In 2007, my iPod took a slight turn towards “old man living in Maine,” with a bunch of “This American Life” and “Lake Wobegone” podcasts joining my array of indie albums I downloaded and listened to once so I could have an opinion about them, but I also spent a lot of time listening to stand-up cds; of the eight or so comedy albums that come out each year that don’t have “Blue” or “Collar” in the title, here are my five favorites from ’07:
5. Various - Comedy Death Ray
Basically the L.A. equivalent to 2005’s Invite Them Up cd, Comedy Death Ray is a two-disc set of over 150 minutes of standup. There aren’t a lot of bits or character pieces, but between David Cross ripping on his dog, Paul Tompkins’ Fabio story, Doug Benson’s ode to McGriddles, Andy Daly summing up all standup ever in four minutes, and a generous 14 minutes of Todd Glass, it’s pretty tough not to find something to like.
Favorite Line (that I’m now ruining by typing it here): “When I was growing up, to jerk off, you had to get a Sears catalogue and flip to the lingerie section. But nowadays, with the internet, you can just go right to Sears dot com.” – Dan Mintz
4. Steven Wright – I Still Have a Pony
The standup of Steven Wright sounds much more at home in today’s comedy culture than it did during the 80’s piano-key-tie boom; we’ve grown accustomed alternative one-liner comedians like Mitch Hedberg and Zach Galifianakis to the point where the idea of Wright releasing a new standup cd in 2007 (his first since 1985’s “I Have a Pony”) makes perfect sense. This cd has so many quirky, memorable lines, I kind of wish I was back in college so I could put up some sweet away messages and then get laid because of how awesome my away messages are.
Favorite Line: “Next week, I’m gonna have an MRI to find out whether or not I have claustrophobia.”
3. Michael Showalter – Sandwiches and Cats
Whether he’s being mistaken for Screech, screaming about “Akeelah and the Bee,” or ripping on the girl who brought two meowing cats to the show, Mike Showalter’s refined-awkward standup persona translates surprisingly well to audio form. The only reason I don’t have the album higher on this list is because it feels a little short; the adventure journalism songs are good for a change of pace, but I would’ve happily listened to Showalter talk about his high school literary magazine for another hour.
Favorite Line: “NO!!! ONNNLY AKEEEEEELAH AND THE BEE!!!”
2. Patton Oswalt – Werewolves and Lollipops
Kind of poetic that in the same year Patton Oswalt starred in one of the most enjoyable animated movies of all time, he also released a cd in which he wishes AIDS on Paris Hilton and punches up the Holocaust with some zinging one-liners. Oswalt’s main strength, though, other than his unselfconsciously nerdy aesthetic — the Sulu story is depressingly hilarious — is his ability to form English sentences that are so specific and creatively graphic, they can jar the ears of even the most jaded comedy hipster. And no, I’m not talking about myself — I still laugh at Bazooka Joe comics.
Favorite Line: On the new Star Wars movies, “Hey, do you like Angelina Jolie? Does she give you a big boner? Well here’s Jon Voight’s ballsack.”
1. Paul F. Tompkins – Impersonal
There isn’t a single wasted word or A-minus joke on this entire frickin’ cd; every time Paul Tompkins starts a bit (and the setups are even funny, somehow) you think to yourself, “hm, I wonder what he could say about this topic that would be funny,” followed by four or five jokes all in a row, usually ending up in Crazytown, e.g., talking about how his goat grandfather never raised a hoof to his wife. His bits on jazz, the Irish Potato Famine, and Migrant Worker Fantasy Camp are all priceless, but there isn’t a track on here that doesn’t still make me laugh out loud when I listen to it for the fifth time. Like the dialogue on “Yes, Dear”.
Favorite Line: The entire “Peanut Brittle” rant, which rendered me a laughing, attention-grabbing jackass the first time I listened to it on the subway.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Nick Swardson, Party (it’s like Dane Cook, but with jokes!); Michael Ian Black, I’m A Wonderful Man (is Ken Marino releasing a cd this year too?)