Stand-Up Tuesdays is a weekly comedy spotlight written by the wonderfully talented Angie Frissore. Covering both known and unknown comics, Stand-up Tuesdays is your new source for all things funny. This week, Angie puts a spotlight on the top ten comedy specials of 2014. If you or your comedy troupe would like to be featured on Stand-Up Tuesdays, please email email@example.com.
As we bid farewell to 2014, it’s time to take a look back at the comedy specials released and gather together the top ten specials that tickled our funny bone the most.
This past year saw the emergence of more unique methods of filming and presenting comedic material, making it even more difficult to determine which specials make the list. Let’s take a look at which comedians put out the best specials of 2014!
10. Tommy Johnagin, Stand Up Comedy 3
2014 saw the release of comedian Tommy Johnagin’s third album, aptly titled Stand Up Comedy 3, which rounds out the hilarity trifecta from one of the most likable comics performing today. Johnagin delights as the boy-next-door with the best of intentions, who sometimes misses the mark and is comfortable enough with himself to be open to being hit on by gay men. Mastering the skill of mining his own life (particularly as a father) for unique material, Tommy Johnagin makes the list by being that energenic and engaging funnyman you just want to surround yourself with.
9. Dan St. Germain, Bad at the Good Times
One of the highlights of this past year, for me, was the release of Dan St. Germain’s debut album, Bad at the Good Times. With his own episode of Comedy Central’s The Half Hour under his belt and appearances on dozens of podcasts and late night shows, the anticipation of St. Germain’s first release was rewarded with a solid, creative debut effort. Balancing absurdity with substance, St. Germain opens up about his battle with depression and substance abuse in a most endearing way, as he expertly doles out his well-seasoned lemonade he’s fashioned out of life’s lemons. Add to that the delightfully clever introduction and finale, featuring comedian Joe DeRosa, and Bad at the Good Times is an amazingly strong first release from a very talented comedian.
8. Maronzio Vance, Laughmatic
2014 was a banner year for Rooftop Comedy, who seemed to have the golden touch when it came to selecting comedians for its releases – and Maronzio Vance is certainly at the top of that list. Vance’s debut album, Laughmatic, is a brilliant hour of comedy, offering the comedian’s unique take on society. His stage presence and delivery are incredibly laid back, defying the razor-sharp wit that lies beneath his calm demeanor, resulting in an almost effortless performance that has you hooked from the start. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Vance has up his sleeve for 2015.
7. Hannibal Burress, Live from Chicago
It seems that there’s nothing Hannibal Burress does that isn’t awesome, and his 2014 release, Live from Chicago, is no exception. Taking on a slightly more energetic attitude than his previous special, Buress delights his hometown crowd with his trademark style of slightly silly, yet poignant material. The New York Times praises Buress as having an “irresistible” comedic presence that lands squarely between “cerebral and swagger,” and this is clear to see in Live from Chicago. One viewing and you’ll want to hold your own five-person parade through the streets of New Orleans immediately.
6. Jerrod Carmichael, Love at the Store
I immediately fell in love with Jerrod Carmichael upon viewing his debut special, Love at the Store, because, well, it was taped at the Comedy Store. As a lover of stand-up, nothing represents the intimate feel of a comedy club more than a comic taping his special at one, and Carmichael absolutely rocks during his. The one-time opener for Daniel Tosh owns his audience with his laid-back style, mainly due to his strength as a public speaker. He is able to capture their attention without even telling a joke, as he clearly understands the fundamentals of being a strong orator – ultimately allowing him to create a level of trust with his audience that is often lacking in other comedy specials. Add to that Carmichael’s brilliant and sharp sense of humor, and he is clearly poised to be comedy’s next rising star.
5. Dave Attell, Road Work
It was really exciting to see Dave Attell in his new special this past year, as he’s long been a favorite comedian of mine. His 2014 release, Road Work, was a long-awaited special, shot in multiple comedy clubs with multiple cameras, making it one of the most unique releases of the year. Timed with the premiere of Comedy Central’s Comedy Underground with Dave Attell, Road Work offers Attell’s sharply clever, somewhat filthy brand of comedy, with the comedian even promising his audiences that they are in for “a filthy, dirty mess of a show.” Attell enlists the help of various audience members holding cameras to create a guerilla-style comedy special, and it’s one that fans won’t soon forget. It’s great to see Attell back in top form, and here’s to hoping we get to see more of him this coming year.
4. Jackie Kashian, This Will Make an Excellent Horcrux
Jackie Kashian was one of the few comedians in 2014 who actually made me laugh so hard I cried with her special, This Will Make an Excellent Horcrux. As the host of the podcast “The Dork Forest,” it should be no surprise that the title of Kashian’s special is an homage to one of her dorky loves, but overall, you don’t have to be a dork to enjoy it. Kashian has a warmth and magnetism about her that immediately draws you in, leaving you eager to hear more. It might be that she’s not only the girl next door, she’s the mom next door: “This is not a cougar; this is not a MILF. This is a lady who makes a hell of a pot roast. If you miss your mom, I’ll hug you.”
3. Chelsea Peretti, One of the Greats
We finally got to see a softer (and more insecure) side of comedian Chelsea Peretti with her recent Netflix release, One of the Greats, and it was absolutely delightful. The sharp-tongued comedian presented one of the more unique specials of the year, combining her live performance with various staged tidbits ranging from dogs and babies in the audience to herself, backstage, dressed as a clown. Peretti presents her insecurities and vulnerabilities for all to see, while at the same time offering her brand of scathing social commentary and hilarious self-deprecation. Even her ending is brilliantly unique, as she closes with her entire audience having ‘fallen asleep’ instead of applauding her. One of the Greats definitely changed my perception of Peretti, and I applaud her courage in presenting herself in such a fashion.
2. Tammy Pescatelli, Finding the Funny
Timing is everything, both on and off stage, and if it weren’t for the late-to-the-game release by Bill Burr recently, comedian Tammy Pescatelli definitely would have taken my top spot with her wonderful special, Finding the Funny. Pescatelli is a wildly charismatic performer, whose stage presence feels more like a long-lost friend updating you on her misadventures than it does a performance. She knows you; she knows how to make you laugh, and she doesn’t stop from start to finish. Finding the Funny is by far one of the most entertaining and memorable of 2014, and Pescatelli is a comedic force to be reckoned with.
1. Bill Burr, I’m Sorry You Feel That Way
Oh, Bill Burr…you’ve certainly done it this time. The comedian recently released his new Netflix special, I’m Sorry You Feel That Way, and it instantly went down in the annals of history as one of the most perfect comedic performances ever. It’s been said that Burr doesn’t necessarily sit down and write his whole sets, but tends to do more on-the-spot riffing – something that is not easy to accomplish consistently. Burr’s energy is simply unmatched as he goes off about men having to be reminded not to hit women, growing up Catholic and having to go to church every Sunday, and much, much more. He’s more than at home on stage, riffing with such effortless expertise that one simply cannot overlook just how talented he is. Since its release, I’ve heard many a comic muse about giving up comedy as Burr had just won the game – and that’s not something that happens very often. It’s no wonder Burr was named Stand-Up Comedian of the Year by Just For Laughs this past summer in Montreal – I mean, isn’t he?