COMEDY!


This page is now split into TWO sections for faster loading!!! The links'll get you where you need to go...
Don't forget to check out the enticing sound bites below which take NO TIME AT ALL TO LOAD 'cos they're RealAudio! Then go out and buy the albums!

NEW!
We're now a member of the Firesign Theatre Webring! Check it out!

Audio

-Note that Jeff Foxworthy is NOT on this list. That is because he is NOT funny. He has one joke. In fact, if you like Jeff Foxworthy, you just might happen to be a.....well, you can probably figure it out. If you can't, GOOD FOR YOU! You're safe...

Video

-Note that only two of these groups are American. The rest are either British or Canadian. Could it be that Americans don't no funny from feces? Could be... if you saw the pilot of Red Dwarf created for the American market, you'd see how silly the rest of the world thinks we are... and how stupid our humor is. Two words: Three's Company. Not funny. Stupid.



Denis Leary

Well, see, Denis is just kinda this guy, you know! I don't know much about him, apart from the fact that he used to teach some kind of course on how to do stand up. Then he started working with Ted Demme, did some MTV ads that were pretty cool, ended up doing House of Style with Cindy Crawford once, and went on to do films. Within the space of a year he did a bunch - the Sandlot, Demolition Man, Judgment Night, and (probably the best of the bunch,) Ted Demme's the Ref. His album, No Cure for Cancer, is truly great. Split between music and a full set of standup, you will laugh (unless you get offended easily, in which case you should NOT be here.) The album opens up with what should have been the theme song for both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.... Asshole. If you listen to the lyrics, you should know someone like that. Then commences the standup, which is really great, non-filtered fun on drugs, the seventies, America, and (of course) smoking. Brutally true... and no band-aids are handed out. The biggest surprise of the album is the last song, Voices in my Head. I'm just sad that it didn't get any airplay (apart from me, that is.) It's radio friendly, legal, and just a great song. The lyrics are funny, the music is better than most of the garbage coming out over the airwaves today. In all, I'd have to say that this is my favorite comedy album released in the '90s. Buy it (or the videotape from the Showtime special.)

Late in 1997, he released his second album, Lock and Load. Shocking, but I don't yet own it, nor have I seent he cable special he did for it. He was also in the film the Suicide Kings with Christopher Walken. Right on!


George Carlin

A legend. Probably one of the best known standup comedians with one of the longest careers in this business. He's been on a bunch of record labels and put out albums of varying quality. His best stuff is from the early to mid-'70s. Class Clown and Occupation: Foole are real classics. FM & AM and Toledo Window Box are right behind these. An Evening with Wally Londo... and On the Road are also quite good. He starts to flag with A Place for my Stuff. Avoid Killer Carlin... not very good. His albums from the late '80s, Playing with your Head and What Am I Doing in New Jersey? are great in their own right, but you get the sense that Carlin is doing an act rather than just being naturally funny, a manner which he perfected in the '70s with a very laid back presentation. He wasn't trying...he was just funny. For those of you who can't find the vinyl and are above buying cassettes (I don't blame you on that last one...) there is Carlin on CD! I suggest picking up Classic Gold, which contains the aforementioned Class Clown, Occupation: Foole, and FM & AM. It's a double disc set and fairly reasonably priced. It is also one of the finest collections of humor ever recorded. He's done movies and had a show on FOX that...was not good. He still performs. See him.


Lenny Bruce

If Carlin is a legend, Bruce is a god. Every standup that utters a 'foul' word owes this man his career. He over-stepped every boundary, broke every 'law', and pissed off more people than you should care to know. He got arrested. He got beat up. He got black listed. He was not well liked by the law. But he did it all for a reason. He tried to break down cultural barriers in the early '60s, breaking through the racism that was inherent from our culture and that was being slowly broken down. One of his routines was to overuse racial and ethnic slurs in an attempt to dispel their mysticism. His idea was that if we all used these words constantly and got used to using them we could get away from the negative connotations with which we have learned to associate them. Unfortunately he couldn't convince the law of this. He was ruined by legal pressures which preoccupied and consumed him to the point that he would simply recite his court transcripts during his 'routines.' Some people didn't think it was funny. He has four of his original albums released on Fantasy Records with two albums per CD. There are also several live concerts out, one of which was produced by one Frank Zappa. The film Lenny, starring Dustin Hoffman in the title role, is worth watching. I'm not sure how true it all is, but it's supposedly fairly accurate. Bruce's book, How to Talk Dirty and Influence People (a play on the title of Dale Carnegie's historic best seller) is a good read and gives you some idea of where he came from. Truly a great.


Emo Phillips

Oh, if only more people knew of him, the world would be a safer place. Emo has the fashion sense of your average transient and the hairstyle of a '60s monk, is one of the most original comics I've ever heard. He has two albums out: E=MOsquared, and Live at the Hasty Pudding Theatre. The latter appeared at one time on HBO and should be floating around somewhere on video. He has a tremendous imagination, as reflected by this list of some of his lines. Self-depreciating humor abounds, as well as a generally twisted take on life and the way people take it so literally, to form the basis for this man's humor. He, unlike the previous three comics, does not attempt to shock or attack you with life's stupidities, but rather prods you gently into his world with statements that may take you a second to figure out. Very clever, but not extremely high-brow humor...kind of an Americanized take of British humor. He really is great. Seek out his tapes and buy them. Steal them. Copy them. I don't care, just listen to them. Then send Emo a check with a thank you letter. He deserves it He can also be seen in "Weird Al" Yankovic's movie UHF as the guy who cuts his hand up. He was also featured on an episode of Miami Vice (remember that show?) that also debuted Phil Collins as an actor in the U.S. And most recently, he has been on Dr. Katz (shown on Comedy Central!!!)

Here's a nifty thing... He came to my town! He did several comedy shows! I saw him! I met him! I got his autograph! I shook his hand! He's a cool guy! He also has tremendous fashion sense... He performed wearing an absolutely stunning suit... well...

Since I now have his autograph and a picture of him, I have to put that up here so you can see it. I also recently heard from our favorite humorous vertebrate and it appears that he might just get his shot at Space Ghost Coast to Coast!!! For the meantime, however, here's a way that you can find out the latest about EMO!


the Loyal Order of Emo-Philiacs
PO Box 359
Downers Grove, IL 60515








Steven Wright

Better known than Emo, but of the same ilk, Wright is immediately recognizable. The most dead-pan performer of all time, he sounds like he's hit the stage with a bottle of valium mixed with NyQuil. But he whips out unforgettable one-liners and two sentence short stories that beg to be repeated in his unmistakeable manner. He only released one album, I Have a Pony, and that is out of print as far as I know. You may still be able to turn up a copy on cassette or maybe vinyl, but whatever you find will be worth owning. HBO had at least two comedy specials featuring Wright, but I have NO idea whether they're available on video. Wright has also popped up in several films. Most notable of these is in Natural Born Killer where he has a twenty second snippet as a shrink. (Oddly enough, Denis Leary also had a part in this film. It was cut out of the theatrical run, but can be seen in the Director's Cut apparently.) While it's good to see him, Wright is not quite so effective in film...most of the time. In Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, however, he is used perfectly. You never see him, but his voice clearly identifies him as the DJ on KBLY. A nice touch, I think. There are Steven Wright pages all over the web featuring his one-liners and statements. If you've not heard Wright, check it out. Trust me: you're not missing much in so far as performance is concerned...just try to read it without laughing and you'll get the idea.


Bob Newhart

You probably first heard of this guy from his sitcoms on television (well, with a show named Newhart, it's pretty hard to mistake this for someone else.) What really got me to like him, though, are the albums he put out in the '60s. He got his start writing for radio and eventually got pushed into stand-up...only after overcoming stage fright. From then on, he was known as "the Button Down Mind" for his dry delivery and an appearance that would pass for an accountant (which he just happened to be before becoming a comic.) He performed best as a man making or receiving a telephone call. Of course most of the humor came from trying to figure out what the other person was saying or doing, since he made it a rule to fill in the other person's lines only as he might do so in the course of a normal conversation. He set up interesting (or impossible) situations: like a phone call to the boss from the security guard of the Empire States Building... on the night that King Kong happened to be climbing it. Or a conversation between Abraham Lincoln and his press agent on how to package him for the public. Or a call from Sir Walter Raleigh in the Americas to Great Britain on the subject of tobacco. I have absolutely no clue if you can find anything from him outside of used vinyl bins at record stores and flea markets everywhere. I was lucky enough to find a CD of some of his better material while in England, but that was just total luck. If you can find anything by him, give it a chance. It's really quite good.


the Firesign Theatre

By no means less important, but far less influential or popular than Python due to the nature of their performance, the Firesign Theatre are probably as close to an American version of the Flying Circus. They eventually got into television and video only by default, but they had their start in radio. I believe they started out in California and it could be said that they subscribed somewhat to the lifestyle out there. Eventually a deal was struck with Columbia Records and they were permitted to produce an album, which became Waiting for the Electrician, or Someone Like Him. This went over-budget from what I understand and Columbia was a tad peaved, but they permitted a follow-up due to high-critical acclaim and an immediate and strong underground following. How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere At All is probably the best to start off with if you're new to the group. With this album, they pushed the redefinition of the studio for the comedy album that they began on Electrician. You have to listen to this through headphones to truly appreciate it, but it also helps to pay attention and to try not to laugh (very difficult at times) so that you can hear it all. A true masterpiece. The next album pushes the group's creativity to the next level by extending the material to fill the entire album (the two previous albums only took on a side, with How Can... loosely connecting these sides through shared material,) and thus came forth the incredible Don't Crush that Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers. What also became clear here is that the group was connecting each album to each other through vaguely noticeable instances: a phone call between Nick Danger and some unknown party on How Can... can be heard at the beginning of Dwarf from the previously unknown party's perspective. This is continued on the next album, I Think We're All Bozos on this Bus, with the ice cream truck song fading away at the end of the previous album being the intro. The albums kept coming after Bozos in varying qualities... Dear Friends is a collection of their material from their radio days. Not Insane, or Anything you Want to shows what the group were like live. My personal favorite, however, is the incredibly accessible and somewhat rare Everything You Know is Wrong. It is with this album that the group pushed their sci-fi interests to the max and combined them with conspiracy theories and the actions of mass media. If you can find it, it's DEFINITELY worth owning and playing. It's full of one liners and Firesign quotes that Fireheads use on a regular basis.

After these, quite a few were put out that were not so hot. They also did solo albums and collaborations, the only one of which I own is Proctor and Bergman's TV or Not TV. Oh... since they stopped selling albums, guess what: Columbia booted them. Their last album to be released under the Columbia contracts was In the Next World, You're On Your Own. They went on to do albums on indie labels including the difficult to find Just Folks...A Firesign Chat on Butterfly Records. Eventually Rhino picked them up for a spell, from which Fighting Clowns came about. In addition to the mutual introductions of the Firesign Theatre to the Reagan Era, this album features a cover by SNL vet and News Radio star Phil Hartman. This partnership with Rhino also led to the release of the prototype of the CDRom when the group created Eat or Be Eaten.

Sadly out of print and never reissued, I spent nearly the better part of a decade knowing only about three minutes of material from this work; however, due to a mention on this very page of this site, I was graced with a cassette copy from vinyl of this elusive work. I have to thank the kind grace of Mark F. in Hollywood for shooting me a copy. It really is great. A commentary in the distinct Firesign manner on the recreational use of computers and technology, Eat or be Eaten is years ahead of its time. It's so ironic that it's not available on CD considering the references to the technology. Hey, thanks Mark! You're the man.

Graciously, the cool people over at Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab reissued six albums on CD (the first five mentioned above and Clowns. These were, as are all of their releases, strictly limited runs. Once they're sold out, that's it. These were also, to my knowledge, some of the first non-gold disc releases by MoFi. They still remastered from the original recordings and sound incredible, though... all for the price of a normal CD. Plus they have that nifty lift-loc jewel case. (ah... it's the little things.) By taking that huge chance, MoFi introduced an entirely new generation to the genius of the Firesign Theatre, of which I am a part. And since they did this, Columbia has decided they really DO like the guys again and have released a 'greatest hits' of sorts in Shoes for Industry, a two disc set covering everything from their days with that label. A lot of this is really great stuff, and it features the only CD cuts of material from Everything. It also features the entire first ever Nick Danger, which alone is worth the cost of this specially priced set. A great way to get into them. Now, the only thing that Columbia has to do to make me REALLY happy is release Everything you Know is Wrong as a CD. Then either Rhino or MoFi can release Eat or Be Eaten and I can take my finger off the button. JUST SO YOU KNOW....

Getting back to their defaulting into TV and Video, they produced several shows either translated from audio material into performance or written specifically for the medium that were either unreleased or that didn't really see the light of day. Many of these are being reissued by small companies around the world, though. Lodestone is one such company... hats off to them. I'll provide other links as they come along or as people throw them my way. I've seen a few of them and realize why many of these are hard to find. The budgets on them are horribly low and the quality is just not good. Definitely for the fan. Oh yeah... Everything is available this way... just so you know. The album is used as the soundtrack and the group just acts their way through it all. Some of it's ok, but again, it's more for the fans. Also, for those of you hungry for Firesign Theatre stuff, they have, in the past year, worked together as a group on an episode of the Tick on FOX... I believe it is the Tick vs. Las Vegas, but I've not seen the episode. Just so you know this info is legit, it comes from an interview of Phil Proctor that I ran across while surfing about.

The Doctor - an excerpt from Beat the Reaper on Waiting for the Electrician

"I hate cops..." - an excerpt from How Can You Be in Two Places at Once...

  Visit the Firesign Theatre Webring Home
Want to join the Firesign Webring? Click Here
[ Skip Prev]  [ Prev]  [ Next]  [ Skip Next]  [ Random]  [ Next 5]  [ List Sites]


Beyond the Fringe

Oh so much of British humor owes at least a tip of the hat to this innovative group. This group introduced reasonably well knowns Dudley Moore and Peter Cook to the public eye, as well as the first appearance of now undercover Alan Bennett (who writes quite a bit in the U.K., including the critically acclaimed play-turned-film the Madness of King George.) Their humor requires a bit of intelligence and some knowledge of British culture or history in many cases, but much of their material is still accessible to the common man (much to their chagrin, I'm sure.) They were, to prove a point, very popular when they did a run on Broadway in the U.S. in 1963 and 1964. It is from these performances, in fact, that their recordings were made. One of their finest bits is a piece where they analyze America from the British perspective. Biting and accurate in many ways...at least for the '60s if not as much today... this is a really great piece. This and others might just find their way up here to tantalize and bait you into searching them out. The original company eventually broke up and the members went on to do other things, but a touring company was formed of alternative members to continue the legacy and perform the original material... sort of a 'cover band' for comedy. While finding ANYTHING by them in this country, even used, will be near impossible, they are so so so good. I believe EMI still has a double set of their material available on CD, but that's an England only import (which I, of course, own.) I did run across a tape which had Peter Cook performing some of his material from Beyond the Fringe along with some Monty Python skits which I believe may have been performed at one of the Policemen's Ball performances... but there are some things out there.

"So you think thieves are responsible?" - an excerpt from the Great Train Robbery, originally released on Beyond the Fringe on Broadway


Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks

These wicked geniuses came upon a novel idea one day after Reiner had purchased his first tape recorder. Instead of the typical 'testing...testing' to try out the recorder to see if it was working, Reiner proceeded to ask Mel Brooks about his feelings being a 2000 year old man. Brooks, being the genius that so few people have seen him to be lately, missed not a step, responding "Ohhh Boy!" and going into answers to any and all of Reiner's questions without even pausing to think. They put out three or four albums worth of this material, much of which has been reissued by Rhino. There is a four disc box set that is complete, or some of the discs can be purchased individually. It's good material by two of America's greatest classic comic geniuses that should never be forgotten. It is also worthy to note that Brooks is in such a different form here as would be seen in any of his films. He's a very bright man...something he tries to hide by making primarily locker-room humor/slap-stickish films. Of course, Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles show off this genius, but most everything else is not so revealing of his incredible mind. And Reiner... well, he's just the man. The Jerk, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, and Summer School may not be the classics that the two Brooks films are, but they are still great movies. Plus his son Rob did some ok things, too... Spinal Tap and When Harry Met Sally being two of these.

Oh go ahead! Check out the second page!!!

Just click me, baby!


updated 12 may, 1998