Stephen Colbert – I am America (and so can you).
I listened to the Daily Show audio book, whose name I forget and lazily won’t look up, and it wasn’t that great. So I was a little apprehensive over how this would take the Colbert onscreen character, turn it into print, and then turn it back into the onscreen character, except only in audio form. Plus I’d been spoilt by the audio version of John Hodgman’s The Areas of My Expertise, which is an awesome audio book (and also an awesome book – get both).
But this works well, it’s three and a half hours of the Colbert character ranting about the state of the world/being a self help book. The problem with the Daily Show book is Stewart works best when being incredulous rather than delivering a fake history of the United States, here you are getting exactly the same character you see on the Colbert Report. So if you like that show, you will like this.
This is a 2CD set of various stand up comedians who’ve appeared at the Comedy Death-Ray show run by Scott Aukerman and BJ Porter. There’s so much material and variety here that’s it’s a must have.
CD1 – this a bunch of longer pieces by 6 different acts
Paul F. Tompkins – My love of Tompkins has been stated before, and neatly this is material that doesn’t appear on his own CD. Great stuff.
David Cross – I find Cross to be a better comic actor than stand up, and, worse, this had a whole lot of stuff I’d heard before. In fact heard before years ago. Boo. There was some stuff that was new to me, but it didn’t set my world on fire.
Doug Benson – I liked Benson’s I Love Movies podcast that he did last year (and early this year), I’ve like what I’ve heard of his “Interruption” shows on AST’s podcast, and I like that he likes writing actual jokes. But this is the first time I’ve heard his stand up. And it’s OK. There’s some good jokes.
Maria Bamford – I’ve come round to Bamford a lot since I first saw her on Comedians of Comedy. I’ve not heard her 2 albums, so there may be a chance that there is repeated material here. Bamford has a good line in observational/character comedy, and she’s a great voice artist.
Todd Glass – Was just a name I’d heard until I heard this. I liked his routine here, though unfortunately some of it is visual. Which is hard to work on a CD.
Hard ‘N Phirm – Comedy Songs~! Puerile Jokes~! Puns~! I loved this.
CD2 - Twelve short pieces
Patton Oswalt – As good as the material is here, I heard it all on Oswalt’s own CD last month.
Jimmy Pardo – Despite having been listening to Pardo’s podcast Never Not Funny for the last year, I’d never heard his stand up. This is 10+ minutes of really great audience interaction. Enjoyed it a lot.
Neil Hamburger – A good intro to Hamburger, though I think he’s funnier in a hostile environment (see Hot February Night), the CD-R audience are too into the joke.
Ian Edwards – I’d not heard Edwards before, and I really liked his material here. Nice line in observation mutating into a flight of fantasy.
Brian Posehn – I’m a fan of Posehn, and it’s all new material to me. Hooray.
Nick Thune – More comedy songs, well guitar plus gags. Actual real life jokes. Insert Demetri Martin/Zach Galifianakis comparison here.
Scott Aukerman – Another case of me being a long term fan, never actually seeing any stand up. It’s fine, but there’s funnier folks on here.
Chris Hardwick – from the aforementioned Hard N Phirm. The thing that struck me was how much his delivery resembles Oswalts. Also – does anyone else find using AIDS, rape and retards as punchlines really hacky now? Hardwick uses one of these to end his segment and while the mechanics of the joke work, it seems an overused “taboo” reference.
Mindy Kaling - The reason I bring that up is because Mindy Kaling (Kelly Kapoor on The Office) has a really great bit that inverts the standard hacky retard reference that stand=ups use. Really great, probably my second favourite bit on the CDs.
Dan Mintz - is very deadpan. And tells jokes. And yet avoids sounding like a Steven Wright clone. Possibly because his form of deadpan is also endearingly amateur and nervous.
Andy Daly - provides the most genius 3 minutes of comedy I’ve heard in ages. To attempt to describe would defuse the wonder of it. All I’ll say it’s one idea sustained through the entire track, it blew my mind and that I’ve seen reviewers of this CD for whom the joke went completely over the heads of.
Reno 911 – And, I’m guessing to help promote the Reno 911 film, Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant perform a song about crystal meth. Despite my complete unfamiliarity with the characters they are playing it was still funny.
Michael Ian Black – I Am A Wonderful Man
Stella/State/Ed chap, Michael Ian Black, is probably better known as a comic actor rather than stand-up. Indeed I’d only seen him do stand up as part of Stella before this, and that was a very atypical stand-up. This is straight forward stand-up, and it works for the most part. The only thing that seems to fail is his occasional reliance on JUST SHOUTING THINGS. There’s some comics I like that veer into shouting, but they tend to make the things they are shouting funny, Black seems to just think shouting is funny.
As I came to this as a Stella fan, the stand up does give some insight of what ideas in Stella might be Black’s. For starters the first track is called “Yay!” and there’s a lot of that adult-man-behaving-as-teenage-girl thing going on that is Stella a lot. Definite listen for Stella and State fans I think, newcomers should probably track down the stronger Stella material first I think.