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Laugh Track: Dec. 3, 2010

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Comedy has gotten much more democratic over the years: It’s no longer limited to guys in clubs or major-network TV shows. With a bit of free time and minimal iMovie know-how, everyone from budding young comics to name-brand stars can carve out some Internet space for their sense of humor. At the same time, traditional outlets like comedy CDs and DVDs are growing in breadth with the art form itself. It’s a great time to be a comedy fan, and Laugh Track, The A.V. Club’s weekly comedy blog, will round it all up—new and noteworthy stand-up, sketch, and online video, much of it courtesy of under-the-radar comedians with a little too much time on their hands.

CD: Comedy Death Ray, Xmas CD 2010
Given A Night Of 140 Tweets and the prolificacy of comedy podcasts, this was the year comedians made no secret of all being friends with each other. Comedy Death Ray capped that sentiment off nicely with an awesome, overloaded tribute to “We Are The World,” paired with a Christmas album that shows off surprising non-comedy talents. Jimmy Pardo channels Dean Martin and William Shatner on a cover of “Here Comes Santa Claus.” Matt Braunger (backed by Mike Phirman) channels The Boss on new song “Holiday Road Comic.” Doug Benson channels…well, Doug Benson sort-of raps sort-of in rhythm on “Christmas Wrapping.” Yes, even the most tone-deaf of comics proves eager to contribute: Rob Huebel does a bit, Myq Kaplan reads a poem, and El Chupacabra denies the world his singing voice for just a little longer with his “Feliz Navidad” message.

The folks at CDR have given The A.V. Club permission to post an exclusive track. Here’s Braunger and Phirman singing “Holiday Road Comic”:


One of the more… musically inclined tracks is Garfunkel & Oates’ tribute to those year-end missives people send around (or post on Facebook and tag everyone they know). They performed it last year on Leno, the arbiter of good taste. Sadly this is the best quality video I could find—guess you have to buy the album.

Internet: Comedy Thunder
In crafting a new comedy channel, Comedy Thunder subscribed to the “Throw a bunch of shit at the wall and see what sticks” model. They gathered seven sketch groups already making good content, like Elephant Larry, then gave them a legit excuse to make more videos—something few groups will consistently do on their own. Everyone gets the same theme each week, and the groups are tasked with creating their own spin on the topic. So that’s seven (sometimes eight when a guest group is involved) videos times 12 weeks equals 84 new videos, minimum, at which point the Internet will probably have to be wiped clean so we as a society can start anew. The YouTube channel launched around Halloween, and since then, most groups have been hit-or-miss depending on the theme—which in theory are general enough to spark many shades of creativity. The good stuff has really busted through, though. The live-action Doug movie trailer made the rounds a few weeks ago, and this video, while kinda long, contains the best premise for a sketch perhaps ever. The group Cream, though, has churned out great sketch after great sketch, all of which comment on pop culture absurdities.

Bonus: Hey! The Zooey Deschannel Show
It’s still in its infancy, but this new web series is already showing promise in a Very Mary-Kate kinda way: Zooey Deschannel, one-trick pony, discusses the infinite shades of acting. Hey, clearly Noël Kristi Wells has never heard of a little thing called “Havin’ A Summah.”