The best comedy on Spotify

Listen to stand-up albums for free

Oh no, not another bank holiday… But you could fill the time listening to comedy albums for free, thanks to legitimate music sharing website Spotify. For as well as millions of tunes, the service also offers scores of stand-up albums – if you know where to look.

Although there are few contemporary British or Irish comedians on the site, it boasts a sizeable range of American acts, as well as some surprising archive material.

Here's ten to check out – or click here to open the Chortle playlist of all the albums:

1. Glenn Wool: Let Your Hands Go
Playfully provocative Canadian comic – now back across the Atlantic after a long stint in the UK – with a smart and funny show about religion, corporate crime and drug use. Not for the easily shocked, but this passionately-delivered diatribe is perfect for the rest of us.

2. Demetri Martin: These Are Jokes
2006 album from the Perrier-winner,
full of his usual quirky observations and whimsical wordplay.

3. Mitch Hedberg: Do You Believe In Gosh?
Released posthumously in 2008, this is the last album from the acclaimed wordsmith, full of his typically peculiar one-liners. It's a little rough around the edges, but his eccentric charm shines through

4.Hannibal Buress: My Name Is Hannibal
A possible successor to Hedberg? Buress is still relatively new on the US scene, but this new album is a supremely confident debut, with a unique outlook and eloquent, concise writing singling him out as a force for the future.

5 Ed Byrne: Pedantic and Whimsical
One of the few albums to have originated this side of the Atlantic, the audio version of Ed Byrne's DVD is a few years old now, but his charm and wit sustain. There are some great routines here, and the show is never less than engaging and entertaining.

6. The Complete Beyond The Fringe
You can't consider yourself a serious student of comedy until you've heard Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller's groundbreaking 1960 satire, transforming comedy from cost drawing-room skits and into the political arena. Much of the work stands up surprisingly well, more than 50 years after it was first performed.

7. Kenneth Williams: Interesting Facts
More of an oddity from the same year, this one being the One Over The Eight revue written by Peter Cook. This one hasn't stood the test of time so well, with Williams's overpowering performance drowning the subtleties of the writing, which Cook would later draw out with mow élan as EL Wisty. As a real curiosity, this show includes the first version of the One Leg Too Few sketch about a would-be Tarzan actor, that would become one of Pete & Dud's classics.

8. Bo Burnham: Words, Words, Words
From a Sixties prodigy to a very 21st Century One. This is the show that won bright young Burnham the rather contrived Panel Award at last year's Edinburgh Fringe. Rich wordplay, smart songs, and audacious showing-off make this a impressive showcase for the former YouTube sensation.

9. The Chic Murray Show
Although one of the greatest comedians Britain ever produced, recordings of the great Greenock comic Chic Murray are thin on the ground, which makes this album such a treat. His surreal one-liners are mixed with some unfortunate musical interludes, though, with the second half of the album almost entirely composed of traditional Scottish tracks (excluded from the Chortle playlist)

10. Frank Sidebottom: Frank's Firm Favourites
Timperley's finest tackles the likes of Bohemian Rhapsody and Anarchy in the UK in his own inimitable way. You know he does, he really does.

Published: 3 Jan 2011

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