6 Comedy Music Albums 1970s: Treasured Humor From the Past

In the heyday of comedy albums during the 1960s, luminaries such as Nichols and May, the Smothers Brothers, and Tom Lehrer regaled audiences with wit and charm.

However, it was in the 1970s that these albums truly found their stride. As societal norms shifted, comedy albums became a haven for countercultural voices, often too edgy for mainstream television. 

Icons like George Carlin, Richard Pryor, and Steve Martin emerged, crafting hilarious and insightful recordings that resonated with a generation hungry for irreverence and authenticity.

Today, as podcasts reignite the flame of comedic storytelling, we pay homage to these trailblazers by revisiting their timeless classics. 

Here are six comedy music albums 1970s that deserved a rewatch.

1. The Firesign Theater – Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers (1970)

“Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers” is a surreal masterpiece. There’s no other way to describe this gem other than that.

The album marks The Firesign Theater’s departure from traditional comedy albums, with the concept centered around the character George Leroy Tirebiter.

Through television and movie parodies, the album offers a satirical journey through Tirebiter’s life, from his days as a child star to reflective moments reminiscent of “This Is Your Life.”

With witty spoofs on war films, televangelists, and commercials, the Firesign Theatre showcases its trademark blend of intelligence and humor.

Still, “Don’t Crush That Dwarf” transcends mere humor. Beyond its hilarious comedy bits, the album delves into poignant moments lingering long after the laughter subsides.

It’s a testament to the group’s mastery of storytelling and their ability to craft a masterpiece that’s as thought-provoking as it is hilarious.

2. George Carlin – Class Clown (1972)

“Class Clown.” That’s all you need to say to receive the nods of approval from your friends in the ‘70s. That’s how influential George Carlin’s work was in that decade.

At a time when the majority were relishing the transition from psychedelic rock to blues rock, iconic comedy figures like Cheech & Chong, Redd Foxx, and Carlin were making their waves.

While Carlin’s humor traversed political satire and observational comedy, “Class Clown” explored the comedian’s upbringing as an Irish catholic. 

Yet, it was the album’s controversial finale that truly ignited public discourse.

Carlin’s candid exploration of the infamous “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” pushed boundaries, sparking both praise and condemnation.

Despite facing scrutiny from the FCC and Supreme Court, Carlin’s fearless confrontation of societal taboos cemented his legacy as a comedic trailblazer. 

Its colorful history aside, “Class Clown” remains a timeless testament to Carlin’s irreverent genius, earning its place as a masterpiece in the annals of comedy history.

3. Cheech & Chong – Big Bambu (1972)

“Big Bambu” is a testament to the duo’s enduring comedic and cultural relevance. They’re surely up there with the Smothers Brothers.

Building on the success of their debut album, “Big Bambu” refines their winning formula with uproarious skits that delve into Latino and stoner culture, political satire, and everyday absurdities.

From the chaotic hilarity of “Sister Mary Elephant” to the legendary game show spoof “Let’s Make a Dope Deal,” each track is meticulously crafted with rich visual details, showcasing Cheech & Chong’s unique comedic vision.

With recurring characters like Pedro de Pacas and Man, as well as the beloved mutt buddies Ralph & Herbie, the duo captivated audiences in the 1970s and beyond.

4. Redd Foxx – You Gotta Wash Your Ass (1975)

Redd Foxx, the irrepressible comedian known for his blue humor and iconic portrayal of Fred Sanford in NBC’s “Sanford and Son,” is a treasured figure among American comedians.

Foxx enthralled audiences with his quirky humor and straightforward insights, captivating them on stage and in albums.

In 1975, amidst his television stardom, Foxx released “You Gotta Wash Your Ass,” a raucous live recording from Harlem’s Apollo Theater. 

While the material may seem less raunchy compared to his contemporaries like Richard Pryor, Foxx’s trademark blend of effortless timing and fearless delivery shines through.

From playful banter to scathing insults, Foxx captivates with his unmatched stage presence. Let’s just say it this way: if you haven’t watched it yet, you’re missing out!

5. Richard Pryor – Bicentennial N—– (1976)

Richard Pryor’s “Bicentennial N—–” embodies his audacious approach to comedy, affirming his role as a trailblazer in satirical stand-up comedy.

As tumultuous as the ‘70s, Pryor fearlessly tackled taboo subjects, redefining the boundaries of comedic expression.

The bicentennial album is a part of Pryor’s trilogy of boundary-breaking records. It’s a showcase of his unparalleled comedic gift featuring his iconic “Bicentennial Prayer” and “Acid” routines.

Through characters like Mudbone, Pryor offers poignant insights into the human experience, transcending mere comedy to deliver profound truths.

With incisive wit and raw honesty, Pryor delves into the complexities of race, relationships, and society, leaving audiences both stunned and enlightened.

6. Steve Martin – Wild and Crazy Guy (1978)

Steve Martin’s “Wild and Crazy Guy” marks a shift in comedic sensibilities during the post-Watergate era.

In a decade filled with American comedians boasting candid honesty and political commentary, Martin’s album stood out for its refreshing absence of drug references or social criticisms.

Instead, Martin introduced audiences to a characteristically smug, incompetent, yet undeniably charming persona, laying the groundwork for a new brand of humor.

Throughout the album, Martin seamlessly blends pseudo-intellectual musings with absurd observations, poking fun at himself as much as the world around him.

Surprisingly, “Wild and Crazy Guy” soared to unexpected heights, reaching number two on the “Billboard” charts and denoting a time of evolution for comedy.

Final Thoughts

You might remember the ‘70s as the golden decade for rock music. Classic rock, pop rock, folk rock, and other variations of the rock genre dominated the mainstream.

But behind the scenes of the rock ‘n’ roll spectacle, master comedians like George Carlin, Richard Pryor, and Cheech & Chong were reshaping American humor.

Why not take a trip down memory lane and download these timeless albums? With laughter as your guide, rediscover the audacious wit, fearless satire, and comedic brilliance that defined an era.