In the past, a stand-up comic basically had one career path: Build up some solid minutes on the club circuit, get yourself on late night TV, and hope that somebody with a check book comes calling with a sitcom deal or an HBO special. But while technology seems to be crushing a lot of other entertainment universes, it’s allowing more and more comedians to thrive thanks to podcasting, self-released albums, crowdsourced tours, easily-produced web series, and more opportunities for singular voices on risk-taking cable networks.
No matter where you like to get your yuks, it was a great year for comedy—and for pushing the envelope of what stand-up comedy could be. The albums below represent a small cross-section of the greatness that flowed from the minds of some of the most brilliant creators in entertainment today, and each one takes a wholly unique approach to the craft.
1) Tig Notaro, Live
Notaro’s Job-like narrative has been well documented, but Live (as in “Live Forever,” not Live At Red Rocks) works just as well even if you’re not intimately aware of Notaro’s health struggles. That’s how powerful and honest it is: Over the course of a half hour, she lays out her story with equal parts clinical pragmatism (her genuine insistence that the audience take probiotics whenever they are put on antibiotics) and “Can you believe this?” wonder. Notaro’s dry, deadpan style makes for quite a tightrope walk, as it’s always hard to tell whether or not she’s going to laugh or cry. The audience doesn’t know either, and that what makes Live a brilliant, thrilling listening experience. And despite all the doom and gloom, it’s also fantastically funny, like when a technician asks her what her secret to being skinny is, and she gives the gallows reply, “Oh, I’m dying.” It’s a testament to both the style and the substance of one of the best performances by anyone in any venue in 2012. READ FULL STORY