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Spit Take Saturday: The Best Comedy Releases of 2012 – The year heartfelt comedy melted our steely tickers

Comedy >

notaro.jpeg.CROP.article250-mediumWelcome to Spit Take Saturday, courtesy of Brown Paper Tickets’ Comedy Doer Julie Seabaugh and her professional comedy criticism site The Spit Take. Julie’s goal with the site is to “elevate the public perception of stand-up comedy to that of a legitimate art form, and to enable comedy criticism be taken as seriously as that of theater, film, music, food, even video games. No a**-kissing. No bias. No mercy. Just honest, unfiltered, long-form reviews written by professional, knowledgeable comedy critics.” 

Every week Julie will select an entry from the site to be included on our blog and hand-pick some related events happening that week that she feels all you comedy lovers out there will appreciate.

So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this week’s Spit Take Saturday!


1. Tig Notaro, “Live”

There is a way to make everything funny. Everything. And there is no finer example of this concept than Tig Notaro’s accidental comedy gem—an album recorded from a set at Largo that the owner just so happened to tape. Having recently received a cancer diagnosis, Notaro is honest in a way that’s not only inspiring for other comedians, but for everyone hoping to face problems head on. Notaro does so with immeasurable grace and wit, letting the world know that comedy is her armor, and that truth in comedy isn’t just a catchy phrase, it’s a goddamn prerequisite.

2. Kyle Kinane, “Whiskey Icarus”

Kyle Kinane is the world’s finest Kyle Kinane observational comic. He mines his gleeful, disturbing impulses and the resulting happenstance—ordering pizza so many times he receives one completely unsliced, taking a cab through a Wendy’s drive-thru—for every absurd, dark comedy gem. His clairvoyance and willingness to mock himself makes “Whiskey Icarus” sparkle.

3. Patrice O’Neal, “Mr. P”

Released shortly after his sudden passing, “Mr. P” is an excellent distillation of what made Patrice O’Neal so magnetic. His honesty is unparalleled, even if doesn’t come across to some as politically correct, and his command of the room is palpable even from simply listening at home.

4. John Mulaney, “New in Town”

John Mulaney is a clown who sees fellow clowns everywhere he goes—on the streets of New York, at the doctor’s office, Ice-T on “Law & Order: SVU.” And because he’s a clown himself, he’s eager to delve into these equally clownish minds and see what makes them tick. “New In Town” is an expert sociological case study of the goofballs who make our days all the more entertaining.

5. Louis C.K., “Live at the Beacon Theater”

We all know who Louis C.K. is, either via his many spectacular albums or his wonderful television show. But “Live at the Beacon Theater” showcases the rest of the cast, so to speak. C.K. fleshes out the characterizations of his daughters, the kid at their school he hates and all other manner of the people orbiting this man, capable of turning these interactions into tales of humility and ego, heartbreak and heartfelt-ness. There are two sides to many of C.K.’s thoughts, and this year we got to know everyone involved.

6. Jim Gaffigan, “Mr. Universe”

Nobody can break down the absurdity of the everyday quite like Jim Gaffigan. He’s a master of finding a hundred thousand funny things about something as ubiquitous as McDonald’s—then just when you think he’s done, he’s got more. “Mr. Universe” is one of Gaffigan’s finest pieces of work, taking his observations to their next logical conclusion—thus a rant about McDonald’s becomes about junk food culture in general. Gaffigan inserts himself into the conversation masterfully, and his material thanks him for it.

7. Hannibal Buress, “Animal Furnace”

“Animal Furnace” is Hannibal Buress at his most comfortable on stage. He reads an article from a school paper knowing full well it’s a self-fulfilling bit, but confident the audience will come along with him. He tells stories about touring, touting his modest fame, again trusting the audience. He’s effortlessly charismatic, but his writing hasn’t suffered. It’s stronger than ever—on his pages, vomit can be channeled into a hadouken and apple juice is the end-all, be-all worthy of conquering racism. And he’s only going to get better.

8. The Apple Sisters, “1943”

This is musical comedy as it should be. On “1943,” The Apple Sisters play with different rhythms, both comedically and musically. One cannot exist without the other, and that interplay is the source of great conceptual humor. They sing about tapeworms, creepy Vegas dudes and “Handsome Coffee Roasters,” each track containing enough craft and cleverness to make “1943” a captivating listen.

9. Paul F. Tompkins, “Laboring Under Delusions”

Paul F. Tompkins has always been a masterful storyteller, but he truly shines on “Laboring Under Delusions,” the grand saga of how his past jobs led him to the comedy business. Tales about his video-clerk days are rich with details that unfold and wrap around each other like a children’s pop-up book. Plus, he worked in a hat store, but focuses his entire bit on people’s insistence on trying on the crown—or as they call it, “the King Hat.” Tompkins is adept at the minutia and the big picture, and “Laboring” is truly his labor of love.

10. T.J. Miller, “Mash Up AudioFile”

Few comics are as absurd as T.J. Miller, but then again few comics could get away with it. Where the world sees a guy with an eye patch under glasses, Miller sees a wasted opportunity to wear a monocle—and he says it with such delight that it’s impossible not to share in that insanity. Far better than last year’s rap album, it captures his multimedia-saturated, freak-show view of the world.

By Steve Heisler

Follow @SpitTakeComedy on Twitter or Like us on Facebook.


Looking to ring in the New Year with a comedy show? Some great options from top talent:

Friday, December 28 to Monday, December 31 I Lizz Winstead’s “The Long And Binding Road: 2012 In Review”Minneapolis, Minnesota  Our long national nightmare is over!! Or is it just beginning?  Whatever the answer, Minneapolis’s own Lizz Winstead returns to Pepito’s Parkway Theatre with her annual look back at the year, an amazing satirical barnstorming she is calling,  “The Long And Binding Road: 2012 In Review” When you add a presidential election into a year in review, it truly becomes an evening of comedy on steroids. 2012 was the mother of all years, so due to overwhelming demand, Lizz has added shows AND will take to the stage solo, no opening acts, no MC no cops! It’s a 90 minute full frontal assault that breaks down the insanity of this year as only Lizz can, reminding us, if we don’t keep laughing, we may never stop crying! Lizz always takes on hypocrisy with a brilliant razor sharp wit, hitting all the big targets. From the clown car of candidates, birth control to binders, nothing, and no one is exempt from a humorous jab. If you are looking for an hilarious perspective on all the madness that made up 2012, then Lizz Winstead is the much needed catharsis you are looking for.

Wednesday, December 26 to Tuesday, January 1 PAUL MOONEY  – NEW YEARS EVE BLACK MAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE – ‘THE SECOND TERM TOUR’ – Berkeley, California  Writer, Grammy-nominated comedian and actor Paul Mooney pulls no punches as he puts history and the presidential election and OBAMA’S VICTORY in his sharpened, sardonic sights. Drawn from a career with beginnings as a circus ringmaster and leading to years of acclaim as a comedy writer, Mooney’s words have been spoken by Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx and the cast of the hit TV show “In Living Color.” You might also be familiar with his blistering work on “Chappelle’s Show” and his stand-up act that skewers tender subjects. In “Black Man in the White House-The Second Term Tour,” he offers hilarious insight into where we are currently in our state of BLACKNESS!

Monday, December 31 The Shea Theater Presents New Year’s Eve Comedy with Myq Kaplan and Steve Macone – Turner Falls, Massachusetts  New Year’s Eve comedy at the Shea is back!  Each New Year’s Eve the Shea Theater features some of the best national comedians and this year they are featuring the incredibly smart and sharp-witted humor of Myq Kaplan and the clever observational humor of Steve Macone  Myq Kaplan made his network television debut on “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien” and has since gone on to appear on “Late Show with David Letterman,” “Conan,” “The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson” and in his own half-hour “Comedy Central Presents: Myq Kaplan” special. He was a Top 5 finalist on Last Comic Standing 2010. Steve Macone has performed at clubs and colleges around the US, England, Ireland and Canada and appeared on Comedy Central. He was a finalist in the Boston Comedy Festival.