It’s that time of year again, The Laugh Button staff sat in a room and slugged it out to determine what were the best comedy albums and specials of 2016. This year was a fantastic year for comedy. With so many different channels producing top notch content for so many great comedians. It was a great year for comedy fans, slightly tougher one if you’re a comedy fan writing for a comedy website where you have to pick favorites. But that’s what we did, the top 50 to be exact, and we’re bringing them to you installments.
Here’s #20 – #11.
Christopher Titus’ new show takes the audience on a wild ride through his personal life, and proves why he isn’t qualified to be a father, and why childless couples win. In between Titus again takes you down some roads that may be unlikely to win him a CNN heroes award but will always be hilarious. His reasoning as to why owning a Ferrari is better than having children along with more of his beloved dysfunctional personal anecdotes will have you clutching your sides with laughter. This is some of his most surprising material yet, and Christopher Titus again shows in his seventh ninety minute special why he is one of the best comics working today.
19. Iliza Shlesinger – Confirmed Kills (Netflix)
The stand-up sensation tackles TV’s Shark Tank, what it means to be a woman and how to deal with the lawless party goblin that lives in us all during her 2016 Netflix special Confirmed Kills. This is her third from the streaming service after Warpaint and Freezing Hot.
2016 was a big year for Iliza. She signed a deal with ABC’s Freeform to develop a late-night talk show, she released this special, she appeared on The Tonight Show and The Late Late Show, she hosted the game show Separation Anxiety, and she rocked a country-wide tour. And 2017 is only going to get bigger for her.
In SMD, Pete Davidson is having a moment. The young comedian already hit tremendous success early in his career with appearances on Comedy Central Roasts and landing a role on Saturday Night Live. Now he’s proving that he didn’t lose his stand-up comedy muscle with his first ever special. Davidson discusses topline issues for a young man like weed smoking, Justin Bieber concerts, and travel. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t go deep, talking about his first responder father’s death on 9/11 and the repercussions of it. Well, what it means to want to get a tattoo to honor him. SMD is our first look at a comedian with a very promising career ahead of himself.
Cameron Esposito decided to do something a bit different for her bachelor party: record her first stand-up special for Seeso, Marriage Material. Recorded in Cameron’s hometown of Chicago in front of a sold out crowd just two days before her wedding, the new album covers everything from the secrets of a women’s locker room to gun control, marriage equality, drug policy and why love is alive.
David Cross ventured out on his first tour in over a half decade and it cultivated into one of his best specials to date. David Cross…America… Great… which was filmed during the Making America Great Again! tour showcased Cross’ keen observations while skewering Donald Trump, religious taboos and American swagger in a provocative night of comedy that was filmed at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas. The content of this special was ever changing coinciding with the Drumpf campaign. So if you caught this shows on the tour, it very well could be different than this particular encapsulation via Netflix. Well worth a second viewing.
15. Hannibal Buress – Comedy Camisado (Netflix)
Hannibal Buress toured his ass off on a tour with the same name before he taped Comedy Camisado. It was the first one the comedian taped for Netflix and it was release along with a documentary of him taking Edinburgh. Comedy Camisado is packed with stealthy humor while he tackles zipper etiquette, the legacy of steroids and the fallout from his Bill Cosby routine. By this point, Burress is a total pro on the stage and it shows on Comedy Camisado.
14. Pete Holmes – Faces And Sounds (HBO)
Over the course of his silly, high-energy performance on Faces And Sounds, Pete Holmes shares his thoughts on such disparate topics as: the keys to happiness; the illogicality of nightmares; being an “easy laugh;” what to wear on a flight; bizarre quirks of language; filling one’s “joy quota;” how the British deal with awkward situations; the ridiculousness of porn; and more. Pete Holmes’ sense of humor is joy and wonder and he continues to push those thoughts forward with his new HBO special.
By now we can assume Daniel Tosh doesn’t care to please people. He’s a comedian. It’s in the job title. His new special, People Pleaser, remains true to Tosh’s reputation of being politically incorrect and callous. Best known for his Comedy Central TV show Tosh.0, Tosh releases his fourth special for Comedy Central. Every step of the way, he maintains his style of tongue-in-cheek humor. From the top, Tosh leaves no survivors. He opens with a take down of America, saying “it’s the best country in the world if you haven’t traveled a lot.” Throughout the special, he goes after Kansas, kids, nerds, drug addicts, men, women, this father, his mother, Canada, and even himself. He starts off broad. He jokes about race, diversity, reproduction rights, and cancer — topical concepts. Eventually, he hones in on himself and his relationships. He reminds the audience that his off-color jokes aren’t without consequence; he still receives thousands of death threats.
People Pleaser is definitely a special for a mature audience who is willing to go deep. It is for those who can move beyond the shock value and are ready to laugh. The whole special is very well thought out and purposeful. Each joke has a duality, surprise and a clever punch. That is the true essence of the special, and this makes it great for repeat plays.
12. Ali Wong – Baby Cobra (Netflix)
She’s fierce, filthy and very pregnant. And after finally finding her Mr. Perfect, she dreams of never working again. This year Ali Wong tapped into the zeitgeist with her Netflix special, Baby Cobra. Recorded when she was 7 months pregnant with her first child, Wong took to the stage and broke through with her much buzzed about special tackling her marriage, pregnancy, and why she thinks the feminist movement missed the point. Ali is honest and hilarious. Hell, she even prompted a Halloween trend.
With the current political climate, levity is sometimes needed. That’s where Anthony Atamanuik and James Adomian come into play. Both masterful impressionists, the duo take on the roles of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. The pair has set up a killer show that’s set up debate style pitting the two (well now one) Presidential candidates against each other. The pair have taken the show on the road with a national tour, appearance on @midnight and Fusion special. And now, as the 42nd and final performance of the show happened last night at Just For Laughs, an album is being released, documenting a moment in time for two talented comedians.