Ha, ha, ha: Comedy CDs and the gift of laughter

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The latest from Paula Poundstone. - PHOTO: Courtesy

Comedy albums, which peaked in popularity during the 1960s through the 1980s, are making a comeback. Late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon won a Grammy for (and bared his butt on the cover of) his comedy CD Blow Your Pants Off. A talented mimic and musician, in addition to being a genuinely funny guy, Fallon packed his Pants with his trademark parodies of popular songs and his spot-on imitations of singers such as Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen. The disc features numerous guest artists, including Paul McCartney, Justin Timberlake, Eddie Vedder and Stephen Colbert. On “Slow Jam the News,” featuring newscaster Brian Williams, Fallon asserts that the “President goes both ways on some issues.”

It’s difficult to fathom, but comedy legend Paula Poundstone has only released two comedy CDs over the course of her more than 30-year stand–up career. The latest, I Heart Jokes: Paula Tells Them in Boston, released earlier in 2013, contains Poundstone’s trademark humorous observations about parenthood and culture. A bit about same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, which occurs while Poundstone is talking to a gay man in the audience about texting, is especially amusing.

Groundbreaking comedian Richard Pryor was a straight man with a string of wives and girlfriends, but he didn’t do too badly by the gays. His daughter Rain, a longtime friend of the LGBT community, played a “lipstick lesbian” on Showtime’s Rude Awakening. His actor son Richard Pryor Jr. is an openly gay man. No Pryor Restraint: Life In Concert brings together Pryor’s three concert films (including Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip) on two DVDs, and seven CDs full of “prime Pryor hilarity” culled from existing and rare live stand-up recordings.

For people who prefer their comedy live, up-close and in-person, a gift certificate to Milwaukee’s Comedy Café, 615 E. Brady St., makes a terrific present. Certificates are available at 414-271-5653. Go to milwaukeescomedycafe.com for a list of upcoming acts. 

Wisconsin is all about sports (and cheese and beer), and nothing creates more opportunities for laughter than sports. So if you can’t afford a Brewers season ticket for the fan on your gift list, give them the next best thing — a gift certificate for Milwaukee’s renowned Comedy Sportz, 420 S. First St. At least fans can laugh about all of the losses. Call 414-272-8888.