Heard the one about the omer?
My family has almost no minhagim due to my parents being the first to become frum in about four generations, so what we do keep is mostly taken from the person who was mekarev them. I kinda lucked out, as he kept three hours after meat (me and the other guy who held three hours in Yeshiva would torture everyone else by celebrating the end of night sefer with a tub of Ben & Jerrys Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Very cruel in retrospect.) and was otherwise decently lenient, or at least mainstream, on most things. I.E. Opening bottles on Shabbos. For some reason I also have a double daled on my teffilin. I still have no idea why.
Anyways, for the seasonal things we never had a real answer as to what we held, in this case, listening to recorded music on sefirah. My dad who loves his seventies music does listen to his iPod, while my mother who’s always been the more “religious” won’t. I used to bounce back and forth on this issue for a bit usually not listening, because that’s what most people did. A couple summers ago I resolved not to listen to any music. I also resolved to make the whole omer with a brocha. What a miserable failure that was. I’ve still never managed it. It’s just too strict, forget and you’re done. Problem is omer falls out during finals season, so lots of late nights means I may not get a maariv minyan.
That summer started off as the longest summer of my life. I was driving a lot and no music while driving is a killer, and Rush Limbaugh, as hilarious as he is, just can’t fill that void. Until I discovered comedy albums. I borrowed a bunch that summer and still have most of them ripped onto my Zune to this day. So here’s my list of the best comedy to make your omer go faster.
Dennis Miller – The Off-White Album
It’s old, from 1988, but Dennis has a great style that makes it timeless. His flow is fantastic and what I love about it is his vocabulary; “Gregarious, Bouillabaisse” he’s not afraid to alienate the crowd, word-wise.
Sample: “Got up early this morning. Had breakfast at the International House of Pancakes. Yeah, soon as you walk into the place there’s that distinct worldwide feel. I was baffled by the complex international menu, so I just had the flapjack du jour. My syrup steward helped me with the selection. I chose a very dry maple, it was busy but never precocious.”
It’s very old though. Jokes about the Gabor sisters, the kids from “Fame”… I don’t get it.
Robin Williams – Live At The Met
Most people love his far more recent “Live on Broadway” but this classic from the 80’s is where it’s at.
Sure, you’ve got the dated jokes about Reagan, but I like it for the historical view. Apparently Reagan was viewed the same way Bush is today. There’s enough jokes about him being a puppet on strings to drive the point home. This is Robin in classic ADHD mode. It’s like Mork is talking for 50 minutes. Yes, I think he was never better than as Mork. Mrs Doubtfire gives it a run for the money though.
Sample: “I like beer commercials. Manly men, doing manly things. You’ve just killed a small helpless animal! It’s time for a light beer. Why don’t they make realistic beer commercials? It’s 4am and you’ve just pissed on a dumpster. It’s Miller Time!”
And his long bit about alcohol and drugs is simply fantastic!
Disclaimer: Don’t listen with the parents or kids. He curses a lot.
Mitch Hedburg – Strategic Grill Locations
Mitch was the king of one liner jokes. There’s no rants or stories here. Just one ridiculous line after the other with no continuity. This is his first CD, and it shows. His flow is not smooth and polished, but it works for him, makes the show more intimate somehow, like he’s just talking off the cuff as opposed to the smooth rote of some shows. He runs out of material towards the end though, the last few minutes are just him rambling and repeating some of the best jokes.
Sample: “I haven’t slept for ten days… because that would be too long.”; “My apartment is infested with Koala Bears. It’s the cutest infestation ever! Way better than cockroaches! When I turn on the light, a bunch of Koala Bears scatter.”
Disclaimer: He also swears alot.
Mitch Hedburg – Mitch All Together
Mitch was way more polished and confident here. The jokes are better and flow throughout. RIP man.
Sample: “I like re-fried beans. That’s why I want to try fried beans. Maybe they’re just as good and we’re wasting time.”; “I asked the receptionist at the front desk for her number and she gave it to me! It’s “0”. I called her from here and some other woman answered! I said you sound older.“; “I saw this wino eating grapes. I said, dude, you have to wait.”
Disclaimer: Same as before.
Jim Gaffigan – Beyond The Pale
Jim has a unique style that centers around him talking as though he’s an audience member watching his show and making observations on himself. It’s all good, except for his massive bit on Hot Pockets which goes on waaaay too long. And to add insult, he does the exact same thing on his other CD, which makes you feel ripped off. I don’t like paying for the same jokes, especially if they weren’t that funny the first time around.
Still, I recommend this one. It’s very good the first time you hear it, but unlike Mitch Hedburg it doesn’t manage to be timeless. Most of his jokes are about food and being fat and pale.
Sample: “We’re a nation that loves our food. We’re never satisfied when it comes to food. You know what would be good on this burger? A ham sandwich! But instead of a bun we’ll use two doughnuts! That way we can have it for breakfast! Look out McGriddle, here comes the doughnut-ham-hamburger! You guys laugh, but you know there’s someone at Dunkin Donuts going: that’s not a bad idea! And we could have a diet-ham-hamburger. For the variety.”
Brian Regan – Live From Pleasure Island
I have this recording from somewhere but I don’t think it’s an official CD. Brian centers on faux-pas on society and his childhood as a dumb kid. I listen to this several times a year. It’s always good. He does have an official CD which I plan on getting. Maybe even his DVD.
Sample: “The spelling bee. That’s where it all went wrong for me. There’s a great idea for kids. Hey kids, up against the wall, its time for public humiliation in front of your friends. Spell a word wrong and sit down in front of everyone. That’s great for little kids egos. Wow, I wasn’t even close. I was using numbers and stuff.”
You have to get this for the spelling bit alone. Since it’s a bootleg I’ll upload it if anyone wants.
Woody Allen – The Nightclub Years
Woody is probably my all time favorite comedian and his stand up is no less brilliant than his books and films.
His stuff is mostly long stories and therefore I can’t provide a sample without running through much of the skit. Trust me though, it’s excellent.