2021 Best Comedy Album Grammy Nominees:
• Black Mitvah, Tiffany Haddish
• I Love Everything, Patton Oswalt
• The Pale Tourist, Jim Gaffigan
• Paper Tiger, Bill Burr
• 23 Hours to Kill, Jerry Seinfeld
Dave Chappelle’s lockdown on the Best Comedy Album award is over. After three straight wins, Chappelle isn’t in the running for the 2021 Grammy Awards, so the field is wide open.
This wasn’t the strongest year for comedy albums, but five familiar and popular names broke through to make the cut. Four Netflix specials and one from Amazon Prime (Gaffigan) are competing for this year’s award.
Patton Oswalt is the only previous Grammy winner in the field, having claimed the gramophone in 2017 for Talking for Clapping. I Love Everything is his sixth nomination in the past 11 years, and it has to be considered among the favorites here. The special included a memorable bit about Oswalt’s ridiculous former life as a wedding DJ for a bargain-basement DJ company.
Jerry Seinfeld has been nominated twice before, but never won. 23 Hours to Kill was a moderately amusing special that featured his take on some of the quirks of modern life. Many of the bits are “about nothing,” so to speak, like his joke about lazy people who text “k” instead of “ok.” Everyone who loved his sitcom will always have a soft spot for Jerry, so he is a strong contender.
Tiffany Haddish’s nomination is significant because it highlights just how rare it is for a woman of color to get honored in this category. Margaret Cho is the only woman of color to earn a nod here in the last 15 years, and the last time a Black woman was nominated was back in 2002, when Adele Givens, Laura Hayes, Mo’Nique, and Sommore shared a joint nomination for The Queens of Comedy.
Haddish’s Black Mitzvah special from 2019 was well-received and earned an Emmy nomination as well. The high-energy special details her journey to embracing Judaism and touches on other moments from her entertaining life, like the time she borrowed a suit from Beyonce. The star of The Last O.G. and Tuca & Bertie is a sleeper pick here. She’s a fresher face than the others and could garner votes from folks who are bored with the other four veteran comics.
It’s hard to believe that Bill Burr has never been nominated for Best Comedy Album, since he’s been one of the most consistently funny standups of the past two decades. Burr is edgier and more politically incorrect than his fellow nominees. That could work in his favor, as he will appeal to voters who in the past went for similar comedians like Chappelle and Louis C.K., who have a combined 5 victories in this category.
That said, Paper Tiger wasn’t quite as strong as some previous specials Burr has done. And if Grammy voters really loved Burr, they presumably would’ve nominated him before now. So he has a chance, but he’s not the favorite.
Jim Gaffigan matches Oswalt with his sixth nomination (and fourth in a row!) this year. He’s way overdue for a victory, and Pale Tourist could get him there. Gaffigan is the only nominee whose album is available on Spotify, so that could help in terms of visibility. The 60-track album includes a funny chunk about his travels through Canada.
Just to clarify for readers who may be wondering: Even though these were all video specials, they are eligible for Best Comedy Album if an audio-only version was released at any point during the year. So all of these meet that requirement. A couple of these specials hit Netflix in 2019, but the audio version wasn’t released until 2020, making them eligible now.
Best Comedy Album Prediction
This is a category where any of the five nominees could conceivably win. Seinfeld is no longer as popular as he once was, but the fact that he’s never won a Grammy could make him somewhat of a sentimental favorite. Of course, the same could be said for Gaffigan, who’s been nominated several times and is universally liked. And Burr has the “edgy” niche all to himself, so he can’t be ruled out.
Still, the two best specials in this bunch came from Oswalt and Haddish, and we expect those two to battle for the Grammy. While it feels like Haddish has all the momentum in terms of pop culture visibility and Emmy wins, this category is often behind the curve when it comes to embracing newer faces. We think Oswalt may just eke out another Best Comedy Album win.
2021 Grammy Awards: Best Comedy Album Prediction
Deserves to win: Black Mitzvah, Tiffany Haddish
Will win: I Love Everything, Patton Oswalt
Should have been nominated: Good Deal, Jimmy O. Yang