Caught between explosive growth in the number of comedy podcasts and the greater accessibility of stand-up specials on video streaming services like Netflix, SeeSo, HBO Go and YouTube, it’s become almost too easy to forget about the humble comedy album and its hour of carefully crafted material finely honed over the course of dozens if not hundreds of live shows. Yet, there’s a special magic in being able to infuse your commute (who are we kidding – your daily traffic jam) with some comic relief.
Whether you’re a long-time comedy fan or looking to dip your toe in new waters, the last couple of months have served up a number of top-notch albums from ladies who bat for your team including household name Tig Notaro, rising star Rhea Butcher and alt-comedy stalwart DeAnne Smith.
Between her new sitcom One Mississippi, autobiography, Netflix documentary and multiple appearances on Ellen, Tig Notaro and her unique brand of deadpan personal reflection has been everywhere lately. Boyish Girl Interrupted, released in August on Secretly Canadian Records and taken from her Emmy-nominated HBO special of the same name released last year, is her most polished album to-date.
For a comic whose big break came on the back of a horrendous year that saw her survive a C diff. infection only to lose her mum, break up with her then-partner, and get diagnosed with breast cancer, Boyish Girl Interrupted finds a balance between the lightheaded laughs on which she staked her early career (such as a bit about hiring a Santa Claus) and her more recent sojourns into dark comedy (sales aren’t just for clothes and grocery items). Even those who have seen Boyish Girl Interrupted will find the album worth a listen, if for no other reason than the way Notaro’s signature pacing really shines without the visual distraction.
Rhea Butcher’s Butcher (Kill Rock Stars) is one of the best comedy albums of the year and its place at the top of the iTunes chart at time of release is very much deserved. Though many of her most prominent roles, including as host of the ‘Put Your Hands Together’ podcast and, most recently as a lead in Seeso original Take My Wife, have seen her serving (rather ironically) as the ‘straight man’ next to more-established wife Cameron Esposito, Butcher leaves no doubt that it’s only a matter of time before Butcher’s a household name in her own right.
Never preachy, Butcher tackles gender identity, sexual orientation and vegetarianism with frequently sarcastic observational wit. She’s both effortlessly cool and as relatable as your next-door neighbour, leaving everyone in the audience wondering whether they want to be her best friend or simply be her.
Compared with Notaro’s deadpan and Butcher’s subtlety, DeAnne Smith is the class clown, demanding the audience’s attention immediately rather than winning it over slowly over the course of the first few jokes. More biting than her more established peers, Smith knows her audience and plays to it expertly. Tell it to My Balls (Little Man Legs), her first album, showcases Smith’s ability to combine clever reflection on the overconfidence of mediocre white male comics with humour crude enough to make Amy Schumer shudder. Her album’s not for the overly prudish, but if you’re looking for an honest take on the challenge of being a lesbian feminist, this album might be for you.
You can find these albums here:
- Boyish Girl Interrupted [https://www.secretlystore.com/boyish-girl-interrupted-tig-notaro]
- Butcher [http://www.killrockstars.com/artists/rhea-butcher]
- Tell it to My Balls [https://open.spotify.com/album/5MFLqd3GvJqSK8ryGXl32n]