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…)