This is a list of comedy albums that led me along my path of stand-up. If this was The Alchemist and I was a douchebag, they are my girls in the dessert. This is not a Top Ten Favorite Albums Ever list or even a Top Ten Albums That Changed Comedy History list. I even mixed in a few specials and non traditional comedy albums because I am throwing caution to the wind; it is, after all, Crazytown. If you are an avid comedy fan share your comedy listening adventure, but don’t tell me what I should add, it’s my list and I hate that shit. If you don’t listen to comedy maybe take a gander at some the artists listed, they might keep you off the ledge a little longer.
By Leah Bonnema (Stand Up Comic)
Comedy albums are like little vacations from your own incessant and often tortured thinking: "I have to pay bills, why don't my jeans fit, why does my mother's family hate me so much?" They provide you with an hour to laugh at someone else's tortured thinking, to be transported into the comic's world view and then laugh some more. Laughing adds years to your life. Its a fact. I googled it.
Where it all began: I was not allowed to watch television growing up. Sometimes when my parents needed leverage I was allowed one of three options: Today's Special (The PBS kids show with a mouse puppet named Muffy and a mannequin that comes to life at night, WTF), Star Trek (the original with William Shatner which was my dad's favorite show when I was growing up, he taped them all on VHS. I now have a thing for Vulcans and am a die hard Battlestar Galactica fan-Thanks Dad) and last but not least, if I took a bath ONCE A WEEK and then let my mom comb out my hair I was allowed to stay up late and watch The Cosby show. I think its fair to assume I was gross. Instead of watching TV nightly we listened to records and tapes. It started with Free To Be You and Me and Jay O'Callahan. I absolutely loved listening to stories. The top ten list begins here, early childhood, and travels to about four years ago, later childhood.
- Bill Cosby-Wonderfulness My dad played this album over and over again. I remember sitting in the kitchen listening to the Chicken Heart that Ate Chicago so many times my cheeks hurt. And then my dad would retell me the story right after.
- Garrison Keillor -A Prairie Home Companion We listened to The Prairies set in the car, after dinner, in the living room. Storytelling at its best, fantastic humor, I was transported to Lake Wobegon .
- Bette Midler-Beaches Not a comedy record you say?! I had the tape and I listened to it so many times I wore it out. I loved the song Otto Titsling. It’s the first time I remember thinking: is this chick singing about tits right now? I love it. Give me more. Are people doing this?! I want in.
- Richard Pryor- Anthology 1968-1992 This is a two CD album and the second CD is my favorite. I would listen to it and think: this is real shit, hard shit, life shit, and Pryor is putting it out there for us and making us laugh at the same time. I'm in love.
- Sam Kinison - Have You Seen Me Lately? So raw and electric I felt like burn victim. A favorite. Kinison was my first foray into loving someone who I agreed with nothing they said. Funny's funny and that laugh is inspiring.
- Chris Rock's HBO Special Bigger and Blacker I have (yeah have, not had, I keep my VHSs) Bigger and Blacker on VHS. I have all of Mister Rock's albums and specials and I love them. However, "The Ghost of Pussy Past" has a warm place in my heart. Anytime a friend would go in for an HIV test I would make them listen to the clip. You know its a good fuckin' joke, when its getting people thru waiting for blood results.
- Louis CK Comedy Central Presents 2001-my first date with Louis. This is not my favorite special of his per say, but the one that introduced him to me. If you are new to comedy take a listen to any of CK's work, destructively good. I would replay his track about not being able to take money out of the bank like it was a single off an Eminem album.
- Ellen DeGeneres - Taste This I had this album on repeat in the stereo in my bathroom so I could listen to it every time I showered. Fantastic, clean, unique delivery.
- Greg Giraldo - Good Day to Cross A River A perfect album. The ultimate in "dirty" smart. He is greatly missed.
- Lewis Black Comedy Central Presents 3 Season 1 I have all of his cds. I love them. I listen to them when I am working out, all that yelling makes me feel energized. Black does an incredible job at taking things that make him angry or are fucked up in our society and making them palpably funny. I feel released after listening to a Black album. When my mom was in the car accident, we played comedy albums in her hospital room. We would feel sad and then my dad would say his favorite line from this special "Put tin foil on your head so you know who they are" and we could make it a few more minutes. Thats why I love comedy and we need comedy.