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 #40 – #31.
Depression runs deep on Aparna Nancherla’s Just Putting This Out There. While it looms, the comedian manages to retain a warm, broad appeal as she progresses, inviting listeners into her personal headspace. Her frank discussion of mental illness is both self-effacing and revealing.
On Just Putting It Out There, Nancherla discusses instances in which she’s been underestimated. Something she’s familiar with as a comedian, woman, and minority. It’s a stark standing by one of the funniest comedians working right now. Nancherla is insighful as she processes the world around her.
39. Sebastian Maniscalco – Why Would You Do That? (Showtime)
The outrageously funny Sebastian Maniscalco stars in this comedy special, blending his high energy physicality and his inimitable facial expressions to send up modern life through the lens of his old-world, Italian-American upbringing.
Saying what we’re all thinking has always been Sebastian Maniscalco’s specialty. Except when he says it, it’s a whole lot funnier. Still sporting his Chicago accent despite leaving the Windy City in the early 2000’s to follow his dream in Los Angeles, Maniscalco began paying his comedy dues by night playing his brand of comedy in bars and bowling alleys while working as a waiter at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. It wasn’t until Maniscalco captured the attention of award-winning actor and entertainer Vince Vaughn who selected him to be one of four featured comedians in the critically acclaimed film Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show that his comedy career began to explode. In addition, Maniscalco co-headlined the Oddball comedy tour this past summer. Here he is, one of the biggest names of 2016 and this latest special is a big reason why.
In The Nerdist’s latest special, Funcomfortable, Chris Hardwick talks about sexual fetishes, a strange experience with a blow-up doll and how inappropriate humor helped him cope with this father’s death.
Hardwick’s empire is ever growing across numerous platforms with armies of supporters hailing from multiple generations. He can do it all and stand-up is something that the host, actor, comedian, writer, and producer still roots himself in deeply. And despite all the projects he involved with both in front of and behind the camera or mic, his comedy doesn’t suffer. Just when you think you’ve been in some uncomfortable situations, Hardwick know how to make you feel just that much better about those situations. Dare we say he makes the feel Funcomfortable.
Yannis Pappas is a name that should be spoken amongst the great New York comedians. Pappas has spent the last 10+ years developing killer stand-up that’s sometimes been overshadowed by strong web characters (Maurica and Mr. Panos) he’s also created. With the release of Let Me Be Yannis. Pappas’ finely honed stand-up comedy finally gets it’s due. Pappas is funny and conversational, with a strong point-of-view on topics that currently divide our country. He has the stage confidence that only comes from putting in the hours on stage. And don’t worry, some of those voices make appearances too.
Michael Ian Black is a Noted Expert or should we say, the character of “Michael Ian Black” is. Black tackles adult issues, like being a husband and a father. But while doing so, he manages to make himself simultaneously the smartest man in the room (with references to artists) while doing something really silly, like being arrested while doing it.
Over the course of an hour we get the sleek showman that is the king of jerkey snark. A coat of smarm Black’s worn well since we were first introduced to him from The State and one that’s all over Noted Expert.
Hari Kondabolu’s second album Mainstream American Comic is boldly political and satirical. This is Kondabolu’s wheelhouse. Look at the guy’s credentials. The comedian’s repertoire includes being a correspondent for Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. His first album, Waiting For 2042, was loaded with with commentary and observations about society. This follow up album carries that signature. It was recorded at Mississippi Studios in Portland, OR. Portland demographically is white and educated, which begs for a choice relationship between the Indian comic and the audience. Kondabolu takes advantage of this from the first laugh comparing Portland to Denmark if the city “happens to have it’s own country.”
I Kinda Like It When a Lotta People Die is George Carlin at his bitingly best. Recorded over the course of two nights at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on September 9th and 10th, 2001, this never-before-released material was to be the source for Carlin’s twelfth HBO special. But following the attacks on 9/11, Carlin removed and reworked much of the content into what ultimately became Complaints and Grievances. Now here for this first time is the performance as it was originally planned, raw and uncensored, and featuring Carlin’s characteristic acerbic wit and insight.
33. Rory Scovel – The Charleston Special (Seeso)
This is Rory Scovel’s first hour-long stand-up special for the VOD streaming service Seeso. Directed by Scott Moran and filmed at the Woolfe Street Playhouse in Charleston, SC. The special was produced entirely, from building the set to hanging lights, by Scovel and a crew of his closest friends. Mixing his spontaneous creativity and absurd view of the world, he performs what can only be described as a baby born from the midst of both pre-determined and spontaneous material encapsulating that which makes Scovel… Scovel.
32. Jimmy Carr – Funny Business (Netflix)
Jimmy Carr continued his signature trend of spot on one-liners in his 2016 special and first ever for Netflix (US) Funny Business. He once again pushes the envelope with subject matter so far beyond bad that it’s good again. You should soak up Funny Business if not just for the joke structure alone. He somehow stays fresh while performing like a classic comedian from days of old. He doesn’t play it safe or nice on this latest special.
31. Bert Kreischer – The Machine (Showtime)
Bert Kreischer is one of those guys. That guy that has so many incredibly insane stories, you’d think there was no way they can all be true, but in Bert’s case they are. The Machine is Kreischer’s first special for Showtime and he takes the opportunity to have video to 1) perform the special without a shirt and 2) get those classic stories documented on celluloid. Why did the special get called The Machine? Well that’s one of his best stories.