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Happiness Is A Warm Death Ray

2-CD set from L.A. live series presents the best work of some of the best 'alternative' comedians

The double CD compilation to be released by Comedy Central Records on September 12, “Comedy Death-Ray,” chronicles some of the best appearances from this show, performed in L.A. periodically, as well as San Francisco, which is designed as a non-club forum for the stars of the so-called alternative stand-up set.

Some of the best material on the discs, however, comes from the performers that are little-known. Mindy Kaling, far from a household name, although she plays Kelly on “The Office,” delivers a flawless impersonation of Scarlett Johanson -- a celebrity you wouldn’t think would really inspire impersonation. In a short segment, Kaling also does a very funny discourse on the proper use of the word “retarded.”

Neil Hamburger presents a unique delivery for his material, punctuated by hacking snorts and coughs, with a raspy discourse that is something like a mix of Larry King, Andy Rooney and Paul Harvey, but on speed. Unexpectedly, he incorporates various pop culture elements you wouldn’t expect him to be familiar with, and even successfully pokes fun at Bill Murray for some of his more paycheck-inspired movie roles.

Paul F. Tompkins has an exceptional set on the album, which hasn’t been heard on record elsewhere -- about the personalities who populate Hollywood Boulevard in front of the Chinese Theater dressed as movie characters, particularly one dressed as Freddie Krueger who made news when he got into an altercation with somebody, and stabbed him with real knives he had on his hands as part of the costume. “That’s not cool that it happened, but here’s what’s cool about it,” Tompkins says. “At some point, he must have thought to himself, ‘What are we even arguing about here? I’m Freddie Krueger,’ and he started slashing away.”

Patton Oswalt is included on the album, although his piece is mostly identical to one from his latest album, “Werewolves & Lollipops,” and Maria Bamford’s piece is similar to material already released with some slight variations or tangents. But if you’re unfamiliar with them, it’s a good chance to sample their work.

In all, “Comedy Death-Ray” is a compilation that will definitely encourage listeners to go deeper and seek out albums by those of its acts who have them.




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