I fight online about comedy. If you asked me to describe what I do, it would not be dishonest to say, “I fight online about comedy… and the month of December is my Christmas… because it’s Christmas and also because seemingly daily, a new list of the Best Comedy of 2014 or 2014’s Best Comedians or 2014’s Best Comedian Comedy of 2014 get released which means more fighting.” After the second day of fighting about arbitrary rankings and meaningless clickbait, I was approached by the master of UnScene Comedy to put together my own arbitrary ranking and create my own meaningless clickbait.
Which I did.
So a caveat before we get to the list. This is a compiling of my favorite comedy albums released between January 1, 2014 and December 10, 2014 (sorry, whoever releases an albums between December 10, 2014 and December 31, 2014. You don’t exist as far as I’m concerned.) I only provide this caveat because I’m purposely choosing to only include comedy albums which means sorry Dave Attell’s Road Work, Bill Burr’s I’m Sorry You Feel That Way, Jerrod Carmichael’s Love at the Store, Jim Jeffries’ Bare, or Chelsea Perretti’s One of the Greats. I have two toddlers that only want to watch Thomas the Tank Engine and Frozen. It’s easier for me to put on a pair of headphones and listen than it is to watch those specials in 5 minute chunks while diapers are being changed. As soon as two of those get released as audio, I may have to update but for now, they’re sadly being excluded.
So this is my list of My Top 10 Favorite Comedy Albums of the Year 2014 along with 10 Honorable Mentions because there were over 120 comedy albums released in 2014 (I counted) and I would like to give credit to the best but I got tired of trying to rank things. So here we go 10 Honorable Mentions and then the 10 Best according to me, a person who listened to at least 65 of the 120+ albums released this year.
Honorable Mentions (in no particular order)
Sean O’Connor, James Dean Type – a really funny debut from a young comedian who is only going to get better as he moves away from stories about Kesha concerts and more towards the unbelievable final track about getting suspended from school for taking pictures with his friends.
Bob Odenkirk, Amateur Hour – Full disclosure, Bob Odenkirk is one of my top comedy heroes along with Don Rickles and Conan O’Brien. I’m going to be completely biased for everything he does including the films Let’s Go to Prison and the Brothers Solomon which everyone hates except me. This album would be in my top 10 but for some reason that is never really explained, the album opens with 15 minutes from a comedian who is not Bob Odenkirk doing average comedy. I thought maybe it would pay off later in some kind of brilliant meta comedy but it didn’t. It’s literally just a nobody doing average comedy.
Jared Logan, My Brave Battle – Another really funny debut album that just missed the cut for my top 10. It’s a really funny album and I really liked it. I just liked 10 other albums ahead of it but want to encourage you all to check it out. That’s all I’ve got on this one.
Bengt Washburn, Bengt Over in Europe – Bengt is an American who lives in Germany and that’s really all you need to know to enjoy his comedy. This is a record of a unique guy’s observations of living abroad and well worth a listen.
Sinbad, Make Me Wanna Holla – In 2014, there is absolutely no reason to have to defend Sinbad anymore. It’s not worth it. Whenever I say, “the new Sinbad special was great” and someone says, “Sinbad? No thanks,” it’s just easier to never talk to that person again than have to try and explain that he’s always been great. Listen to the track “Kids & Women” and if you’re not convinced, it’s ok. I already have plenty of friends.
Whitney Cummings, I Love You – I’ve not been a big fan of Whitney Cummings in the past but this album was a lot better than I expected. This is her first special since tasting real success and real failure and it’s a lot more mature than her previous stuff. Still slightly too impersonal for my likings but it’s a huge step in the right direction.
Chris Laker, Moments of Greatness – I’d never heard of Chris Laker before but this is a solid album. Its intimate and perhaps a little too honest but it’s got that grime that sometimes comedy needs.
Joe Mande, Bitchface – Presented as a hip hop mixtape, this is one of the more unique comedy releases of 2014. The jokes are good but the whole production is what makes it stand out.
Chris Gethard My Comedy Album – Too one man showy to be a super successful stand-up comedy album and too disjointed to be a super successful one man show, I look at this record as more a sign of great things to come.
Big Jay Oakerson, The Crowd Work Sessions: What’s Your Fucking Deal? Calling this an album of crowd work is unfair because the idea of crowd work has been so watered down. This is an album of improv and riffing from a comic I’m just warming up to moving from topic to topic with no real plan.
So those were my Honorable Mentions (how fucking long is this article?)
And now the Top 10! (in painstakingly considered order)
10. Jasper Redd, Jazz Talk
“I think that the success of his presidential term depends on in the future if America will someday vote for a whole one.”
There is something about Jasper Redd’s cadence that kills me. Really. That’s the biggest reason that I’ve included this album on this list. When Jasper Redd speaks, I laugh. It’s that simple. I wish it was more complicated. Jasper says funny things in a funny way. He takes his time but there are never any lulls. His rhythms keep you off-kilter but he always has control. If you haven’t checked out his stuff, this is a pretty good place to start.
Andi Smith, Bronze Digger
“That doctor better watch his fucking mouth.”
This one was a real surprise. I’m not entirely sure why I even listened to it but I’m glad I did. This is an album about a stand-up comedian returning to work after having a baby and as a stand-up comedian returning to work after having two babies, maybe it spoke to me a little more than it would most. I don’t know. She recorded this album when her daughter was a year and a half and I happened to listen to it right as my babies turned a year and a half. All that aside, I feel confident in saying that if I could discount my parallel experiences, this is still a great album.
Andy Sandford, Me the Whole Time
“If you have never listened to baseball on the radio, then you have never been bored in the 1920s.”
I like jokes and this is an album of tight jokes. It’s not the tightest album on this list but there are very few wasted moments. I had never heard of Andy Sandford before listening to this album but I’m glad that I listened to this. It really is impressive how tight these jokes are. A really strong debut from a comic that I hope will continue to get more exposure. It’ll be interesting to revisit this album in 10 years because in 2014 Andy is talking about his life when he’s broke and struggling. If he succeeds like I hope he will, this will be a real interesting document of his beginnings.
Nore Davis, Home Game
“Sprinkles, man. I love Sprinkles.”
2014 was the breakout year of the young black phenom comic. Michael Che, Jermaine Fowler, Monroe Martin, Jerrod Carmichael, Damien Lemon… it seemed like this was time in a while that dumb, white comedy intellectuals like myself couldn’t fall back on “he’s the next Dave Chappelle” or “he’s the heir apparent to Patrice O’Neal” because there were too many choices. Don’t overlook Nore Davis. His debut album only come out at the end of November but it’s really funny. The heart of the album is a run of jokes about his sister’s coming out as a lesbian and subsequent identification as transgendered. To tackle such a potentially sensitive subject with as much nuance as Nore does, is truly impressive.
Mike Vecchione, Muscle Confusion
“Say what you will about frozen sperm but it really changes the tone of a snowball fight.”
I’m actually surprised it’s taken this long for Mike Vecchione to put out an album. I first heard him during the 2010 season of Last Comic Standing and thought he was solid. He’s had a half hour special on Comedy Central which I thought was solid. I’ve seen him a couple more times on tv and it’s been solid He’s always been solid but hearing him long form on this album really showcases just how gifted he really is. He leaves no meat on any bone. This is an album of tight jokes getting tagged with even tighter jokes. This is meat and potatoes stand-up comedy. Vecchione is not the flashiest comedian but that’s ok. He lets his jokes do the heavy lifting.
Chad Daniels, Natural Selection
“I just made adults clap at the thought of dumb kids dying. Do you understand how important I feel right now?”
Chad Daniels has the incredible ability to say whatever he wants, no matter how dark, without turning a single audience member. This is his third cd and like his first two, he explores being a dad and a husband. Whether he’s walking his wife through his son’s puberty or his high school football coach’s funeral, Daniels pulls no punches. Nothing is off limits. He never stoops to Anthony Jeselnik shock for shock’s sake. This is just a guy who processes the world through his sense of humor and shares it. Chad Daniels continues to be one of my favorite working comedians. He is pure stand-up comedy and continues to get better.
Nick Vatterot, For Amusement Only
“Nobody is named Darklar.”
This album is supremely stupid. I mean that in the best way and I don’t think Nick Vatterot would take any offense to that at all. This might be the most fun album I listened to all year and that all starts with Vatterot himself. His enthusiasm for his own brand of silliness is infectious. This is an album that’s really about stand-up comedy and taking the cliché conventions of the form and filtering it through a human cartoon. I’m usually a little more critical of comedy about comedy but this is so brilliantly dumb and goofy that it’s not so much a commentary as a celebration. Just fucking listen to it, ok?
Jim Gaffigan, Obsessed
“Don’t you die! In 18 years there’s an awkward party you have to pay for!”
Save it. Jim Gaffigan is going to talk about food and then a bunch of other stuff. But he’s going to talk about food. Set your watch. In a year or two, a new hour of food jokes is going to show up and it’ll probably be as good as this hour of food jokes. Jim Gaffigan is as consistent as comedy gets. There’s really not much more to say. If you haven’t already heard this, you should. If you’re going to complain about more great food jokes and overlook all the other non-food material, you’re wrong.
Tommy Johnagin, Stand Up Comedy 3
“If something happened to my baby I think I would just check out. I don’t want to be a part of that world. If something happened to my girlfriend, you know, things happen to people. Its onward and upward.”
The first joke on this album starts at the 1:10 mark with “I had to explain itunes to my mom” and then Johnagin pummels the audience with jokes and tags and doesn’t let them catch their breath for four straight minutes. He’s been onstage for 30 seconds and he has destroyed the room. That is authority. Tommy Johnagin has been one of my favorite comics of the last couple years and this is the best he’s ever been. The first album since becoming a father, this material is the most successful at defining Tommy Johnagin. It’s no surprise that shortly after this album was released, CBS announced that they’d ordered a sitcom pilot based on his life. I just hope that inevitable sitcom fame doesn’t limit his ability to tour and develop more stand-up because I am really excited to see where he goes next.
Kurt Metzger, White Precious