2010 was a deceptively great year for comedy. Few of stand up’s biggest names released new material, but this was a big year for new comics. In fact, four of my top five favorite comedy recordings of 2010 are debuts (as well as two discs on my honorable mentions list). My list will be light on write-ups because in this day of embedded videos, why tell when I can actually show?

1. Kyle Kinane – Death of the Party (AST Records)
Like an angrier, less comic book-nerdy version of Patton Oswalt, Kyle Kinane brings all the intelligence and phenomenal diction of Oswalt (whom Kinane spent the summer opening for), but amps up the theatrical intensity and sharpens his rage. Kinane’s debut record covers loads of subjects from insomnia, his first bowel movement in a bar, and the mystique and “subtle racism” of Trader Joe’s (see video below). This is easily one of the single greatest comedy albums of the past ten years, and one can only hope Kinane continues to grow and mature.

2. Hannibal Buress – My Name is Hannibal (Stand Up! Records)
Hannibal Buress has been my favorite up and coming comedian for at least the last two or three years, and now that he’s writing for Saturday Night Live (Buress ended his tenure with SNL in September) 30 Rock and finally has a record and a special, Buress may not be an up and comer any more. Buress bares some resemblance to the late Mitch Hedberg, utilizing bizarre, burned-out delivery for his strange jokes. However, Buress, for the most part, prefers longer, anecdotal and observational humor, rather than Hedberg’s THC-infused one-liners..

3. Myq Kaplan – Vegan Mind Meld (Live at Comix)
Myq Kaplan plays a nifty trick on his audience, because Kaplan rattles through his bits at such a high clip, he almost whittles classic story-based observational fare into snappy one-liners. Kaplan may also come close to the record for number of puns per minute (PPM?). These puns and other wordplay humor provide more small little spikes in his bits, giving the further illusion of brevity. Kaplan and Greg Proops are like the Stephen Sondheims of comedy, cramming as many words, jokes and turns into a space as possible. I’m sure there will be few comedy records released in the next few years which will reward repeat listens as much as Kaplan’s splendid debut.

4. Matt McCarthy – Come Clean (Live at Comix)
Matt McCarthy’s debut sees him following in the esoteric and fractured footsteps of Eugene Mirman. Two of McCarthy’s strongest paced and surprisingly hilarious bits are centered around reading notes and e-mails, a practice Mirman has made central in all of his records. Between reading a long series of failed suicide notes (“Bye good world cruel…Fuck, I can’t even do this right.” being an early favorite of mine) and closing with an immaculately structured 25 questions-style e-mail recitation, McCarthy touches on being a ginger (“the unsung minority”), smoking, bad first dates, and gift ideas from Planned Parenthood. It’s a strong, promising debut for a comic who may still be honing his voice.

5. Doug Benson – Hypocritical Oaf (Comedy Central Records)
Doug Benson’s third album, recorded on April 20th (get it? 4/20!), definitely loses something from Benson’s altered state of mind. The host of one of my favorite podcasts, Doug Loves Movies, stumbles, blinded by a haze of THC, through the first three to four tracks of the recording. Benson is a pro, and he shouldn’t take so long to get started. After the first, pot-addled, 15-20 minutes of Hypocritical Oaf, he settles into a groove and the laughs come easy and frequently.

Honorable Mentions (in something resembling an order):

Brian Posehn – Fart and Weiner Jokes (Relapse Records), Paul F. Tompkins – Sir, You Have Fooled Me Twice (AST Records), Anthony Jeselnik – Shakespeare (Comedy Central Records), David Cross – Bigger and Blackerer (Subpop Records), Aziz Ansari – Sensual Moments for an Intimate Evening (Comedy Central Records), Bo Burnham – Words, Words, Words (Comedy Central Records)

Also of note, three specials which were aired but have yet to be released on CD or DVD: Louis C.K. – Hilarious, Paul F. Tompkins – You Should Have Told Me, & Janeane Garofalo – If You Will

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