Five Comedy Albums that Changed My Life

Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and other icons who inspired today's stand-up.

By Marc Maron

Marc Maron, host of the popular podcast WTF with Marc Maron, is a comedian's comedian. Over the course of his career, he's made countless TV and appearances and toured the country doing stand-up. On his current show, he brings on other comedians for interviews to discuss their craft and, of course, joke around. We sat down with Marc and asked him to name the five comedy albums that had the biggest impact on his career, his life, and his sense of humor.

Class Clown, George Carlin

This album changed my life. When we were kids, my little brother and I listened to it over and over, again. I had some of it memorized. It was dirty too. The fact that we were listening to it — and that our mom didn't know — was spectacular.

Wanted: Live in Concert, Richard Pryor

I saw this movie when I was in high school, and it was like a cathartic religious experience. I went to a midnight showing with my best friend, Dave, at the Coronado Theaters in Albuquerque, NM and we left different people — we were still laughing and repeating jokes all the way home. I was fifteen, and that night I knew I wanted to be a standup.

Stand Up Comic, Woody Allen

When I got hold of this album, I was in high school. I had seen all of Woody Allen’s movies, and so it was a mind-blower for me. The fact that Woody Allen used to have a secret life as a comic was awe-inspiring. The comic beats in “The Vodka Ad” and “The Moose” still make me laugh.

Live at Carnegie Hall, Lenny Bruce

By the time I heard about Lenny Bruce, he was long dead. But I knew he was important, so I started buying as many albums as I could find. For the life of me, I couldn't figure him out – what was funny, why, and who he was. It took me years to put him into historical context and to understand not only his material and style, but also why he mattered.

Louder Than Hell, Sam Kinison

I knew Sam — and I didn’t like him — when I first heard his stuff years ago. The fact that, today, this is a record I still play occasionally is a testament to his voice. There was really nothing like it before or since. This is deep aggressive shit laid down by a very angry clown; it’s a life-and-style changer.

Commentarium (19 Comments)

Oct 01 10 - 11:34am

great insight from a great comic.

Oct 01 10 - 12:08pm
Marc Maron

These were important to me too:
Dangerous - Bill Hicks
Lets Get Small - Steve Martin
Inside Shelly Berman - Shelly Berman
The Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart - Bob Newhart
Bill Cosby is a Very Funny Fellow, Right - Bill Cosby
Los Cochinos - Cheech and Chong
Comedy Minus One - Albert brooks

Oct 01 10 - 1:20pm

Man, you're old school. Shoulders of giants, right?

Oct 01 10 - 3:58pm

"Let's Get Small" is an all-time classic. IT SAYS SOCKET, NOT SPROCKET!

And, going back even further, "The Wit and Wisdom of Andy Griffith" is an old-timey gem from a master.

Oct 01 10 - 4:29pm

There was a great Saturday Night Live album I would listen to and laugh hard at when I was a kid. I remember Gilda Radner best.

Oct 01 10 - 4:29pm

Shelly Berman is very underrated, nice call Marc.

Oct 01 10 - 4:30pm

I remember floor wax and dessert toppings.

Oct 01 10 - 4:42pm

Marc, Jerusalem Syndrome was fucking brilliant, I saw it three times.

Oct 01 10 - 5:39pm

Kinison is VASTLY overrated. He just screeches bullshit and is insanely misogynistic. I feel like Hicks did that schtick about eight kragillion times better.

Oct 02 10 - 6:50am

Simply discovered your web page through Yahoo and I consider this can be a disgrace that you are not ranked higher due to the fact that that is a Great post. To switch this I determined to avoid wasting your Site to my RSS reader and I will try to point out you in one of my posts since you actually deserv extra readers when publishing content material of this high quality.

Oct 02 10 - 9:06am

Also will like this site are the American foxes, who like bulge in pants and black soul man, it is not drag to read this site which leads to much swinging and crusing in tight slacks and birth control from Statue of Liberty, long live Nerve and American foxes!

Oct 02 10 - 9:49am

Denis Leary's "No Cure For Cancer". It was my first real exposure to the genre, and still one that gets listened to on drives.

Oct 02 10 - 7:44pm
oh goody

A chance to tell the best Denis Leary joke there is: "Why is Denis Leary famous while no one knows who Bill Hicks is? Because there's No Cure For Cancer!"

To this day Leary pretends that he didn't rip Hicks off wholesale, when you can ask anyone in the business in the 80s/90s what happened and they all say the same thing - Leary is a thief.

Oct 03 10 - 1:40pm

Wild Bill Hicks should have been the one on The Simpsons.

Oct 05 10 - 11:07am

What a show of comedians. I can honestly say they've certainly changed my outlook... Off to the charity shop now :)

Oct 07 10 - 11:23am

Marc - Los Cochinos by Cheech and Chong - severely underrated. Glad to see you are giving them props. When I was listening to them I didn't even smoke dope and I laughed my ass off regularly.

Oct 07 10 - 12:41pm

Albert Brooks - A Star is Bought; Robert Klein - Child of the 50's, Mind Over Matter and New Teeth

Oct 07 10 - 4:46pm

why's no one mentioned Derek and Clive?

Oct 09 10 - 8:15pm

Yesterday I told my therapist how much I relate to the intro track and "Fine" on Disc 1 of Final Engagement. I hope he's downloading Marc's podcast now. I told him how 2 days ago I had to toss out Aziz Anzari in favor of Final Engagement. No comparison.