge albums you’ve been listening to for a few weeks against albums you’ve been able to digest for months. most year-end lists do not come out the last week of December for this reason. another reason they don’t come out that late is that readership for all publications — print or online — drops substantially right before and during Xmas and New Year’s and so the list gets lost paid little attention to. Same reason television shows pop on reruns during holidays– it’s not worth for them to premiere a brand new episode when no one’s going to be watching.

          let me know if there’s anything else you’d like for me to explain– though it’s true that writing ignorant things in comments sections of web sites isn’t nearly as fun when you have facts and logic weighing so heavily on your mind.

      • Fred

        So why not just wait another 3-4 weeks?

    • Dylan

      as we say in the intro: “We also want to note that any album released on or after Nov. 14 will be
      considered for next year’s list.” please read before making snide remarks. thanks! -dylan

  • Arnold Gambis

    It’s still November. You’re planning to ignore 1/12 of the year’s releases?

  • Arnold Gambis

    It’s still November. You’re planning to ignore 1/12 of the year’s releases?

  • Guest

    hey laughspin! stop being subjective. makes you look stupid.

  • Steve

    Kilstein is championed by this site for some reason.  If you like someone’s opinions that aren’t funny and shouted you’ll like his album (if you agree with his poorly made arguments.)  Opinions aren’t jokes!

    • Hank

      Completely agree. Well said. Kilstein’s not a comic; he’s an activist. Dont’ say he can be both. He definitely can, but he by no means is.

  • Drichma1

    I love Louis Ck and I love Marc Maron and while I don’t know which album is better I was WAAAY pleasantly surprised to find out (after seeing him live tonight) that Marc Maron is legitimately hilarious and quite possibly on par with Louis Ck, although his act is less focused. He is one of the most naturally funny people I have ever seen perform live. So while I understand your complaint Hank, you need to see him live…he is one of the best.

    • Hank

      I’ve seen Maron perform several times. He’s wonderful. I love him as a comic, and I love what he represents as a honest, hard-working, integrity-filled comedian. That said, he is not and never will be on par with Louis. Not a slap in the face; just the truth. Louis will go down as one of the most beloved, important and generally excellent comedians of any time.

  • Pete

    No Natasha Leggero? Her record was great. 

    I would also refrain from making it a numbered list in future, its dumb to do that to begin with because all art and reflections on art are personal, but also because it cuts down on arguments to begin with. I mean its only there for the sake of arguments, right? Really there’s only a small amount of ways you can enjoy a comedy record: “Fuckin dying of laughter, I’m hurting because I’ve laughed so much”, “Was steadily funny throughout, but nothing that really made me lose my breath” “I didnt laugh out loud, but it was funny and enjoyable” “Meh I liked 1 joke” and “This isnt funny at all, and therefore sucks, probably to do with the comedian being a douchebag/not having good punchlines/crap delivery/crap stories etc”. To rate outside of that seems like taking focus away from the more important part, which is what about is so funny and why its so funny. 

  • Pete

    No Natasha Leggero? Her record was great. 

    I would also refrain from making it a numbered list in future, its dumb to do that to begin with because all art and reflections on art are personal, but also because it cuts down on arguments to begin with. I mean its only there for the sake of arguments, right? Really there’s only a small amount of ways you can enjoy a comedy record: “Fuckin dying of laughter, I’m hurting because I’ve laughed so much”, “Was steadily funny throughout, but nothing that really made me lose my breath” “I didnt laugh out loud, but it was funny and enjoyable” “Meh I liked 1 joke” and “This isnt funny at all, and therefore sucks, probably to do with the comedian being a douchebag/not having good punchlines/crap delivery/crap stories etc”. To rate outside of that seems like taking focus away from the more important part, which is what about is so funny and why its so funny. 

  • Dave

    Here’s AV Club’s list. It’s much more respectable, mostly because the people who run the site don’t offer to wipe Marc Maron’s ass when he takes a shit. http://www.avclub.com/articles/the-best-comedy-albums-of-2011,66251/

  • Dave

    Here’s AV Club’s list. It’s much more respectable, mostly because the people who run the site don’t offer to wipe Marc Maron’s ass when he takes a shit. http://www.avclub.com/articles/the-best-comedy-albums-of-2011,66251/

  • Tank

    Louis CK’s Hilarious was my favorite followed by Norm McDonald, Brian Regan, Patton Oswalt and Rory Scovels Dilation.  Birbiglias Sleepwalk with me bored me.  I really I just don’t feel like Marcs album was strong enough to be #1.  But I know it’s all an opinion.  

  • Tyler

    Marc Maron is the kind of comedian you laugh at, not with. He’s a steadfast narcissist who’s lucky enough to make money off of his psychosis. You don’t get jokes at a Maron show. You get pathetic semi-comical stories from someone who’s shitty at dealing with everyday life. 

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  • http://twitter.com/lastsolfa Pezhman Zahed

    louis ck hilarious was 2010

  • http://twitter.com/lastsolfa Pezhman Zahed

    louis ck hilarious was 2010

  • Anonymous

    You forgot Rory Scovel.

  • Anonymous

    You forgot Rory Scovel.