Thursday, 6 August 2009

The Top 100 Comedy Albums on Spotify: Part One

Well, more accurately, it’s “one hundred comedy albums we could find on Spotify, discounting some really bad ones”. One annoying feature of Spotify is the limited search option. While it’s possible to search by genre (by using “genre:comedy” as the search term), you’re only going to as many results as can be shoved into five lines of text on the results screen. For example:


Oh, just the “173 more”? Don’t want to offer us the chance to see what they are, do you? Not an option, meaning we’ve had to come up with the ruse of typing “genre:comedy –conchords –stanhope –newhart –wright” etc, just to see the other artists tagged as comedy.

It’s all what Sergeant Wilson would call “a terrible fag”, but nevertheless we’ve been rummaging through Spotify to uncover a ton of gems. They’re in no specific order, and to be split up in chunks of twenty-five over several updates.

If you’ve not already got Spotify installed on your computer, go here. It’s free, and supported by adverts, or paid for, with no adverts. More details are here.

x10sctmp7Patton Oswalt – Werewolves and Lollipops (2007)

Shouty, acerbic US stand-up. As seen in (and heard on) Seinfeld, Flight of the Conchords, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. A funny man, and a worthwhile surrogate David Cross, seeing as David Cross isn’t yet on Spotify.

Sample line: “Sometimes, science is fuckin’ wrong, and gives us shit we don’t need. Like, 63-year-old women giving birth. Why not just come out and go ‘hey, we just made cancer airborne and contagious! You’re welcome! Hey, we’re science. We’re all about could’a, not should’a’.”

x10sctmp8Abbott & Costello – Who’s On First (2007)

Not actually from 2007, of course. The listed dates are those displayed on Spotify, presumably the dates of the re-issued content. Anyway, it’s Lou and Bud, who you should already know. This is a compilation from several of their Camel-sponsored radio shows, including the famous routine once famously fluffed by Seymour Skinner.

Sample line: “Last night you were out with two girls!” “Yeah, but I only caught one!”


The Marx Brothers – You Bet Your Life (2007)

Not, as it might seem, a compilation of the Groucho-helmed gameshow, but rather an interesting miscellany of Marx Bros offcuts. Includes a nice radio sketch where Harpo ‘speaks’ to Bing Crosby, through his interpreter Gary Cooper, as well as a radio preview show for Duck Soup – part of “The Paramount Movie Parade. “Each week, the most brilliant stars in the galaxy of screen artists, will project their personalities through your loud speaker, and proceed to lavishly entertain with drama, comedy and song”.


Dudley Moore & Peter Cook – Derek and Clive (Live) (1976)

“Woss the worst job you ever ‘ad?” Inaugural cuntfuckery from Pete and Dud.


Negativland – 180 D’Gs to the Future (2007)

Experimental SF Bay-based sound shenanigans. More than just “The avant-garde Tenacious D”.


Bill Cosby – 200 M.P.H. (1968)

A classic slice of Cosby, spilling his comedic guts on the various members of the family unit, cars, and why he feels that cats are shite. Much of it delivered in his “the kids these days, they’re all a hippin’ and a hoppin’, and a bippin’ and a boppin’, and they don’t understand the jazz”-type drawl lampooned so frequently on Family Guy.

Sample line: “If you want to own a real cat, get a lion. Then you’ll respect him. Then, when some guy breaks in your house at night, he’s going to get a shock.”


A Big Box of British Humour (2006)
Disc 1 | Disc 2 | Disc 3 | Disc 4

A huge compilation of late music-hall era British comedy taking in the likes of Will Hay, Tommy Trindler, Noel Coward, Max Miller, and a further 756 years worth of comedy experience we’re going to unfairly lump together with a curt “etc”. Illustrative track: Jack Warner’s ode to near misses on the pools coupon, If Only I’d Put An X Instead of 1. “Now it’s very, very difficult for workin’ blokes like me, who ain’t been educated at posh schools…”


Spike Milligan – A Collection of Spikes (2008)

Assorted offcuts from Spine Millington, taking in sketches, songs, poems, and readings from his books.


Robin Williams – A Night at the Met (1986)

Annoying as he might seem now, Robin Williams was a cracking stand-up in his prime. This is him in his prime. Easily Disproved Pet Theory Of The Minute: Robin Williams wasn’t as funny as Kenny Everett, which is why he wasn’t as fondly regarded in the UK as he was in the USA during the 1980s.


Flanders & Swan – A Transport of Delight: The Best Of (2003)

Wry piano-based lyrical archery. Includes at least one song about Medeira cake.


Steve Martin – A Wild and Crazy Guy (1978)

While you could reasonably expect just listening to early Martin routines without seeing his physical antics would be as pointless as a Radio 4 adaptation of a Michael Bay film, this is still worth a listen. Especially because it’s free.

Sample line: “Is it okay to shout “movie!” in a crowded fire house?”


Max Miller – All Good Stuff, Lady! (2004)

Hugely popular 1930s faux-offensive music hall giant. Mostly incomprehensible to 21st century ears, and most notable now for being the inspiration of The Fast Show’s Arthur “Where’s Me Washboard” Atkinson character.

Sample line: ”You want ‘ear me on Luxembourg on Sunday – I’m filthy!” No sign of the urban legendary “I didn't know whether to toss myself off or block her passage” line, though.


Monty Python – Another Monty Python Record (1989)

“Good evening. We apologise for the previous apology.” It’s on Spotify in two formats – one where each side of the record is a single track of over 25 minutes (the version named “Another Monty Python CD”), and one where each sketch is an individual track, as if being played from a compact disc (the version named “Another Monty Python Record”). This means that if you’re listening to the council version of Spotify (i.e. the version with adverts), listening to the former will mean fewer instances of Zane Lowe telling you to buy a new phone. The link up there is to the latter, which is preferable for sexy executive types like us, who pay for Spotify Premium.


Lewis Black – Anticipation (2008)

The shouty guy with glasses from The Daily Show. One of the best stand-ups on the circuit today, if you’re asking for our opinion. You weren’t? Oh.

Sample line: “I am a golfer. Now, that’s a Scottish word, and it means ‘asshole’.”


Noel Coward – At Las Vegas (1955)

A splendid find. Astonishingly, it actually does include a number he’d recently tossed off in the Caribbean (this is a lie).


Spinal Tap – Back From The Dead (2009)

It’s The Tap. Not, of course, to be confused with…


Bad News – Bad News (2004)

One of the most surprisingly wonderful finds we’ve made on Spotify – Rik Mayall, Ade Edmondson, Nigel Planer and Peter Richardson having come up with their own spoof metal band for The Comic Strip Presents… at around the same time as Spinal Tap were making their mark on the other side of the Atlantic. All good fun, with a combination of surprisingly not-bad riffola and All The Little Flowers Are Singing-style studio skits.

Sample lines: Vim Fuego: “I am not an ignorant person.” Den Dennis: “I am.” and later in the same sketch, Den Dennis: “What, have you got an ‘O’ Level in bass playing, then?”


Groucho Marx – Best of the Radio Shows (2008)

Unlike the Marx Bros album “You Bet Your Life”, which actually features the best of Marx Brothers’ various radio shows, the album “Best of The Radio Shows” contains the best bits of Groucho-helmed gameshow “You Bet Your Life”. All very confusing, but a nice enough listen as Groucho riffs it up with various contestants.

Sample exchange: “How much do you charge for a bucket of live bait on your ship?” “It’s a passenger ship!” “How much do you charge for a bucket of live passengers on your ship?”


Moore, Cook, Bennett and Miller – Beyond The Fringe: Music From the Original Broadway Cast (1962)

Despite the title, this does include a lot of the sketches, including the majestic The End Of The World, along with Dud’s marvellous inability to keep a straight face when Pete is being especially splendid.

Sample line: “You’re speaking too softly for the human ear, which is what I’m equipped with”.


Chris Rock – Bigger & Blacker (1999)

A landmark album. Best bit: No Sex, Rock’s take on the song Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen). “If a homeless person has a funny sign, he hasn’t been homeless that long. A real homeless person is too hungry to be funny”.


Billy Connolly – Bill and Albert (1987)

If nothing else, it’s a free chance for us to find out what all the fuss about Billy Connolly was during the 1980s. The only thing of his we really liked was when he appeared on the Kenny Everett Show.


Bob Newhart Faces Bob Newhart (2007)

Originally from 1964, this live recording sees Bob exploring the cultural mores of early 60s American life in his own inimitable style. Includes looks at TV commercials, amateur show contestants and nudist camps, along with a riff on what it might be like if you happened to be a lookalike of Hitler. It would probably be a bit harsh to claim Richard Herring was sitting in the crowd taking notes for the last of those.

Sample line: “Hey, that’s Hitler sitting next to me. When did he get out?”


Jonathan Katz – Caffeinated (2007)

Probably best known in the UK for being the voice and persona behind wobbly-animated shrink Dr. Katz, Jonathan Katz comes over as a more approachable Larry David. He’s a darned funny guy, to boot.

Sample lines: “Actually, I have a good marriage, and d’you know why? My wife and I don’t take each other for granted, and that’s the truth. Every morning, I ask her how she takes her coffee. [Audience giggles] No, it’s a small thing… but it’s annoying.” and “Lately I think my wife has been fooling around, ‘cos our parrot keeps saying ‘Give it to me hard and fast before my husband Jon Katz comes home’.”


Morecambe & Wise – Classic Morecambe & Wise Songs and Sketches (2000)

“The whole thing’s not right!” “No, but it’s cheap.” Easy listening comedy utopia, dating largely (as far as we can tell, though admittedly we’re not experts) from the underrated pre-Eddie Braben, ITV era, along with some of the music from their short-lived movie career. This disc sees an Eric and Ern slightly detached from what we’re more used to, with one sketch involving the duo getting drunk and punching each other in the face quite a lot, and a song ending with Ernie admitting a penchant for wearing lipstick. Yata-ta-ta.


Derek & Clive – Come Again (2003)

Track one is called “You Stupid Cunt”. This gave us a little bit of a shock, because it was in our playlist right next to Classic Morecambe & Wise Songs and Sketches, and at first glance it looked like it was actually the final track on Eric and Ern’s long player. They weren’t quite *that* out there before moving back to the Beeb.

That’s it for part one. Part two to follow soon.


4 .:

scissorkicks said...

"180 DGs To The Future" is truly magnificent, but I'm guessing totally befuddling to someone who doesn't know the original cut-up pieces that are being re-created in acapella styles. Wonderful stuff, though.

And HURRAH for the inclusion of Jonathan Katz. His "Hey, We're Back" podcast is superb. Just wish he did more of them, more often.

John the Monkey said...

Thanks for this - top stuff, despite the inclusion of Connolly, who I can't stand.

Jason said...

Excellent stuff: 'Bring me sunshine, you stupid cunt'. That would have had an effect on the viewing figures for their Christmas specials.

I don't know if they come up with a comedy search, but there are quite a few albums of Music Hall comedy and songs on Spotify and quite a few of '20s and '30s humour that is well worth a listen. Once at least.

Applemask said...

The problem with the Patton Oswalt record, even though he's great, is that I can't not picture a rat standing on the stage delivering the material. Which is very disturbing in the case of "Clean Filth".

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