Stand Up! Records' Prolific 2009

It's been a busy 2009 for Stand Up! Records owner Dan Schlissel, who City Pages profiled last year. The indie comedy label impresario was nominated for his second Grammy Award for producing Louis Black's latest album, Anticipation. Schlissel picked up a statue for his work on Black's The Carnegie Hall Performance, but this year he lost out to the late George Carlin.

"The jilted side of me wants to say, 'Hey, here's a guy who wrote an album about being old and dying, and then he had the marketing savvy to go and die,'" Schlissel says. "But [Carlin's] last one was a solid, classic album. It was the better album. The right guy won."

Meanwhile, Stand Up! has dropped four new records in the first third of the year, with a fifth (from former Air America host Marc Maron) on the way shortly. Not only is the label local, but all the shows were recorded at Acme, just down the street from City Pages headquarters in the Warehouse District.

The best disc of the quartet is Chad Daniels's Busy Being Awesome. Daniels, a local favorite who resides in Fergus Falls, might well be the funniest man in Minnesota. He's an aggressive performer whose bullying style is more New York Tough than Minnesota Nice. ("Stare all you want, I'm not gonna take it back," he tells the crowd when they gasp at his suggestion that fat people should be forced to take the worst parking spots to encourage more walking.) Daniels posits himself as an unrelenting wise-ass in the face of responsibility; much of the material centers on his role as husband and father. But while family life softens many standups, Daniels shows no signs of taking it easy. Some of his best bits center around his unorthodox parenting style, whether he's fielding questions from his kids like an embittered press secretary or refusing to coddle them by letting them use gutter bumpers at the bowling alley. ("Ever see a kid using gutter bumpers? 'Hey, mister, I got a strike!' No you didn't, you little window-licker. It bounced five times before you even hit a pin.... Now go get your dad so I can kick him in his pussy.")

Parenting strategies from Daniels:

Two of Stand Up!'s newest finds both got bumped in the early going from the reality TV show Last Comic Standing -- yet another fine example of the staggering irrelevance of LCS. Dan Naturman (Get Off My Property) is a young performer whose wiseguy delivery sometimes recalls old-school greats like Larry Reeb. Matt Kirshen (I Guess We'll Never Know) is an elfish Brit who uses his boyish charm to deploy surprisingly dark material. (When a young boy afflicted with the plague asks his parents to buy him a toy, they respond, "We need that money to burn your corpse.") Both of these guys are devastating performers whose discs, like all good comedy album, reward repeat listening.

Here's Naturman appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman and Kirshen on homeopathy.

Perhaps the funniest comedian of the group is veteran Dwight Slade, who won last year's Boston Comedy Festival. He's probably better suited to DVD than an audio-only presentation. The album, Evil Monkey, is laugh-packed for certain, but Slade is a tremendous physical comic who accentuates his best bits with broad act-outs that nicely complement his sharp wordplay. Listen to his album, sure, but be sure to catch him live.