We’re solidly in a second stand-up comedy boom. Back in the ’80s thousands of comics rolled up the sleeves of their blazers and ushered in a wave of observational humor–almost exclusively told in front of bare, brick walls. Now, in the second decade of this new millennium, the new boom doesn’t acknowledge fashion or facades as much as it’s reliant on the ever so “democratic” internet, specifically the wide world of podcasting–and let’s not forget about Twitter, y’all.
Observational anecdotes are still the bread and butter of the industry, but the alternative wave in the ’90s, the confessional and/or ever-evolving nature of podcasts, and the bite-sized nuggets on Twitter leave us with something a bit more complex than well-written airline cracks. My top ten, alone, is wildly diverse while still adhering, primarily, to observational formats.
Without any weight in “the biz,” and without exerting a whole heck of a lot of energy, I heard something in the neighborhood of 50 comedy records this year. Almost every album had at least a good chunk, but about 20 albums really shined as not only hilarious sets, but as valuable cultural artifacts. Seriously, this year was so good I had to slide “Weird Al” Yankovic’s solid Alpocalypse down to the honorable mention section (spoiler alert!). (more…)


We’re already over halfway through 2011. I wanted to highlight a few fine records I’ve gotten into so far. I wrote up a list of my favorite Iowa City releases for Little Village Magazine already, so I won’t be rehashing that, I’ll just single out some stellar releases and unnecessarily pigeon-hole and qualify them cause, why not?

Mike Birbiglia
Sleepwalk With Me (Live)
Comedy Central Records

This is a no-brainer. I haven’t heard many comedy albums in 2011 (not for lack of material, but for lack of finances), but I have a hard time imagining a comedy recording that I’ve yet to hear from 2011 with as much heart and laughs as deep as Mike Birbiglia‘s latest release.
Sleepwalk With Me is not a stand-up record though. Birbiglia has been touring with this one man show for a few years (compiled the stories into a book as well) and finally committed it to record for posterity. (more…)

It’s only March, but we’re getting ready for the invasion of many of the country’s finest comedic minds upon the Windy City in mid June for the Just for Laughs festival.
Well before all the greats descend upon Chicago, some of the emerging local talent (and a few gents from Minneapolis) are going to test their skills to see if they can’t net a slot in one of the festival’s many showcases. Thursday night, at The Red Bar Comedy Club, 15 comics will take the stage for that very honor.
You can order tickets here (just five bones!) or if you need more convincing, I’ve posted a video and link to each comics webpage below. (more…)

(Photo care of Erin Nekervish)

The Lincoln Lodge claims to be the longest-running independent comedy showcase in the nation, and it very may well be; but there aren’t a whole lot of statistics to confirm or deny such a claim. However, after my recent trip up to this weekly showcase, I can verify that the bulk of the troupe’s comedians are pretty darn good. (Some are on the precipice of being damn great.) (more…)

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? (more…)