Andy Kindler’s «I Wish I Was Bitter»

First thing’s first: The “new” release from Andy Kindler, “I Wish I Was Bitter” (Yes, he’s well aware that title isn’t grammatically correct, but he’s edgy like that) was originally recorded back in 2003 and has only just recently been made available to download for the first time. Aside from the occasional references to “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” (Wow, I totally forgot about that show) and “Whoopi” (Yep. Forgot about that one, too), the disc holds up pretty well. Then again, bitterness never really goes out of fashion.
If you take a bucket of that bitterness, season it with a generous helping of jealousy, remove any inkling of self-confidence or bridge-burning self-awareness, coupled with a heaping spoonful of malice toward TV executives, then you’ve just got an angry guy who never made it as big as he thought he would. Or should. But you add in a witty sense of biting humor that holds no punches and keeps the audience on its toes, then my friend you have Andy Kindler.
Kindler never made it big as a comic (at least not as of this taping) and he has some strong words for those who did. Carrot Top, Margaret Cho, Lorne Michaels, Dennis Miller, the cast of The George Lopez Show, Wayne Brady, and Jim Belushi (Oh, that Jim Belushi) all find themselves in Kindler’s crosshairs. As he struggles to comprehend what these people have that he doesn’t, Kindler lashes out at them and doesn’t hold back. Poor Belushi finds himself getting the brunt of Kindler’s ire, especially when we try to break down his TV deal using the five Ws (and one H) of investigative journalism. You almost feel bad for the guy and maybe you would if you weren’t so busy laughing at Kindler’s exasperated furor.
People who live outside the entertainment world may find that this CD has a tendency to fly over their heads from time to time. Kindler jokes that he isn’t a comedian for a mainstream audience and he has a point. I don’t know how many people without a foot in the industry will connect with his jokes about pilot season and collecting residuals, but for those of us who’ve dabbled in – and around – the entertainment world (or maybe just watch shows like EpisodesLouie, or Maron), then there are a lot of wink-winks and nudge-nudges to enjoy here. 
When Kindler strays from his insider material, the laughs come just as strong. I loved his cell phone being set to “samba,” his impressions of the Frankenstein monster performing hacky comedy and morning zoo radio, and most of all his dissection of the old Supermantelevision show and the voiceover announcer who clearly wasn’t pleased with his career path. It’s a brilliant bit that Kindler may or may not be happy knowing would appeal to a wide audience.
One of the fun things about listening to an album in 2014 that was recorded in 2003 is having the gift of hindsight. It’s entertaining hearing Kindler rail on “Last Comic Standing” knowing that seven years later he would be on the show as a judge (but, in fairness, the show had morphed into a completely different concept by that time. Less reality show and more comedian-y). Yes, more than a few bits here are directed at industry movers and shakers, telling them why they should hire him (and also pointing out when they shouldn’t) but – as time eventually went on to prove – it worked. Kindler calls “Last Comic Standing” the worst thing that could ever possibly happen to comedians and seven years later, he’s a judge on the show. It’s a tactic I never would have thought of, but apparently it works. 
Hey, Spielberg. Guess what? You suck donkey.
Now all I have to do is wait until 2021 and I’ll be golden. Indiana Jones Part 6 here I come!

Mark Normand’s «Still Got It»

If the goal of comedy done well is to look at life through a slightly skewed lens, then Mark Normand deserves a blue ribbon. On his debut CD, “Still Got It,” Normand excels at looking at the picture of life as we know it and nudging it a bit until it’s a few degrees off of plumb. He wonders if the Bible would be nearly as effective if the names within were modern (Encouraging people to drink the blood of Trevor just sounds weird). He genuinely feels bad for animals with jobs (The poor seeing eye dog must hate seeing the other dogs in the park jumping, running, and having their bellies rubbed). He sees the names of Chinese restaurants not as a list of options but instead examples of racial slurs worse than anything white people have come up with. 
These are things the rest of us see every day but for one reason or another, we’ve never picked up on the funny staring us in the face. Fortunately there are people like Normand out there ready and willing to point it out to us. Normand is our in-person, 3-D “Wet Floor” sign.

Occasionally Normand treads the same ground as other comedians before him (Answering the dreaded “How hot am I?” question, growing up white in a black neighborhood, the women-as-sluts conundrum), but you can’t hold that against him. We’re all pulling from the same life experiences and Normand brings his own off-kilter outlook to each of the aforementioned scenarios. As a result they play as fresh, new, and yes, funny. A couple of premises sound a bit corny at first (Was the guy who invented the SNOOZE button late to the pitch meeting?) but Normand knows it and plays it up with an impish grin that comes across even on an audio-only format.

It’s Normand’s original perspective on life and brilliant metaphors that breathe fresh air into his bits. When asked how he wold respond if his child turns out to be gay, he compares it to finding a French fry in your order of onion rings (“It’s not what I expected, but I like these, too”). He wishes birth control were as simple as hangover control and when he likens promiscuous girls to Wal-Mart, he nails it with the precision of a master builder.

Normand is easy-going and likable, which is why he can get away with pushing the envelope. His interactions with the crowd are always hilarious and whenever he poses a question to the audience, he always has the perfect reaction to their answers.

For only being 45 minutes long, Normand packs a lot into this CD. His remarks on the state of present-day manliness (Everyone has a beard and no one knows how to change a tire)and his reaction to a friend’s homophobia (Go ahead. Shake their hand) are brilliant. His analysis of women (They have three moods: Mad. Happy. Not Mad.) and his glass half-full reaction to their monthly cycle (Come on, guys. You should really be happy it’s here) are just more examples of the many good things we can expect from Normand in the years to come.

Before this album I was unfamiliar with Normand but I have to agree. This guy’s still got it.

Sinbad’s «Make Me Wanna Holla»

A couple of days ago I was talking with my friend Gabe on the phone and excitedly told him I had just received my preview copy of the new Sinbad album for review. “Really?” he asked, with the flat tone of a guy who isn’t impressed.
“Yeah!” I said excitedly, visions of past Sinbad albums dancing in my head. I’m well-aware that Sinbad has become a punchline of sorts in the comedy world, mostly I assume because of the outfits he wore in past specials that seemed to be constructed of multi-colored Hefty bags. Although his wardrobe has become dated, I know a lot of people who look back on those past recordings fondly, reminiscing about how much they made them laugh. They made me laugh, too, and as a result I was looking forward to this new release. 
“Sinbad?” Gabe asked and then added, “That can’t be good.”
I was genuinely surprised. “What? Why not? I’m excited!”
“Really?” Gabe muttered, “You think? It’s been too long.”
“But he was so funny,” I countered, “There’s no way he all of a sudden can’t be funny.”
“I don’t know, man, I don’t see how it can be any good.”
I could hear in Gabe’s voice that he felt bad for me. He was convinced this new project, “Make Me Wanna Holla,» was going to disappoint and his heart went out to the poor boy with too much optimism. 
The good news is, it’s not the train wreck Gabe thought it would be. The bad news is….it ain’t Brain Damaged, either.
I remember Sinbad as a happy-go-lucky guy who paced the stage with a smile and a magnetic sense of joy. He still has that in a sense, but this is an older version of Sinbad and he doesn’t wear cranky cynicism well. When he touches on childhood, kindergarten, and banters back and forth with the 15-year old boy in the audience, the spark is still there. When he takes on politics and the economic system of Detroit, he swaps funny for angry, and it just feels….off. 
Bill Cosby has grown disgruntled with age but has figured out how to work that into his persona. David Letterman has morphed into an old grump but he doesn’t care and it somehow adds to his edge. Sinbad as an angry older guy just…sounds like an angry older guy.
Sinbad tries to capture the energy of his younger days but his heart doesn’t seem to be in it. And hearing Sinbad scream the “n” word just doesn’t sit right. I’m not opposed to someone morphing from who they used to be, but this change doesn’t feel sincere. This is 6’5” Sinbad trying desperately to stay relevant and squeeze himself into a suit tailored to 5’2” Kevin Hart. Please, Sinbad, go back to the clothes you’re comfortable in. They may be out style, but they brought out the best in you. 
There are a few bonus tracks that only add to the confusion. Without warning, a band and choir appear from nowhere and suddenly we’re in church. It’s not just a left turn, but a hardleft turn that comes out of nowhere. One minute Sinbad is ruminating on white people being lost in a bad black neighborhood and the next we’re singing along to the Rich Mullins song, “Awesome God.” The CD ends with what is basically a mini-revival tent service, complete with a revival tent Baptist comedian. It’s a gesture I appreciated but it really felt out of place on a comedy album. 

This wasn’t the grand slam I hoped it would be but I haven’t lost faith in you, Sinbad. I’ll keep believing in you. But, please….please…prove my friend Gabe wrong the next time around.

Jim Gaffigan’s «Obsessed»

“All he talks about is food.”
That’s a direct quote from a friend. She had asked me to suggest a few comedians to her and, after inquiring what she thought about the CD I recommended, that was the reason I was given for her not approving.
“All he talks about is food.”
My friend has no idea how badly I wanted to throw a hammer at her head. 
Yes, Jim Gaffigan talks about food a lot, both in the past and on his new album, “Obsessed.” He’s also funny as hell when he does it. As far as I’m concerned, if you make me laugh as hard – and as consistently – as Gaffigan does, you can talk about whatever you want. You can talk about a crack in the ground for four hours straight, if what you’re saying is funny, who cares? If you make me laugh, full-on belly laugh, how can I complain? George Carlin talked a lot about wordplay, Lewis Black talks a lot about politics, and Chris Rock talks a lot about race; they all have their “thing” but that doesn’t make them un-funny for returning to subjects that really click with them. “All he talks about is food” is an observation, not a reason that someone is or isn’t funny.
OK, Ed….breathe…
As you can probably tell from my mini-rant (And the way I reacted as if Gaffigan is a close personal friend of mine), I loved this new album and if ever you’ve laughed at anything Gaffigan has said or done, you’re in for another hour of classic Gaffigonian humor.
The reason, of course, that Gaffigan’s foodie humor works so well is because it’s true. Kobe beef and it’s oddball ritual of getting a cow drunk before giving it a massage is questionable. Chicken and waffles is pretty much gluttony at its apex (the same goes for biscuits and gravy) and we really are eating bugs of the sea – and charging a lot of money to do so.
Of course, just like every other Gaffigan project, he doesn’t talk only about food (it just seems that way because a lot of his food-related material has really taken hold and skyrocketed) and his bits on his family (you don’t have to tell him five kids is a lot) and Mt. Rushmore(yes, it’s still a “thing”) are just as solid. 
Gaffigan has always had a knack for pointing out the absurdity in everyday conventions the rest of us have accepted without question. Like he did in the past with holidays, this time around he puts the marriage ceremony ritual under the microscope, pointing out one incredible “what the heck” detail after another.
As a testament to Gaffigan’s comedy he has a bit on Cancer that is flat-out hilarious. I know how that sounds, but don’t let it put you off. How you make cancer funny without it ever being in poor taste or controversial is beyond me, but obviously he figured out how to do it.
Yes, Jim Gaffigan talks a lot about food. And yes, I laughed. A lot. So what’s the problem?

Jasper Redd’s «Jazz Talk»

I know you can’t/shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but in the case of Jasper Redd’s new project, “Jazz Talk,” you can. First of all, kudos to the CD’s production team for one of my favorite art designs in recent history. Capturing the cool hep-ness of classic album jacket sleeves, the blue tones and classic fonts over a worn cross-hatch pattern create a picture I wouldn’t hesitate to frame and hang in my home. In fact, “cool” is the key word here and the comedy that lies therein is exactly what the packaging promises.
Redd is smooth, laid-back, and – yes – cool. His style hearkens that of a beat poet from the early 60’s (without actually doing beat poetry) and the listener is instantly transported to a time when comedians didn’t have to shout or shock to be funny. Redd  brings laughter on his own relaxed terms. 
Early on in his set, Redd explains he doesn’t do material on relationships or politics but instead chooses to tackle important topics like dogs who rat out others, inane sports rules, and McDonaldland’s Grimace. As he circles these subjects – and many more – he shows just how funny someone can be without having to scream every observation. He slays us with calm razor-sharp insights that slice deep and make us wonder just what in the world the Whopper has been up to behind the counter.
One thing I love about Redd’s onstage presence is the way he almost gets things right. This is a character trying to sound educated and informed (proudly opting for words like “establishment” instead of “store”) and would pull it off if it weren’t for the random mispronunciation or use of a non-existent word that completely blows his cover (such as  the Spanish word “inappropriante”). It’s a small detail that, in someone else’s hands, could have been overplayed. It’s easy to point a neon arrow at yourself and say, “Look how silly I am!” but Redd – you guessed it – plays it cool. He doesn’t draw attention to what he’s doing and as a result it’s even funnier when he does it.
Redd closes his set backed by a live jazz band, swapping out his longer bits for one-liners and short quips. They’re fun, but I prefer him as a storyteller. I loved hearing him explain how, although he avoids anything to do with slavery, there is a time to be pro-white. His uninsured “in case of emergency” contingency plan is all-too familiar and you’ll love hearing the genesis behind the reason why he’s still not sure if he sold his father some marijuana. He invites you to keep your third eye open as he explains the real symbolism behind the penny and as a cinephile, I may never look at the DVD Director’s Commentary bonus features the same way again.
You will enjoy spending an hour with Redd. He’s a welcome change of pace from what you may be used to getting from a stand-up comedian and the laughs to be found here are real, genuine, constant and – yep – cool.

Cy Amundson’s «Lovesick in Toledo»

I lived in Chicago for a brief time and while I was there, I was dirt poor. Naturally, this led me to seek out bargains (thanks, Craigslist!) and some of the bargains I found were sneak previews of movies (thanks, Hollywood!). For those who aren’t fortunate enough to live in a metropolitan city where this happens on a regular basis, movie studios have free – free! – screenings of movies to gauge audience reactions, see what works, or maybe just get a little bit of buzz going. And so one July evening I found myself in a packed movie theater to watch a free screening of a movie most people weren’t familiar with at the time: Wedding Crashers.
There are few sounds like a packed theater full of people not just laughing, but stupid laughing. I attended the event alone but for a short time all of us there were connected. It was an incredible evening and I found myself telling everyone I knew about “this hilarious movie I just saw.” I told friends, family, and even a handful of strangers while I was waiting in line at the Farmer’s Market. I couldn’t help myself. People needed to know how funny this movie was.
I had a similar reaction after listening to Cy Amundson’s “Lovesick in Toledo.” I finished listening to 50 of the funniest minutes I’d heard in a long while and my immediate thought was, “I can’t wait to tell people about this one.” So maybe I should stop yammering about Wedding Crashers and get to it.
From the very first joke on the very first track, Amundson sets the tone for what’s to come: Things are going to be a little bit wrong (how baby-sitting his niece accidentally caused him to be creepy) but a lot of bit hilarious (he could say something to make it a lot worse for those around him)
Amundson seems to magnetically attract awkward situations which, of course, only makes things better for us. You’ll find yourself laughing through teeth that are clenched empathetically as he recounts the time he scalded his junk with hot tea and wondering how things could possible get worse as he tries to ease the tension in the room with a silly joke told to the wrong person.
‘Lovesick in Toledo” is one of those rare CDs that comes along every once in a while where every track is my favorite. Amundson’s theory about the mysterious attraction white trash people have for Looney Tunes characters couldn’t be more accurate and his younger brother being chosen as the Golden Child has prompted the writing of a most imaginative will with very specific parameters.
This wouldn’t be the first time Amundson has toyed around with official, supposed-to-be serious documentation. Take for example the time he pranked his nephew by taking it upon himself to rewrite his entrance application letter to Northwestern University. Amundson knows his way around a prank and just the fact that he knows taxidermist’s have a “throwaway pile” should be reason enough to make anyone think twice about getting on his bad side.
When his friend Zach declares he and his girlfriend are trying to have a baby, Amundson has just cause to be a little hesitant with his support (especially considering the couple’s recent track record with kittens). It sparks one of my favorite bits on the album, second only to Amundson’s riotous impression of every 4th-grade girls basketball game ever. It had me in tears each time I listened.
The track that inspires the album title is Amundson’s love letter to Toledo (and by “love letter” I mean “a series of reasons to never visit Toledo»). My dad is a boxing coach and when I was growing up in Indiana we would take frequent trips to boxing tournaments to the Ohio city, so I can vouch for all Amundson has to say. It’s very possible we ate at the same Waffle House and experienced the same cheery customer service. My favorite line in the bit comes when Amundson mentions how each state has a “state bird” and suggests one for Toledo if cities did the same thing: “A raccoon with ringworm all over its face.”
This project made me laugh and it made me laugh a lot. Just like the time I was in Chicago, I want everyone to laugh like I did. I want everyone to experience the same thing I did and for 50 minutes forget about everything around them and just laugh. Forget about what happened at work this week or what needs to happen at home and instead just focus on camouflage lingerie and the portion size of greasy spoon hash browns. Let go and let yourself get a little “Lovesick.”

Iliza Shlesinger’s «War Paint»

A couple of months ago I placed Iliza Shlesinger’s “War Paint” on my “Best of 2013” list and, after listening to it again on repeat over the last few days, I am happy to report I have absolutely zero buyer’s remorse. It’s a fun album with over an hour’s worth of solid bit after solid bit and definitely one of the strongest projects I’ve heard in recent history.
I like Shlesinger because she goes all-out, all of the time. She commits every bit of her energy into getting the laugh and does whatever it takes to hammer her point home. Sometimes that means she has to change her voice, her expression, or her body language (Be sure to spring for the CD/DVD combo to get the most bang), and sometimes she goes even further. Noises explode from Shlesinger’s mouth at rapid-fire pace, sometimes before you even realize where they came form. The bleat of a sheep is a great tool in her comedy kit, serving as a hilariously biting commentary on women blindly following the herd. 
And sometimes the only punctuation she needs is a swift, rapid-fire side kick in the air. 
Regardless of the tactic she takes to bring us to the funny, it’s always successful, and not knowing which route she’s going to take (sometimes it’s a combination of some or all of the above) is part of the fun.
Shlesinger dives in with an impressive rat-a-tat plane-boarding spiel that would make the Micro Machines announcer envious and never once lets up for the next 75 minutes. Her bits aren’t “bits” as much as they are “generous helpings” of comedy, each one pulled, stretched, and explored until every last laugh is wrung out of it. P90X, girls trying to find their way home (baaaaa), and her dream of being a pharmacist may have been one or two-line throwaways in the hands of another comedian, but Shlesinger really does her work and finds every possible laugh there may be lurking inside.
We’ve all heard male comics complain about females and we’ve also heard the reverse. Shlesinger turns that approach on its ear and turns traitor, ratting out every woman in the theater as she reveals their secrets, habits, flaws, and forbidden fantasies about marrying their cat. No matter how funny a guy may be talking about women, it’s nothing compared to the intel Shlesinger brings to the table. She’s been behind enemy lines and knows the Apocalypse Now appearance of a late-night ladies’ room.
I’ve heard the CD. I’ve watched the DVD. I was even fortunate enough to catch Shlesinger live headlining at the Gotham Comedy Club in New York last year. The fact of the matter is, despite the format, Shlesinger is throwing down some serious comedy. Put on your war paint and join the fight.

Top 10 Comedy Albums of 2013

How was your 2013? If you’re a fan of comedy – good comedy – then it was a great year. As always, I really struggled to narrow my list down to ten and was this close to going with 12 or 13 and calling it the “best of” instead of the “Top 10.”
But, upon fresh listenings, I was able to finally come up with a list I’m pretty happy with (Sorry, Louis CK and Pete Holmes. You have no idea how hard it was for me to cut you, but something tells me you’ll be OK). Although these CDs are listed in a 1-through-10 format (or, actually, a countdown of 10-through-1), you could probably take the list, jumble it up, and I wouldn’t argue with the new order. 
So, here they are. The albums from 2013 that made me laugh, think, and laugh again the most. Enjoy! Feel free to leave your favorites in the comments below. 

10. Dylan Brody’s “Writ Large”

Dylan Brody uses words like Charlie Parker used his sax. He’s not telling stories, he’s making music. “Writ Large” isn’t just a CD, it’s an experience. When the final track has played out and you’re left with just yourself and Brody’s tales still dancing in your head like the lingerings of a melodious hook, it’s not unlike what you feel after witnessing a really good live jazz set. You can’t quite put it into words, but you know you’re glad to have been there to feel it.

9. Steve Gillespie’s “Stever Fever”

Hi. My name’s Steve Gillespie. How are you? I’m just gonna put this right here. What is it? Oh, not much. Just an incredible debut CD. That’s right. I’m just gonna make my introduction to you one of the most incredibly funny CDs you’ve heard in a long time. Is that all right? You don’t mind that my very first CD blows everything else out of the water? Cool. (Sorry. It’s the “Stever Fever”talking).

8. Iliza Shlesinger’s “War Paint”

I don’t know how to spell the noise Iliza Shlesinger uses when she’s poking fun at women who, like sheep, blindly fall into the female stereotype of ditzy OMG-ness. It’s kind of an “eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh.” Picture a lamb having a fit and you’re sort of there. Either way, Shlesinger is not about to be lumped in with the rest of the flock and as she puts on her “War Paint,” you’ll find she’s more of a big bad wolf who doesn’t intend to take any prisoners. Eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh. (Translation: Love it)

7. Geoff Tate’s “I Got Potential”

Geoff Tate not only has one of the best albums of the year, but dare I say one of the single best tracks, too. His bit on Domino’s pizza is incredible and never lets up. There are more laughs packed into this 10-minute segment than some comedians get in a career. What’s even better is the rest of the album is just as good. “I Got Potential?” Understatement of the year, man.

6. Paul Hooper’s “Tense & Uncomfortable”“Tense & Uncomfortable.”

Yep. That pretty much sums it up, but in a good way. Paul Hooper is a comedian in 3-D, coming straight at you with comedy that doesn’t apologize for it’s directness (nor should it). There’s no time for political correctness or taking one’s prescribed medication when there’s funny to be made. Once the Hooper train leaves the station there’s no jumping off but when you’re having this much fun, why would you want to?

5. Tracey Ashley’s “Two First Names”

Yes, Tracey Ashley has “Two First Names” and with an album as funny as this one, they’re two names you won’t soon be forgetting. While some comedians have a style or approach that may only appeal to a certain demographic or mindset, as long as you like to laugh, Ashley is the comic for you. With an upbeat energy (it’s obvious she’s having a good time) and playful bite, Ashley’s album stays consistently funny from beginning to end.

4. Roy Wood Jr.’s “Things I Think, I Think”

I heard this album and immediately hopped online and bought it for a friend. If that’s not the sign of a good CD, I don’t know what is. I’m usually pretty self-conscious and won’t sing in the car if I know the person next to me is looking. I listened to “Things I Think, I Think” while walking downtown to my local coffee shop and was too busy laughing to care about who might have seen me. Sign #2 that Roy Wood, Jr is funny and that’s a thing I know, I know.

3. Tom Shillue’s “12 in 12” Series

Twelve albums in twelve months. At the end of last year that’s what Tom Shillue announced he was doing (and did). An album a month for an entire year. Upon hearing such a notion, one might think “Oh, this’ll start off strong and then peter out” or “So, a bunch of so-so material?” or “Impossible.” Nope. Yes, Shillue started off strong but then CDs just got better and better. And better. 12 in 12? And a good 12 in 12? Take a nap, Tom. You’ve earned it. (But then come back. I miss your stories already.)

2. Joe DeRosa’s “You Will Die”

Yes, Joe DeRosa is right. “You Will Die.” Laughing. Definitely one of my favorite projects of the year for two reasons: Disc 1 and Disc 2. The first of this double-disc project is an incredible set that is classic DeRosa humor (meaning it cracked me up). The second is a peek into what happens when nothing goes right on stage. And basically what happens is, when DeRosa is frustrated he’s still one of the funniest comedians working today.

1. Bill Cosby’s “…Far From Finished”

Remember how I said earlier the sign of a good project is that I went out and bought it for a friend? Well, I bought this for at least threepeople and recommended it to countless others. I mean, come on, it’s The Cos, and he’s still The Cos. Whether you listen to the audio version (over 2 hours) or watch the DVD/Blu-Ray, there’s no question that not only is “…Far From Finished” number one on this particular list but Bill Cosby is just number one, period.

Last-Minute Recommendations

In case you haven’t noticed (and if you haven’t, you haven’t?), the number of reviews I’ve cranked out has trickled off the second half of this year. It’s not for any specific reason and definitely not for lack of material, but sometimes there’s just more going on than I can tackle at once. 
True, I could have written shorter reviews (I usually try to listen to each album at least three times and hit at least a 500-word count in each post), but I didn’t want to shortchange any of the comedians. It wouldn’t have been fair to them to not give them the attention they deserved.
But is giving them no attention fair? 
Good question.
That being said, I will get to them. Until I do, though, I wanted to give you a quick list of those comedians whose official reviews I haven’t yet written but their names need to be known. Some of them will appear on my Best of 2013 list and some won’t, but they all deserve a place on your hard drive. Swing by the Comedy Reviews store and pick ’em up.
Here they are, in alphabetical order. I haven’t been able to write about them yet, but – spoiler alert – I’ll have nothing but good things to say when I do. 

  • «Beer Hall Putsch» – Doug Stanhope
  • «Don’t Force It» – Tom Shillue
  • «Heyday» – Tom Shillue
  • «Oh My God» – Louis C.K.
  • «(pronounced dāv mȯr-däl)» – Dave Mordal
  • «Tense and Uncomfortable» – Paul Hooper
  • «Things I Think, I Think» – Roy Wood, Jr.
  • «Two First Names» – Tracey Ashley
  • «War Paint» – Iliza Shlesinger 

There ya go. Nine albums that are well worth blowing your Christmas money on. So what are you waiting for? Get to laughing!
Happy New Year!

Bill Cosby’s «…Far From Finished»

The Cos is back.
I don’t think you understand how incredible that statement is, so I’ll say it again. 
The Cos is back.
The Cos. Is back.
And he’s “Far From Finished.”
Not that he ever really went away. Despite the fact this is his first stand-up special in 30 years (Nope, I don’t feel old. Nope), he hasn’t been slacking by any means. He’s always kept himself busy by hitting the road and performing shows and it’s probably safe to say he is the most revered comedian we have around. I still think back to the scene in Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedian documentary where Chris Rock is telling Seinfeld about the Cosby show he went to see and how it blew him away. A few scenes later, Seinfeld is ducking backstage to catch a few words with the comedian and there’s a sense of awe and wonder; Dorothy finally entering the chamber of the Great Wizard.
There’s a reason Cosby is so widely revered. He’s funny as all get out.
The first thing people say when I tell them there’s a new Cosby project is, “How old is he?” He’s 76 and just as funny as he was when he was talking about Noah, his brother Russell, and his trip to the dentist. In fact, for those of you have listened to Cosby’s comedy over the years, there are a couple of callbacks to some classic routines that are genius. Cosby doesn’t overplay them or make someone feel left out if they don’t quite pick up on them, but it’s a playful wink to those who are paying attention. 
If you’re concerned that Cosby has become less funny with age…I mean, come on. What’s wrong with you? When someone is as funny as this, it never goes away. And if you were concerned that Cosby + Comedy Central = Crass, well…he addresses that concern at the beginning and does it so perfectly, you know in an instant that nothing has changed, and classic Cosby is here to stay.
Cosby’s material is still rooted in the classic themes in which he’s always thrived: Wives/Girrrlfriends (there’s a classic chess metaphor just waiting to kill you), his children (he brought you into this world, and…hey, let him say it!), his own stories from childhood (his buddy Otis and the sweet story of his boyhood crush on Bernadette), and how he’s never grown up (his tale of trying to sneak chocolate chip cookies is a lot of fun and his wife makes the perfect foil)
When I first received this project, I was excited to pull the bulky two-disc CD case from the envelope. My initial reaction was, “Oh wow, a CD/DVD combo!” Imagine my amazement when it dawned on me that both discs were CDs. That’s how much incredible material is included. Two hours and 15 minutes of brilliance that you’ll be raving about to friends immediately. They shouldn’t even offer single tracks on Amazon or iTunes because, really, you need to buy the entire thing. I’ve listened to it at least five times in the last couple of weeks and I’m not tired of it by any means. (And yes, the project is also available on DVDand Blu-Ray.)
I was talking to a friend about how much I love this project and he asked a good question. “Is it good because it’s good, or is it just because it’s Cosby?” The answer, really, is both. Yes, it’s good and yes, it’s Cosby, and the two of those factors together make for an album that is one of the best CDs I’ve heard not just this year, but in a long, long time (and maybe I’m just prejudiced because of the constant repeating of the phrase, “My friend Ed!”).
If you’ve laughed at anything Cosby has ever done, you will love “Far From Finished.” It’s a perfect addition to your Cosby collection and I don’t believe I’m exaggerating when I say it’s going to be an instant classic. I love that it’s coming out so soon to the holidays. When friends and family are over and the turkey has been eaten and everyone just wants to sit and digest, put this CD on. You’ll love watching the people you love laugh. 
Thanks, Cos.