Various Artists

10,000 Laughs: Best of the Boston Comedy Festival

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It is probably fair to say that, as the title indicates, there are 10,000 laughs on this 16-comedian, two-hour-and-18-minute double-CD set, at least in terms of the sounds from the audience at the Boston Comedy Festival. Whether listeners to the album will get as many laughs out of it is another question. Comedy, especially the one-joke-after-another style of single-person standup comedy, can be local and topical, and the references heard repeatedly on these discs bear that out. Among the 16 comics, all of them men, are ones with names like Jim McCue, James P. Connolly, and Rob O'Reilly, which offers a hint that there are plenty of discussions about what it's like to be Irish-American and Catholic and that the college name most often mentioned is Harvard (not that any of the comedians sound like they've attended Harvard, though some sound like they may be in college now). Perhaps not coincidentally, drinking comes up quite a lot. But then, that may simply be because there are laughs to be found in drinking and drinking to be found at comedy clubs. Drugs factor in, too, along with lots of sex, more often in complaints about its absence than anything else. Fast food makes many appearances, too, though not so much as an actual subject of humor as a common reference point between the comedians and their listeners. So does George W. Bush, who is the butt of many jokes. That's not surprising, of course. But it does seem odd that homelessness and those charities that ask people to adopt poor Third World children for pennies a day are frequently mentioned. These are comedians who have much in common, but with slight variations. Tom Simmons finds a lot of humor in sports, although he really gets revved up (and funniest) at the end criticizing his wife. Connolly seems to want to become the next Steve Martin, adopting the same sort of insensitive and boorish character Martin used to play in his standup act. Ryan Hamilton mines laser eye surgery for a surprising number of laughs. Several comedians make punch lines of themselves, but their self-deprecation must work better for audiences who can see them. (O'Reilly gets his biggest laugh when he refers to himself as the love child of John Lennon and Harry Potter; guess you had to be there.) The best of the self-referencing comedians, and, in fact, the funniest performer on the disc, is Costaki Economopoulos, who gets a lot of mileage out of his name and ethnicity. He is also one of the more relaxed sounding among a group of men who often seem to rush their words out nervously and, in some cases, almost hysterically. But even if the at-home listener doesn't get 10,000 laughs out of the album, after two hours of listening there will be at least several hundred, as long as some part of the idea of George W. Bush eating at McDonald's with a drunken Irish Catholic homeless person who went to Harvard strikes your funny bone.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
blue highlight denotes track pick