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 #30 – #21.
In Criminally Posehn comedian Brian Posehn takes the stage at The House of Blues San Diego during Comic-Con, and delivers n exceptional nerd-core stand-up performance. Part geek, part metalhead, Posehn delivers his raunchy style of humor with a side of self shaming. Despite his enjoyment of strip clubs being ruined by threats from his intimidating wife, getting himself caught by a drug dog on his own accord, and the hate for his own man boobs, Posehn proves he’s a rock star, no matter how nerdy he may be.
Drew Michael’s Funny to Death is grim. He tests the audience palpability pointing out that unlike his opener, his mother is still alive. How gloomy can a comic be if you can hear his mother laughing in the background, he begs. He nails down what depression is: seeing the world as it is. He argues that, “Happy people should be medicated.” Much of the album is Michael throwing out possible hypotheticals from Copernicus trying convince everyone about Earth’s revolutions around the sun to an appropriate use of a roofie which does not involve sex in anyway. It all very convincingly funny. He is able to sell it because of the vulnerability he creates for himself. He is open about his lack of relating to others, which in turn, makes him relatable.
28. Bill Maher – #WhinyLittleBitch (Facebook Live)
Watch: Facebook Live
Bill Maher took to the stage at Largo comedy club in Los Angeles for his latest special entitled #WhineyLittleBitch. What made this latest effort such a departure for the political satirist was that it streamed live on Facebook. To date it have nearly two million views. A wise move as most of Maher’s material is very timely and from the name of the special alone you can see his sights were set on the man who once tried to sue him for $5million dollars, Donald Drumpf. If you agree with Maher than this special is simply your favorite one from him yet, and if you don’t, you most likely didn’t even know it happened. Other topics discussed were Anthony Weiner, Hillary’s emails, and a slew of political comparisons between politicians and sports athletes.
Cole Blooded Seminar was recorded in Washington D.C. at the Lincoln Theater. It starts off with an arena-like introduction. Upbeat music and a deep voice announces our keynote speaker, Deon Cole. Known for roles on ABC’s Blackish and TBS’s Angie Tribeca, the comedian comes out ready and upfront with a warning that he is going to offend white people. He is going to offend women. The challenge is accepted as warm laughter pours over the crowd.
In a world where social equality remains a constant struggle, Deon Cole manages to find new ways to pointedly articulate it in, Cole Blooded Seminar. Cole’s set covers men, women, being black, and aging. His candor never refrains from being engaging and clever.
26. Joe Rogan – Triggered (Netflix)
The first thing Joe Rogan does on Triggerd is yell at an audience member to put their phone down then declare that he’s high as hell. That juxtaposition sums up Joe Rogan almost perfectly. One one hand, an explosive man who is jacked and can take you apart from years of MMA training. And on the other a comedian who knows a lot – and we mean a lot – about edibles the psychedelic world. Whether it be Scientology, internet trolls, or the state of Texas, Rogan takes on these topics to a fever pitch. Worried about how his kids are taking in the world. Rogan now lives in a house full of women (3 daughters, 1 wife) where it’s simultaneously f*cking with his manhood while adding an entirely new perspective to his life.
25. Colin Quinn – The New York Story (Netflix)
Colin Quinn might be the smartest comedian you know. For he’s never been one to just release a stand-up comedy special. Rather opting for a style akin to the one-man show, and he’s great at it. After the tremendous success of Unconstitutional in which he talked about the formation of America, Quinn went a bit more personal, once again teaming up with director Jerry Seinfeld, and tackled the topic of his hometown of New York City. From the meager beginnings with immigrants to what it’s like growing up on a street corner, Quinn talks about what it was like having a quintessential New York experience. And he does it through history and humor.
Joe List is one hell of a joke writer, and that ability shines bright on his Comedy Central Records debut, Are You Mad At Me? List’s 2016 was a strong one as it saw the release of this record, his podcast Tuesdays With Stories reached new milestones, and List was hand-selected to be an opener on a variety of dates for Louis C.K. including Madison Square Garden. Are You Mad At Me? is a romp through Lists’ anxieties, he’s a little bit awkward, but who isn’t? He is also capable of being honest, witty, and observational, a rare mix of traits from someone lacking social graces. List takes great cracks at the everyday stuff, and while the solutions aren’t always exactly on point, the punches are.
Comedian Gary Gulman recently shot his third one-hour comedy special It’s About Time earlier this year in March at the Highline Ballroom in New York City. Gulman tackles topics like extreme laziness, Hitler and the joys and pitfalls of shopping at Trader Joe’s with his typical neurotic bewilderment. Gulman is at his very best these days. It’s About Time showcases his well thought out, timed, and perfectly worded jokes. And be sure to check out his appearance on The Laugh Button Podcast.
Socio-political comedian W. Kamau Bell’s latest, Semi-Prominent Negro, brings his characteristically biting and hilarious take on the real issues of contemporary America from gentrification to raising his family in a post-Obama nation. Morgan Spurlock directed this special which is cool in its own right. Bell recorded this album in Brooklyn which is currently publicized for its swift gentrification. Being resourceful, he comments on the burrow’s turnover at the top of his set. He pokes at the imaginary, white Brooklynite who is upset for changes made after two years of residency. The joke turns into a larger statement on the strangeness of nostalgia. It’s a small observation which greatly reflects America’s fondness for what used to be.
As Bell continues, he describes the America he knows. He explains the differences of “West Coast Liberalism vs. East Coast Liberalism.” He touches on the high number of recent difficulties for the black community.
Perfect really is the perfect name for Nikki Glaser’s special. Now that she declared she is finally an adult woman (who can’t shake T-Swift or Snapchat), she is ready to preach to her audience. They listen up, raise their hands in praise for giving Glaser taking the stage. Perfect rounded out a busy year for Glaser, released at the peak time of her late night talk show, Not Safe where the comedian had frank conversations about sexuality with her friends, comedians, and sexuality. Something Glaser tackles head on in Perfect.