Comedy Albums To Drive By

Well, not in the gangsta sense, but on our recent trip to Wisconsin, I brought along four audiocassette comedy albums to break up the audio courses that we listened to for much of the ride.

Back when I was young, right after college, I drove back to Milwaukee from St. Louis probably once a month, and I had two audiocassettes I took with me: What Am I Doing in New Jersey? by George Carlin and No Cure for Cancer by Denis Leary. I didn’t take the latter with us I thought my beautiful wife would balk at its profanity and its nonchalance at the prospect of cancer (she being a, what, almost thirty year survivor? How is that possible as she is not yet thirty years old?).

So I brought these:

They include:

  • What Am I Doing In New Jersey? by George Carlin; as I said, this 1988 recording accompanied me many, many times on those trips to Wisconsin. In 1994(ish), the recording was only six years old, so it probably did not seem as dated then as it does now. It heavily savages the Reagan administration, which would have been winding down when it was recorded, and its political takes are often out-of-date (although abortion jokes could fit right in 34 years later, as they’re on the proper side of the political aisle). My wife had noise canceling headphones that she put on early in the tape, which means I could have brought the Denis Leary along.
  • The 2nd Best of Dave and Carole (not actually titled Some Kids Never Grow Up by Dave Luczak and Carole Caine, two morning show personalities in Milwaukee during my college years. This cassette, which came out during my college years (probably, but find it on the Internet, I dare ya), captures bits from their morning show (proceeds from the sale went to charity). I popped this in once I reclaimed the steering wheel after a snooze and after we hit the Wisconsin line. It’s disparate bits from their morning show, which includes some silly songs based on hits and concerns of the day (“Wake Up Or Eat Sushi” is based on “Wake Up, Little Suzie” and concerns that the Japanese were buying the country). We have recurring bits from “Mr. Angry,” a recurring character with brief bits. We get interviews with comedians stopping in town, including the guy who played Skippy on Family Ties and a probably twelve-year-old Darrell Hammond. So dated, too, but unlike the Carlin, it’s not political humor but more topical generally. So the venomous laugh-at-the-out-group stuff isn’t there, so it’s aged better.

    And, you know what? It’s a good reminder of how the concerns of the day did not bear out–remember how in the 1980s, Americans were worried that the Japanese would eat our economic lunch? Yeah, to what Eastern economic power could that apply today?

  • Carlin on Campus by George Carlin; I picked this up later, after my college years, and have not listened to it quite as much. Although this is an earlier (1984) recording, I thought it recycled a bunch from the earlier (to me) What Am I Doing In New Jersey?. It’s about 40% the same, but that 40% is not the political bits, so it has aged better, strangely. Although the last piece is a couple of minutes on a bit called “An Incomplete List of Impolite Words” which is Carlin running through slang for parts of the human anatomy and whatnot. I mean, I was listening with the family–although my wife had her headphones on. Oh, well, I guess it made my youngest better prepared for the transition to public school.
  • You Might Be A Redneck If…. by Jeff Foxworthy. This is the youngest of the comedy cassettes on the trip, as it’s only 29 years old (1993, old man). You know, I have reported on the book in 2006, but I am not sure when I picked up this cassette. Long ago enough that my wife ripped it from the cassette to MP3s back when she went through a phase of digitizing our audio tapes around the turn of the century. The humor on the album is topical, and the “You might be a redneck” thing propelled Foxworthy to fame and fortune in the 1990s. Of course, in that time, I have moved to the country, so I better understand the kernels of truth in the gags. I don’t care where you’re from, that there’s funny. Sorry, that’s the wrong guy. But, still, it has held up better than the Carlin material.

Well, they served their purpose in passing the time. The boys in the back seat, especially the oldest, enjoyed some of the topical Carlin bits, especially about driving–he’s learning to drive, so he relates very viscerally to the humor.

These cassettes will go back in the box, maybe for the last time, although I guess it’s possible we will take another road trip as a family (but our as a family time is winding down). If we do, the Denis Leary cassette is coming along.

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