Continuing with the second part of our rundown.
Various – Comedy Death Ray (2007)
Home to the only live recording of the mighty David Cross on Spotify (aside from another David Cross, who plays jazz), this dual-disc also takes in snippets of performances from Patton Oswalt, Neil Hamburger, Brian Posehn and the Reno 911 team. A nice primer for up to 18 American stand-up comedians you haven’t heard of before now.
Sample out of context quote: “This movie will scare the cum out of you – I guarantee it!”
A collection so good, we somehow own 1.67 physical copies of it. If you’re not already aware of The Bonzos, go and stand in the corner, and then read this. Luckily, Spotify contains pretty much all of the Bonzos’ output, including the Best Of CD responsible for some of the stupidest censorship on the whole of iTunes, so it’s easily fixed.
Two key facts about the Bonzos. One: US stadium-mope band Death Cab For Cutie are named after one of their songs. Two: in the song Rusty (Champion Thrust) (disc three, track twelve) we have one of those songs that we think is utterly brilliant, and everyone else – even, it seems, some members of the band that recorded it – dislikes. Oh, and three: they’re frigging ace.
Sample lyric: “Say hello to big John Wayne, xylophone And Robert Morley, guitar. Billy Butlin, spoons. And looking very relaxed, Adolf Hitler on vibes. Nice!” – The Intro and the Outro.
The sort of American stand-up to leave the front row of the audience with spittle-flecked faces at the end of a gig. He first popped up on our radar when he fronted one-off Channel Four Comedy Lab programme Doug Stanhope Go Home. Which is here:
The show was a brilliant look at certain British attitudes to immigration, and can be summed up as essentially “get a fucking clue, you bigoted fucks”. Always handy to show to relatives who like to include you on their racist joke bulk email list.
Sample quote: “There’s too many people in this country, But I think if you’re going to focus on keeping people out, you gotta focus on the people who don’t contribute to society. That’s a no-brainer. There’s a specific group of over four million people that come into this country every year, and who don’t contribute a fuckin’ thing, and everyone knows who I’m talkin’ about, but no-one wants to say it, because it’s politically incorrect. But fuck that, you know who I’m talkin’ about. Babies, that’s who I’m talking about! They come into this country, they don’t speak the language, they don’t wanna work, they just take, and they take. Put the border control official at the base of your uterus!”
More work from sonic terrorists Negativland. Oddly, Happy Hero is a song loosely based on the career of Michael Jackson that hasn’t been played much since his death.
Key lyrics: “They'd plug me in a wheelchair and they'd push me down the hall / I'd play a song for dying kids, your eyes would start to tear / That would be the ticket, to bolster my career” – Happy Hero.
The late US absurdist riffs on a number of subjects, including “Tea Ski” and “Canal Smarts”.
Sample line: “The word ‘Lull’ has too many L’s in it. Goddamn it, lull is almost all L’s. Thank god for that ‘U’ in it, to break all those L’s up.”Jim Gaffigan – Doing My Time (2004)
A comedian we feel compelled to label as “Big Jim Gaffigan”, even though we have no idea how tall he is. If you’re trying to place him, he played Murray’s friend in the “Murray Takes It to the Next Level” episode of Flight Of The Conchords. This is a hugely funny album, though oddly (at least in the case of the version on here) all the curse-words are blanked out, which is a little jarring. Still worth a listen, of course.
Sample line: “Isn’t it strange that when you’re single, all you see are couples, but when you’re part of a couple, all you see are hookers?”
A list of comedy albums without including any Ivor Cutler would be unthinkable. Luckily, Spotify fares well here, with several offerings, though sadly Ludo isn’t there, so there’s no Cockadoodledon’t or The Shapely Balloon. With luck, that’ll be remedied at some point in the future. Here are a few of the Cutler cuts available on Spotify..
An Elpee and Two Epees compiles some of Cutler’s early work, dating from 1959 to 1961. Dandruff is a little light on actual songs, packed more tightly with poems and short (sometimes very short) stories. Your best introduction to Cutler as far as Spotify is concerned is possibly 1976’s Jammy Smears, taking in a number of songs, poems and general meanderings from the Scotch surrealist.
One of the hard-to-find stand-up sets from more recent UK/Irish comedians (if anyone knows of any more, please leave a comment), which is nice. The self-confessed Darlene From Roseanne lookalike treats us to over an hour of his observations on planes, The A-Team, McGyver, and okay, we’ve only had time to listen to one track. It’s a top hundred, cut us some slack here.
Peter Sellers – EMI Comedy (2001)
Does anyone know the collective noun for EMI label comedy retrospectives? Because here come a… slew of them? Slew? Would that be right? Here’s Peter Sellers, and a series of gently wry gems. Sample track – a spoken performance of the Beatles song Can’t Buy Me Love, delivered by Sellers taking on the persona of a gentlemanly cad, and a middle-aged lady.
Laurel & Hardy – EMI Comedy (2001)
“You’re in love. L-U-G-H, love.” It also includes the duos performance of The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine from 1937’s Way Out West, which reached number 2 in the UK pop charts some 39 years after being originally issued. More pertinently, it also troubled the Top 40 again about ten years later, meaning we got to see Stan and Ollie on Top Of The Pops Chart Breakers. which was excellent. On video, not in person, obviously.
Max Miller – EMI Comedy (2006)
More near-incomprehensible meanderings from the self-styled “cheeky chappie”. PARENTAL ADVICE WARNING: Contains references to ‘courting’.
Sample quote: “Of all the forty-eight states, Texas is my favourite three.” Yep, forty-eight. “I left England when I was seven years old. Y’see, in those days, they were exporting ham.” We’re tempted to state how a lot of the material on these albums could almost be Dicky & Dino “hey, I haven’t seen this guy since rehearsal!”-style spoofs, but then Bob Hope was a hugely popular millionaire entertainer, and we’re typing this in a T-shirt bought from TK Maxx.
Jack Benny – EMI Comedy (2002)
As far as we can tell, Benny’s comedy persona was pretty much that of Tony Hancock’s (comedy persona’s) Stateside cousin, though of course his radio shows pre-dated Tony Hancock’s rise to power. Except, as this was American radio, it was all performed at a faster pace, meaning we’re not very good at making illustrative comparisons. This CD also includes a lot of Frank Nelson, the comedian referenced by “The Jerk That Goes ‘Yeeeeeeess’” in late-era Simpsons.
Mel Blanc – EMI Comedy (2006)
Prime cuts from the 20th century’s greatest voicesmith’s eponymous radio show. This album also contains a nice sketch where Mel, in character as Elmer Fudd, makes a complaint to, ahem, Fwank Sinatwa.
More radio recordings from the brothers Marx. Includes a nice sketch where Groucho tries to con Al Jolson. In one of the stupidest moves ever done by human hands, almost all of the recordings of 1930s Marx Bros radio sitcom Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel were destroyed, so you won’t be finding any of them here. Luckily, you can listen to the surviving recordings, along with the 1990s BBC remakes, here.
“Jolson, you’re remarkable. Here you are, old enough to be your father.”
If there were a prize for laziest artwork, this would probably win it, thanks to the strapline “XXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXX ZZZZZZZZZ”. Either that’s a clever reference to the purposefully obtuse penmanship of Spike Milligan, or the designer sent out the artwork too soon. Anyway, here are three episodes of The Go On Show, namely “Tales of Old Dartmoor”, “Dishonoured” and “Tale Of Men’s Shirts”. Of course, if you want more Goon goodness, this streaming radio, erm, stream offers nothing but 24/7 Goon Show.
“Here’s my business card.” “It’s blank!” “Business… is bad.”
If you’re the sort of person who can stand Jerry Lewis putting on an annoying voice for an hour, this this is the sort of album you may well be able to tolerate. We can’t say we’re part of that limited demographic, however. And yet, we think MC Chris is brilliant. Hmm.
Angry, funny, Jewish. His words, not ours, though we can vouch for at least two of those.
“There’s only one way to find out if you’re racist or not. The next time you lose something, that you think has been stolen, see where your head goes. See how many ethnic types you use to cast that short mystery film. How many blacks and latinos do you get through before you finally say, aw fuck, here it is, it was under the seat…”
Hurrah. “The humans are dead (The humans are dead) / The humans are de-ad (They look like they’re dead) / It had to be done (I’ve just confirmed that they’re dead) / So that we could have fu-un (I poked one. It was dead)”.
Todd Barry – From Heaven (2008)
Speaking of the Conchords, here’s “the bongo playing megalomaniac” from the final episode of FotC season one, more commonly known as Todd Barry.
Sample quote: “I saw a guy in the street, with his little boy, like a three-year-old boy. Little boy is wearing a Dead Kennedys T-shirt. I just wanted to walk up to the father and go, “hey, y’know what? Your kid ain’t that cool”. I can just see the father dressing the kid with the mother. “Honey, why you putting that little blue sweater on him? If he wears that, how’s everyone going to know how great my CD collection is?”
Better known as Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis. Two points here. Firstly, this is kind of like a version of Wayne’s World, but pre-dating WW by several years, and with Canada replacing heavy metal. Secondly, it’s not quite as good as Wayne’s World, but still worth a listen. Is it just us, or did Rick Moranis disappear off the radar not long after starring in Eric Idle’s Splitting Heirs (still not available on Region 2 DVD)? And yet, Catherine Zeta-Jones’ career soared after being in the same film. At the time, she wasn’t even famous enough to get her name on the poster! We didn’t think Splitting Heirs was that bad, actually. Boy, does that simple statement invalidate everything we’ve said over the previous twenty-five entries.