Five Comedy Albums that Changed My Life

Pin it

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

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.