Comedy albums still sell in far fewer quantities than their musical brethren, but the two might have more in common than you think, starting with the fact that both have undergone a major vinyl resurgence in recent years. If music sounds better on a turntable, are jokes funnier, too?
When comedian Chris Gethard (whom we named one of the 50 funniest people in Brooklyn) recorded his first album, My Comedy Record last year, he released only 500 vinyl copies, but took the time to sign each one and included download codes for bonus content. “Seeing it sell out was a great surprise. The thing I liked most about doing the vinyl was I got to add art and a poster and the bonus material, and it really felt like a cool package for real fans. I got to do something more creative than just an album as a thank-you to them,” Gethard told Splitsider.
Comedy megastars à la Dane Cook have always released a portion of their records on vinyl, but in recent years it’s become increasingly popular with comics still trekking their way up to Cook-esque fame, including Mark Maron, Hannibal Burress, Aziz Ansari, and Rory Scovel, the latest of which is Jim Gaffigan’s recent (and very funny, but only if you’re already a Gaffigan fan) album Obsessed.
There are lots of reasons vinyl is having such a moment, but one of the most indisputable elements of vinyl is that, well, it’s cool. It just is. Vinyl is rare, expensive, nostalgic and a symbol of refined taste and exclusivity. Vinyl is the anti-Skrillex, with his zillion-song laptop with inexhaustible gigabytes to spare on whatever he pleases, be it good, less good, or extremely terrible music. Records are complete, carefully crafted objects, ones that can’t be deleted by a stroke of the keypad if they, say, fail to meet expectations or sales forecasts.
Comedy and music appeal to similar sensibilities: both are perhaps intended to be enjoyed in semi-public spaces alongside strangers. But for hardcore fans, concerts and stand-up shows don’t allow for enough time for listeners to pour over every note and every joke, excavating their maximal joy. That must be done at home, in private, where performances can be repeated and the time for reflection is infinite. When on vinyl, the act of listening practically becomes a ritual, left for only the most pious of practitioners.
Those are exactly the types targeted by comedians and people who sell records In an interview with Splitsider, Dan Schlissel, owner of Stand Up! Records in Minneapolis said, “Vinyl is a niche market at best, but it’s a market that cares about content.” Regardless, apparently, of what type of content is in question.
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