Published Dec 30, 2013There was lot to laugh about in 2013; it was a strong year for comedy records. Here are five releases guaranteed to tickle your funny bone — if you're into that sort of thing.
Find more Year-End coverage in our 2013 in Lists section.
Top 5 Comedy Albums:
5. Kumail Nanjiani
Nanjiani grew up in Pakistan and has lived in the United States since going to college there in the late '90s. He admits that his outlook and attitude about the world changed a lot as he assimilated, but when he tells his thoughtful stories about his upbringing (whether it's attending super weird kids' birthday parties or hiding porn from his parents), they're disarmingly relatable and hilarious. It's by no means his motivation, but Nanjiani's stand-up on his first special is this sly, sharp discursive analysis of how small the world really is, and it's often really brilliant.
4. Pete Holmes
Nice Try, The Devil
There's a strong argument that Holmes got himself a talk show this year based on his Vines but really it all stems from his having one of the jolliest and most absurd stand-up minds around. Holmes is a gleeful force—the rare comic who derives complete and utter joy in the failings of the world around him. Everything is just so silly to Holmes that he can't help but laugh in life's face. And he's right: when your mom claims to be a huge Celine Dion fan but pronounces her name "Salon Dijon," that is truly a comedy gift worth celebrating.
3. Heidecker and Wood
Some Things Never Stay the Same
The sincerity of this record might throw some fans, but peeling through the layers of 1970s sounds and lyrical tropes reveals some hilarious work by Tim Heidecker. He and Davin Wood are skilled musicians, and here they delve into the biting, rebellious aesthetic of Warren Zevon, Harry Nilsson and Randy Newman for inspiration. The results include some catchy songs and interpretations of what it must've been like when air travel and doing cocaine first made the world a smaller, more fucked up place. The jokes are subtle and specific but they reveal themselves with each listen, which is nice because these are timeless songs.
2. Anthony Jeselnik
Accurately described as the "Patrick Bateman of stand-up," Jeselnik is an ice-cold joke-making machine. His persona is callous and douche-y and he offends everyone he possibly can. The marvel here is that, while neurotic, confessional storytelling continues to resonate with audiences, Jeselnik is a throwback — a performer who keeps his audience at arm's length from his emotions, instead pummeling them like a set-up/punchline master. Sometimes he's blunt, often he guts you like a ninja, but his jokes are always killers.
1. Maria Bamford
Ask Me About My New God!
"Schizophrenia is hearing voices, not doing voices," Bamford clarifies, telling an anecdote about how her sanity has been questioned by family and friends. Bamford's rich command of myriad characters to accentuate her brilliant comedy makes her act dizzying and theatrical, but it also feels incredibly direct and genuine. One of the smartest comedians working today, Bamford is at her peak on this record that's a radical must-have.