So now it’s the end of the year and you’re wondering, “Where is my list of the top comedy albums for 2016?” Look no further, because Raw Dog presents the 2016 Champions of Comedy, the definitive countdown of the year’s best comedy albums.
You won’t find a number or star value assigned to each album like the rest of those sub-par lists. We rate our comedy on a pizza scale, as you’ll see below. Steve Varley, who like me, reviews a ton of albums to see if they make the cut, found a way to amuse himself and we’ve implemented his system for this special. Here are the 2016 Champions of Comedy, according to the knuckleheads on SiriusXM Raw Dog Comedy (Ch. 99).
Yannis Pappas – Let Me Be Yannis
Aaron: I’ve seen Yannis live many times and have been waiting for him to release an album so the rest of the world can know how great he is. Let Me Be Yannis is a fantastic introduction of his talent. He manages to be both provocative and welcoming as he seamlessly weaves in and out of hot button issues like gun control, or when he’s comparing the stages of a romantic relationship to rebuilding a mediocre sports franchise.
Let Me Be Yannis is a meat lover’s pizza. You get a beautiful variety of meats to savor and the greasy, thick dough sits in your gut for weeks.
Chris Locke – Demons Are Eating My Head
Aaron: If Chris Locke were my friend and he and I and 100 of our friends shared the same experience, he would be our official delegate to tell the story to the world. Demons Are Eating My Head is a frenzied collection of stories chock full of fun facts and whimsical joy.
Demons Are Eating My Head gets an Extra Large Hawaiian Pie with the juiciest of pineapples. Throw in a little jerk chicken appetizer, since Chris once gave me a hot tip on the best place to eat in Toronto. I forgot the name of the place, but it was good.
Giulia Rozzi – True Love
Steve: What a pleasant surprise Giulia was. With a name like that, I judged she might be someone who knew a couple of people to get this made. Not the case. This girl may be the future. Funny, good pacing, original and with the times. I chuckled, I laughed, I forgot I was working! She really does encompass the female angle that we crave right now, brutally honest and open.
Give her three pizzas and ’cause she’s Italian, THROW A LIL PEP ‘ A RONI ON THERE. STAND OUT TRACK: “Catcalled” – She hates being catcalled but at the same time it hurt her feelings when a real estate agent told her if she were in a bikini she would be “fine” in a bad neighborhood. Hysterical track delving into the conflicts of catcalling from the women’s perspective.
Dan Cummins – Don’t Wake The Bear
Steve: Dan calls out people who try to be perfect. He exposes so well how our society forgot to just live and not care so much about everything. He is the guy who you would want to walk through the streets of N.Y.C. with just to hear his commentary on all the entitled people. The whole album is great, but the first seven tracks stood out as the best cuts.
So, I give Don’t Wake The Bear seven personal pies from 7-Eleven, hold the Big-Gulp.
Amy Miller – Solid Gold
Aaron: Amy Miller is so refreshing! She started doing stand-up comedy much later in life than most people do, but that seems to be a strength more than a weakness. On Solid Gold, you can tell that she knows who she is, and she’s not afraid to share her take on her wacky family, her dating history or anything else.
Solid Gold is a Paul’s Boutique Pie from Speedy Romeos – unique and deeply satisfying.
Anthony Jeselnik – Thoughts And Prayers
Aaron: Sometimes I wasn’t sure where to laugh. There were so many layers of punchlines that I flagged myself for false starts several times while listening to Anthony’s latest album, Thoughts and Prayers. Just when I thought a joke was done, he flipped it on its head and made it even better, time after time. It’s dark and it’s edgy, which is what you expect from Anthony. But the final 15 minutes of this album should probably be required listening for any comedy fan as we slide into a social media dominated world in 2017. I don’t want too much away but it’s a pitch perfect example of a comedian that’s not afraid to say something important while not forgetting to be funny.
Thoughts and Prayers is a white garlic pie with stuffed crust. Sprinkle on some hot peppers for a little extra bite.
Kyle Kinane – Loose In Chicago
Aaron: Loose In Chicago was a pleasant surprise. I was expecting to “like his old stuff better,” but this might be Kyle’s best album so far! He’s fed up with the world’s nonsense and he’s taking hard stances on important issues like wardrobe standards for open-carry activists. Then, out of nowhere, he hits you with a joke you totally weren’t expecting. Is Kyle getting political? Nope! Just setting you up for the mild cleverness of childish joke. Kyle doesn’t care what you think and he won’t care for this review, but you should absolutely care enough to give this a listen.
The pizza rating is obvious. Loose In Chicago is a scrumptious serving of Chicago deep (but not too deep) dish pizza with the perfect mix of beef, water, salt, corn syrup, dextrose, mustard, natural flavorings and coloring, garlic juice, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, extractives of paprika, and of course, sheep casing. Yummmm! Delicious!
Deon Cole – Cole Blooded Seminar
Steve: This would be my number one album on the list if I had my way. However, I am the Robin to Aaron’s Batman, so I will sit there with my tight pants on and take his orders! Deon flowed so well on this album. I did not feel like he pre-wrote these jokes. He made you feel like they were coming straight from his head on the spot, just like the great Dave Chappelle. That is what stand-up comedy is at its best. I genuinely believe Deon is a funny guy, and not some guy who can just think of clever jokes. If you want to laugh your ass off and not feel like you are listening to a staged act, this is the album for you.
Deon is so natural, give him an Organic Pie with a bottle of Hennessey to sip down all the Swag.
Gary Gulman – It’s About Time
Aaron: “You can still call them. Did you know that 411 is still in business? They’re not expecting your call.” – Gary Gulman
I bet you haven’t thought about 411 for many moons. Don’t worry, Gary Gulman is doing the heavy lifting for you on his album It’s About Time. He goes deeper on topics than most comedians are willing or able to. Every word is carefully chosen to put the pieces of a comedy puzzle together. Plus, he lets you know that it’s cool to be curious and a gentle soul.
It’s About Time gets 4.5 delicious garlic knots on the pizza scale. Get a slice of his other album No Can Defend while you’re at it.
Michael Somerville – No Sudden Movements
Steve: WOOOWZAAAAAA. This album was GOLD.
His stand-up reminds me a good amount of Jim Gaffigan with a touch of Brian Regan. He has a lot of clean jokes on here, and they are all very funny.
There is no boring air on here and every word counts.Give the man a pie. A FULL PLAIN PIE THAT IS APPEALING TO ALL AND JUST RIGHT.
Andy Fiori – Plan B
He works with us, so we can’t be accused of insider trading. However, Andy’s album is really good and you should buy it.
John Moses – Upper Middle Trash
You’d be pressed to find a more brutally honest, fearless comedian.
Aparna Nancherla – Just Putting it Out There
She’s playful. She’s silly. She’s also really damn funny.
We hope you enjoyed our list and that you’ll go support these comedians when they’re in your town or buy an album. To find out how the albums ranked and who will be crowned the Ultimate Comedy Champion, listen to the special on Raw Dog (Ch. 99) at 3 p.m. ET on Dec. 26, with replays throughout the week.
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