Laughspin presents: The 10 Best Comedy Albums of 2012

By | December 6, 2012 at 12:48 pm | 55 comments | feature slider, Lists, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s that time of the year again where we present to you, dear Laughspinners, the 10 best comedy albums of the year. I say this every year, but it’s true: Since launching in 2005 and since there were well over 100 comedy albums released in 2012, this has been the most difficult year to pick just 10 great albums. As with all lists of this nature, what you see below represents our opinions, having paid close attention to the world of comedy throughout the year. I’ve asked Laughspin writers to submit their favorite albums and I’ve factored those in— especially where I saw patterns and repeat mentions of the same album.

I’m sure a great many of you will agree with our choices. I’m also positive a great many of you will passionately disagree. And that’s fine. Please feel free to use the comments section. But please act like a decent human being. This is supposed to be fun and it’s supposed to generate discussion about comedy. And it should be a place where real comedy lovers can share their opinions. So, please do all of those things— just don’t be a jerk.

Eligibility for this year’s list started on Nov. 14, 2011 and ended on Nov. 13, 2012. To be considered, the recorded material had to be at least 40 minutes (We’re not the Grammys; we have standards). We did not consider any old material that was re-released. I also want to mention that I realize there are no women on this list. We don’t hate women. Finally, I wanted to mention that there is a list of our favorite stand-up specials forthcoming. With all that said, please enjoy Laughspin’s 10 Best Comedy Albums of 2012!

10. Ben Roy – I Got Demons

If you don’t know it yet, let us be the first to say it: Ben Roy is a fucking force. Built on admissions about his former alcoholism and panic attacks, endearing-yet-X-rated tributes to his wife and son, angry rants about television and the country’s pop culture heroes and everything in between, I Got Demons is an excellent introduction to the Denver-bred comic. Not since Greg Giraldo has there been a comic with a point of view so firmly anchored in frustration and vulnerability— and those two things (along with a healthy dose of self-awareness, which Roy has) are some of the most valuable weapons a comic could own. Only time will tell if Roy will rise to the level of Giraldo’s brilliance. Consider yourself a proper comedy nerd if you already know Roy’s work. And if you don’t, consider yourself tipped off. You’re welcome. Buy it here.

9. John Moses – On the Edge

For those of you wondering when the hell Dave Attell is going to put out a new album, John Moses’ debut effort On the Edge might ease your suffering. And that’s not to say Moses is derivative of the comic’s comic, it’s just they have a similar club comic spirit. To be sure, Moses’ words come fast and furious, but not at the expense of thoughtful analysis of the world around us. Powerfully opinionated, Moses deftly editorializes on race, sex, drugs, alcoholism and just about everything you’d like to hear about from a guy born into a colorful, dysfunctional family made up of a Jamaican step-mother, a Filipino brother-in-law and a “ton of fags.” In addition to landing on our Top 10 list, we’re bestowing upon this album an honor we just made up: The One Album From 2012 You Should Get By A Comedian You Probably Never Heard Of. It just rolls of the tongue. Buy it here.

8. Patrice O’Neal – Mr. P

Though it’s been a year since Patrice O’Neal died after suffering a stroke, 2012 has certainly not been devoid of his presence. In addition to seeing him in the comedy flick Nature Calls (with Patton Oswalt), three months after his death, Mr. P was released, and with it the perfect representation of O’Neal’s brutally honest comedy. Revered in the comedy world as a guy that simply couldn’t even begin to care about what people thought about him, Mr. P finds O’Neal explaining, in no uncertain terms, why women need men, why white women are easy to deal with and why it’s nearly impossible to cheat on your girlfriend these days— all while earning sturdy laughs from the Washington D.C. audience. And while he touches on politics, slavery and yes, even his cute little dogs, O’Neal artfully proves there’s many layers to a person. It’s just that O’Neal was brave enough to expose each one of his. Buy it here.

7. Nate Bargatze – Yelled at by a Clown

For the last few years, Nate Bargatze has been gaining the respect of his peers, headlining across the country and has even cracked mainstream comedy conscience with a trio of appearances on Conan and his own half-hour special on Comedy Central. And this year, the comedy world was gifted with a hilarious, pristine set of Bargatze’s comedy to be played over and over again! “With his understated delivery and low-energy approach on stage, Bargatze proves the most valuable weapon a comedian can possess is a well-written, intelligent joke,” Laughspin scribe Billy Procida wrote in October. “Throughout the album, Bargatze bounces from quick-laugh jokes to expertly crafted stories and extended ruminations– all packed with wholly satisfying punch lines.” Bargatze is truly an everyman comic — an underdog armed only with wits — who comedy fans can’t help but embrace. Buy it here.

6. Eddie Pepitone – A Great Stillness

Though his popularity has certainly increased in the last few years, thanks, in no small part, to his brilliant use of Twitter, the documentary film The Bitter Buddha, his daily appearances on the live-action comic strip Puddin’ and the Longshot Podcast on which he appears with three co-hosts, Eddie Pepitone is still one of them most underrated comedians today. And even though the aforementioned projects highlight the veteran comedian’s lovably agitated-yet-sensitive personality, it’s his stand-up that proves the best indicator of what a truly talented humorist Pepitone is. And that’s why A Great Stillness, is so special. Recorded at Gotham Comedy Club in New York City, Pepitone tells jokes, relates stories, makes the crowd part of the show, ends up heckling himself and in short, really turns the concept of stand-up comedy on its already-misshapen head. Pepitone proves that if a comic has excellent instincts, even the most absurd comedy can be delightfully accessible. Buy it here.

5. Gary Gulman – No Can Defend

Coming from a guy who has performed a perfect five minutes about grapefruit, it’s not at all surprising that Gary Gulman’s newest album features a hilarious six minutes on Netflix and 10 minutes on The Karate Kid— a deconstruction of Dorothy’s friendship with the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz embedded therein, naturally. And that’s how most of No Can Defend moves along— playfully. Perhaps most endearing about the album is that Gulman gives the listener permission to happily dwell on and laugh about some of the most seemingly trivial aspects of life. The closing bit “Role Play,” alone, is worth the $10 purchase price. The extended joke perfectly encapsulates what a brilliant writer and storyteller Gulman is. Also, No Can Defend is the only comedy album this year that contains the word “verisimilitude.” Buy it here.

4. Tom Papa – Live in New York City

Tom Papa has long been one of the comedy world’s greatest talents— albeit, one with only a single proper comedy album from 2006. Unacceptable! Thankfully that changed this year when Live in New York City was released, and comedy lovers finally had access to an updated, gorgeously polished hour of Papa. While a lot of the album is anchored on his life as a husband and father, Papa handles these well-worn concepts with class and with a level of honesty that would make most “happily married” parents cringe. Papa also knows how to go dark (drinking alone at the sink in order to deal with his family) without losing a mainstream crowd and simultaneously impress even the most obsessed sub-genre comedy snobs. Buy it here.

3. Hannibal Buress – Animal Furnace

Ever since the release of his plainly titled debut album My Name is Hannibal two years ago, Hannibal Buress has established himself as one of the straight-up funniest comics working today (he was just featured in Vanity Fair‘s comedy issue), packaging pure goofiness with sharp intelligence inside a delivery that’s equal parts laid-back cool-guy and excitable child. And his sophomore effort Animal Furnace thankfully carries on in similar fashion. Whether he’s relating the horror that is having to defecate on a plane, telling a story about trying to bed a woman obsessed with rape stats or regaling the crowd about the time he wrote an ill-fated sketch for Megan Fox during his time on Saturday Night Live, Buress has the seemingly natural ability to engage a crowd in any setting. For these reasons and more, Buress lands safely on this list. Buy it here.

2. Todd Barry – Super Crazy

He just celebrated 25 years in comedy and his latest album Super Crazy proves Todd Barry has never been funnier— which says a lot, seeing as his first three albums are packed with jokes so well written and so incisive, most comedians could only dream of matching wits. On Super Crazy, Barry, true to form, delves into the simplest of concepts – needlessly passionate Amazon reviews, obnoxious people at restaurants, dining at airports – and mines more laughs than should be possible. It’s all wrapped in Barry’s understated-yet-cocksure delivery (yes, it can be done!) and drizzled liberally in sweet, delicious derision. Buy it here.

1. John Mulaney – New in Town

What can we say about John Mulaney’s second album? Well, let’s see what Laughspin writer Jake Kroeger said about it upon its release earlier this year: “New in Town is exquisitely written and delivered with a professionalism equal to comedians twice his age.” Yep! That about summarizes the best stand-up comedy release of 2012. But you want more juice. We get it.

“Mulaney presents a perfect mix of long-form stories stuffed with satisfying details, quicker anecdotes and straight-up punch line-heavy jokes,” the review continues. “Whether it’s embarrassing stories about lying to his doctor (sometimes you have to sacrifice your ass if you want that Xanax prescription) or high school parties gone terribly awry (why yes, that is poop on your computer), the Saturday Night Live scribe approaches it with a perfect amount of self-deprecation that never inspires “awwws” from the audience. In fact, Mulaney introduces controversy every so often, though he’s always careful to disclaim a bit, as in, “This is going to get playfully anti-semetic, so just let it go there. I’ll get in trouble. You won’t.”

If you haven’t already picked up New in Town, you should do so immediately. If you own it already, please pass it along to a friend who isn’t as smart about comedy as you. Buy it here.

Be sure to subscribe to the Laughspin Podcast for weekly comedy news, audio clips and more!

About the Author

Dylan P. Gadino

Dylan is the founder and editor in chief of Laughspin. He launched Punchline Magazine in 2005 (which became Laughspin in the summer of 2011) with childhood friend Bill Bergmann. Dylan lives in northern New Jersey with his wife and two sons. He hopes the Shire is real.

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  • SteveM

    Still one of my favorites – and I hear it a lot on sat. radio is Dave Anderson
    “Who will find me, who will care”

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  • Stop it

    Ben Roy is garbage…Comparing him to Giraldo is like comparing Kobe and Air Bud.

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  • ol dirty bus stop

    Gulman, Mulaney and Barry also made the Comedy Reviews top ten this year. Good list –

  • Guest

    great list, but where the heck is Doug Stanhope’s “Before Turning the Gun on Himself”?!!!”??

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  • Sean

    When is Laughspin going to release the “Every Comedy Album of All Time On One List So Everyone Is Happy” Awards?

    • Dylan

      well done, Sean.

  • MJD8000

    I didn’t read the thing but I want to complain about it anyway. Is this where I do that?

    • Dylan

      well done. very well done.

      • MJD8000

        I was lucky enough to get to see Pepitone in Scotland this year and it was one of the most remarkable stand-up sets I’ve ever seen. The record is a great representation of what he does. I’m furious that he didn’t make your Best Actresses of the 50s list.

        • Dylan

          i’m sorry, but Pepitone’s work as an actress in the 1950s was abysmal! if you think otherwise, i feel bad for you.

  • Gubby

    Rick Shapiro?

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  • Sarah Mowrey

    Really? No tig? Or any other women? Schumer? Bamford? Any women at all?

    • Andrew Hess

      Tig’s album was too short to qualify, Schumer’s “Cutting” was 2011 and Maria didn’t have an album out since 2009.

      • Dylan

        thanks, Andrew…. like i said in my intro, sarah: i realize there are no women on the list. i’m not trying to hide it. women have been on our top 10 lists every single year. it just didn’t happen this year for the albums list. everyone is judged equally. also, remember that a stand-up special list is forthcoming.

  • steven

    what a terrible- hipster catering list.

    no mention of louie or stanhope or burr or any of the other amazing specials that came out this year- that could all easily smoke half this list. hell- you got patrice in 8th place, losing out to stuff like gary gulman of all people.

    this isn’t a list of the ‘best comedy albums’- its more like a list of ‘obscure alt comedy albums that we happen to like’

    • Flatchy

      You’re right. Gary Gulman, Tom Papa, Patrice O’Neal, Todd Barry, John Mulaney are all real “hipster” acts.

    • Dylan

      like i said in the intro, steven… there is a list that will rank stand-up specials. this is an albums list. so don’t get too worked up over not seeing your favorite comics yet.

      • Steven

        That’s just blatantly incorrect, Dylan.

        The top three on the list are just comedy central specials that ‘happen’ to have an audio option- the exact same format as most of the ‘specials’ I was referring too; Pretty much every stand-up DVD these days give users the option to download just the audio- there is absolutely no difference between the many specials I was referring to and the items featured. It is not even close to a purely ‘album’ list like you are implying.

        If you are going to separate them into categories- then you should show at least SOME constancy in your criteria for classification; otherwise -from my point of view at least- it comes across as very biased in favor of newer more obscure comics, whilst completely ignoring the more well-known veteran comics

        • Dylan

          hey, steven. i appreciate your feedback. so let’s clear some things up. sometimes the albums are, in fact, different than the specials and DVDs, even if it’s just a few different tracks or the same tracks but in extended form… sometimes — not often — they’re totally different recordings. In fact, Demetri Martin’s new album this year is a completely different recording than his DVD/special. And by the way, he’s not on the list and he’s the epitome of what i would assume you’d label as “hipster.” Another example: Chad Daniels put out an album this year as well as a special– two totally different recordings. Furthermore, Gary Gulman’s album is completely different than the special that’s premiering on Comedy Central this weekend. Tom Rhodes also released an album this year that’s completely different than his special released through Netflix.

          if you visit this site, you should realize that we celebrate all sorts of comics: new, old, obscure, famous. on this list alone Todd Barry, Eddie Pepitone, Gary Gulman, Tom Papa and Patrice (RIP) aren’t exactly “new” or “obscure” as you say. And if you think they are, then i’d imagine you’re interest in comedy is somewhat narrow– which is fine. but don’t slag a list that’s more diverse just because your favorites aren’t on there or because you think it’s biased. would you have complained if it was a list with nothing but cringe comics? probably not. it would truly be biased as you allege, but at least it would be biased based on your tastes, right? i doubt you’d write in and say, “Dylan! i LOVE all these comics, but don’t you think you should’ve included some different style of comedy on here– ya know, for the hipsters?”

          i’ll say it again. there’s a stand-up specials list coming. those selections will have been made because either the visual representation of their material has become a more definitive piece over the audio/album version or because we feel the visual version better represents the material. Or because there is NO AUDIO VERSION. For instance. Bill Burr self-released his own special and then released it through Netflix. There is no commercially available audio version of it. so, i’m not quite sure why you even brought him up. i don’t mind you disagreeing, but it’s frustrating to get comments from people who don’t even check on their facts before responding.

          Should I have put Louis C.K.’s audio version of Live at the Beacon on this list? Of course not. He’s going on the specials list, because that’s the more definitive release of Beacon.

          i think the main disconnect is that we’re the only place that separates albums from specials. i just don’t believe in comparing the two since they’re consumed in totally different ways. just came out with their best “specials” of the year list. i think Vulture does a great job covering pop culture throughout the year. but this is the type of list i try to avoid. they lump everything together. they list Patrice, James Adomian and Tig Notaro; they’re not even “specials,” unless they’re trying to redefine what most comedy consumers and the comedy industry define as “specials.” they’re available in audio-only format. then they throw in Rory Scovel’s half hour special from comedy central in there. it amounts to less than 21 minutes of material. i don’t believe you should compare 21 minutes of comedy to nearly an hour of comedy.

          no list is perfect, including ours. but we take a lot of care to treat comedy the way it should be treated. i hope you appreciate that. and stay tuned for the specials list, won’t you?

          • David

            You never replied to Dan: why didn’t you ever make a top ten specials of 2011?

      • Dan

        Dylan, did you ever put out the list of best DVDs for 2011? I can’t find it

      • Andre Howard

        You made a great list and abide by the guidelines set out. I have no idea why you’re answering these peoples questions. They clearly didn’t read the article or do any research regarding release dates. They just posted the fanboy approach of “Where is my favorite artist, you’re stupid, I hate this list.” Don’t feed the trolls Dylan :)

    • Tim W

      next time read the category. Best comedy album, not DVD, not specials but albums!

  • Chip Seinfeld

    Why isn’t Chip Seinfeld’s new album “Dingleberry” on the list? That’s a great album!

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  • John Ron

    why isn’t Philbert Ooper’s instant classic “Fart and Dick Jokes” on this list?

  • Walker Schwartz

    I’m betting Joe Rogan’s special coming out on 12/18/12 will deserve to be on this list.

  • Jason M. Steele

    No mention of Stanhope’s “Before Turning the Gun on Himself”? Blasphemy!

    • Walker Schwartz

      Completely agree.

  • Gabe

    No Paul F Tompkins?

  • notfromamerica

    Yet another “best comedy albums” list that completely ignores anything produced outside of America. And people say you’re ignorant about foreign cultures.

  • Mark N

    Pepitone’s heckler bit (particularly part 2 on the album) is the most transcendent comedy piece released in the last several years. Far better than #6 imo.

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  • Derek

    Good list. Totally down with #1 and #2… but I sure woulda liked to have seen Sean Patton’s “Standard Operating Procedure” on there. Damn fine album, that was.

  • Mat

    Great list, but where is Tig Notaro’s “Live”?

    • Jon Cant

      Dylan mentioned that, to be considered, an album had to be at least 40 minutes long, and Tig’s is just over 30 minutes. If that requirement was lifted, then I agree that “Live” should be up there. It was an incredible piece of confessional stand up that should be required listening for any comedy fan.

    • Dylan

      As mentioned in the intro to the list, only albums that were at least 40 minutes were eligible. Tig’s release is 31 minutes. I thought comparing Tig’s album — as great as it was — didn’t make sense when put up against proper headlining sets. It’s more of an EP– something between, say, Patrice’s 20-minute digital single and a full-length album.

      • Red Durkin

        Yeah, because manipulating your own arbitrary rules in order to include the most celebrated act of comedy of the entire year would be totally crazy! Plus, adding a woman would have thrown off the intractable “dudes only” rule!

  • Justin Tyler

    You forgot James Adomian “Low Hanging Fruit”, Rory Scovel “Dilation” and Tom Segura “white girls with cornrows”

    • NotJeff

      I believe Dilation was 2011. Low Hanging Fruit was great!

  • maggie r.

    Would have loved to see Lee Camp on this list.

    • Dylan

      Lee’s album was solid for sure. It was an amazingly competitive year in comedy.

  • Cody Nelson

    10 great choices, and I fully support the #1 choice, but man, Kyle Kinane has been wholly glossed over yet again.

    • Dylan

      Kinane’s album will be eligible next year. His album came out well after Nov. 13, the deadline mentioned in the intro of the list. Whiskey Icarus, like his first album, is outstanding.

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