Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Seriously Funny
2008-06-23 18:20
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

For more than ten years I've talked about records, record labels, record producers, rare 45 b-sides and comedians with my dear friend Alan who knows more about records and record history than anyone I know, and it's not even close.  When we see each other, we usually go right into an old Carlin routine, or a Lenny Bruce sketch, or Bugs Bunny riff.  Alan was the first guy I thought of this morning. When he got into work and saw the red light on his phone, he knew who the message was from 

I got the following e-mail from Alan this afternoon:

George Carlin records were the comedy soundtrack of my childhood. I heard "AM/FM" and "Class Clown" when I about 9 years old. First to laugh hysterically at them, then to memorize them, then to imitate every single vocal inflection contained on them ("Hey, who's wearing chicken vegetable", "Not me, I have bean with bacon"). I learned about language, culture, and humor from absorbing these records (and soon many more). Thank you, George.

I love comedy records.

Pretty much any records that have made me laugh or still make me laugh, are things I listen to more than anything else these days. This feeling is not limited to stand-up comedy records, but I'll be brief.

These are the records that have cracked me tup more than any others.

Lenny Bruce - "Let The Buyer Beware" (audiobook), "The Carnegie Hall Concert" and "Thank You, Masked Man".
George Carlin - "AM/FM", "Class Clown",and "Occupation: Foole"
Richard Pryor - "That Nigger's Crazy", "Is It Something I Said"
Franklyn Ajaye - "Don't Smoke Dope, Fry Your Hair"
Bill Cosby - "Wonderfulness"
Steve Martin - "Let's Get Small"
Lewis Black - "The Carnegie Hall Concert"
Patton Oswalt - "Werewolves and Lollipops"

A top-ten stand-up list?

Let's break it down this way

1. Lenny Bruce
2/3. George Carlin / Richard Pryor (you decide, I can't)

4-10 then-ish

4. Jonathan Winters (didn't make great records, but no one is funnier to watch)
5. Bill Cosby
6. Rodney Dangerfield
7. Alan King
8. Jackie Mason (more for the one man shows in the 80's & 90's than for his eary stuff)
9. Moms Mabely
10. Charlie Callas (along with Winters, very few could get a laugh just by showing up)

4-10 now-ish

4. Lewis Black
5. Patton Oswalt
6. Chris Rock
7. Bernie Mac
8. David Cross
9. Ron White
10. Eddie Izzard

I'd throw in "A Star is Bought," by Albert Brooks as one of my favorite comedy albums, along with "Wild and Crazy Guy," (Steve Martin), "The 2013 Year Old Man" (Brooks and Reiner) and the double lp of Woody Allen's stand up years. Oh, and maybe Eddie Murphy's debut too. But not before I added "Live in Concert," the double Richard Pryor lp. Oh, there are lots more. Nichols and May, Robin Williams, the National Lampoon stuff, the old Peter Sellers records...The Bob and Doug record used to crack me up.

Here's a question. Who are the funniest comics to have never made a great album? Mort Sahl and Jonathan Winters, who some people claim is the funniest man on the face of the earth, spring to mind. I never cared for Lily Tomlin's records either. Whatta ya got?

2008-06-23 18:48:24
1.   jkay

George Carlin's cat nearly gave (one) life to Dodgers

2008-06-23 19:11:34
2.   Mr OK Jazz TOKYO
I think Pryor goes above Bruce because of his physicality and vocal mimicry...

for sheer hysterics on album I'd say he lyrics to Yes "Tales From Topographic Oceans" are top ten..

2008-06-23 19:34:01
3.   cult of basebaal

glad to see you dig the patton, gotta say he's my favorite out there right now

those of you who don't know him ... or know him only as the voice of remy in ratatouille, here's a representative sample:

2008-06-23 19:47:00
4.   Yankee Fan in Chicago
No love for Bob Newhart in any of those lists?
2008-06-23 19:48:38
5.   Yankee Fan in Chicago
I also have to give props to Don Rickles. The recent documentary on him that HBO has been running -- Mr. Warmth -- is really outstanding.
2008-06-23 20:22:33
6.   Chyll Will
I discovered this very same record among my brother's private stash years ago, but only after seeing him on Robert Townsend's first "Partners in Crime" special on HBO. Seems he was high as a kite throughout most of the recording, or definitely seriously whacked out by the end of it. Ajaye seemed to stay on the fringes throughout his whole career, though he did peek through the surface at odd times. I think he was more successful as a comedic writer than with standup or film roles.

Strange no one mentioned Redd Foxx; his "Confucius" routine is classic...

2008-06-23 21:15:30
7.   Chyll Will
6 Better Redd Foxx sample:

2008-06-23 22:33:21
8.   TokyoTom
So George is not on the list because he is above the list? (No pun intended)

I know some of you guys don't like him, but Dane Cook made me fall out of my chair and have stomach cramps.

Eddie Izzard actually made me cry. Only comic that has made me laugh that hard.

2008-06-23 22:42:27
9.   TokyoTom
Favorite Carlin lines:
Why is their stuff "shit" and your shit "stuff"?
How come anyone on the road who's driving faster than you is a maniac and anyone driving slower than you is an asshole?
And the discussion of why "tits" should not be among the 7 words. It sounds like a nickname, "Tits meet Toots. Toots, Tits."
2008-06-23 22:44:43
10.   TokyoTom
Add to the list: Jerry Seinfeld. Saw him in West Orange, NJ, I believe it was in Rascals, about a year before his show came out. Nearly pissed myself...stomach cramps.
2008-06-24 00:21:49
11.   Eric Enders
Can we get some love for Bill Hicks?
2008-06-24 04:36:03
12.   ChuckM
9 "New Nabisco Tits" always kills me.

I lost most, if not all, respect for Dane Cook once I realized how many bits he stole from other comedians.

2008-06-24 05:24:01
13.   Alex Belth
Yeah, Bob Newhart needs to get some love. His debut record, "Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart" was an enormous hit for Warner Bros, and led to the Cosby records. He was seminal.

I never really laughed too much at Hicks. Thought he was smart but he didn't make me laugh. But a lot of people think Lenny Bruce was overrated and unfunny too. I happen to love some of the early Bruce stuff--"Lima, Ohio," "The Palladium," "White Collar Drunks," "How White People Entertain Colored People at the Party"

2008-06-24 06:02:35
14.   TokyoTom
Wait. After re-reading the post, I realized that Robin Williams was not on the list. Can't be. One of his HBO specials is pure genius. Some bit about baseball players imagining the lines on the field like lines of blow. Circa 1980s, Mets, etc.
2008-06-24 06:06:01
15.   TokyoTom
12 Didn't know that about Cook. What's the deal? His BJ story is hilarious. The bit about crying....maybe I don't get out enough. However he does some religious and racial stuff that I don't dig.
2008-06-24 06:27:45
16.   ChuckM
Cook robbed quite a few bits from Louis C.K. and some from Demetri Martin. There are a few others from what I understand, I just can't research them all right now thanks to the damn web-filter at work.
2008-06-24 08:03:43
17.   Chyll Will
15 Scott Long over at The Juice called out Cook just as ChuckM describes, and also Denis Leary. One commenter even noted from a magazine article that an LA club had a system to alert performing comedians when those three (and especially Robin Williams) were in the audience, so that they could not give out their best material. It was part of a conversation about Joe Rogan confronting Carlos Mencia, who is about as transparent a comedy thief as you can get.

The thing with Cook, among others, is that he liberally borrows material, but is very slick about it. He gives a good performance and works the audience (anyone that saw the posters for his recent comedy special can sense this), but some of his material is co-opted from Louis C.K. and others...

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