Comedy wins none of the 2014 Billboard Music Awards but all of the focus of this week’s magazine issue

You probably heard about, if you didn’t also already see, the hologram of the late Michael Jackson performing at Sunday night’s Billboard Music Awards, televised live to an audience of millions.

The Billboard Music Awards are perhaps the least surprising awards of all in “Awards Season,” as each of the 39 winners knew they’d won, their victories determined from the year-end Billboard chart rankings from sales and downloads.

And yet. Most surprising of all about the 2014 BBMAs wasn’t the appearance of our dead “King of Pop,” but the oversight in excluding any comedy act among the award winners. There is a Comedy Albums chart on Billboard, after all — Jim Gaffigan sits atop that chart currently (his “Obsessed” CD actually debuted at #11 on the overall Billboard 200 two weeks ago!), and The Lonely Island rocked the year-end comedy chart. It’s not as if The Lonely Island wasn’t already doing something this past weekend (AHEM, Andy Samberg hosting SNL, and a new digital short for one of their tracks, “Hugs”, AHEM).

And yet! The real surprise in omitting comedy from the 2014 BBMAs comes when you pick up the current issue of Billboard magazine to see Chelsea Handler and her manager, Irving Azoff, smiling back at you. It’s the Billboard Comedy Issue. Of all weeks, this week the magazine looks at comedy.

So what’s inside?

billboard-cover-comedy-2014-chelseahandlerThe cover story: Chelsea Handler and manager Irving Azoff

Azoff — who formed Azoff MSG Entertainment with Madison Square Garden in September 2013 — tells the magazine that Handler’s next act after E!’s Chelsea Lately should involve radio — both terrestrial and digital. “She’s an absolute natural for that,” he says. “We’re going to figure out what’s going on in her life digitally.”

Handler’s personal appearance agent, CAA’s Nick Nucifero: “The attention from TV fuels her tour, her tour fuels TV, the book fuels both, they fuel the book. Her social media is through the roof, and it’s all ping-ponging back and forth between these different mediums.”

Speaking of which, Azoff said he learned from his time at Live Nation that comedians could do the same thing music acts did. “It’s not unlike the music business,” says Azoff. “A lot of what we’ve done for Chelsea, with her touring and her book promotion, were just tricks we learned in the rock’n’roll touring business. We did platinum seating on her tour, an AmEx presale. On the book we did an exclusive version for Target, and they took a nice hefty order.”

Handler says of her future: “I created my own show … and I did something that hadn’t necessarily been done in that format or medium the exact same way. And because I did that, I have the leisure of being able to walk away from it and do it again. I don’t want to go and fill someone else’s shoes in a job. I want to create my own job, for me, and I want to write my own books, and I don’t want anyone telling me exactly what I can and can’t do.”

aziz-ansari-01a-comedy-outtakes-billboard-650Feature: Aziz Ansari

The profile reveals Ansari is planning on performing at Madison Square Garden soon.

“There is something very insane and amazing about starting stand-up in New York City at the lowest rung — open-mic spots — and then many years later going to the other utmost, utmost extreme of playing Madison Square Garden,” he says. “I felt a sense of that when I did Carnegie Hall, but Madison Square Garden is another level.”


Podcasting: Spotlight on Marc Maron, Jimmy Pardo and Aisha Tyler.

Touring: Dave Attell’s thoughts on working the road, recorded and transcribed. Among them: The one thing I wish the people who rep comics understood is that doing a stand-up tour really is a f—ing grind. Sometimes my manager will meet me, and he’ll say, “I get it now. I had a rough flight, and I just want to go to bed.” And I’m like, “You haven’t seen the half of it. You didn’t do five hours of bad radio this morning. And you didn’t have to have a really awkward lunch with the club owner’s friend.” I wish it was just long flights and shitty hotels.

Comedy music: Guest post from Kyle Gass of Tenacious D

The next generation: The magazine lists and gathers together Tig Notaro, Chris D’Elia, Nikki Glaser, Rory Scovel, Rikki Lindhome, Kate Micucci, Michael Che, and Nick Kroll for a pithy Q&A

The Top 20 Best Selling Comedy Albums in the Nielsen Soundscan Era (aka since 1991)

  1. Adam Sandler, ‘What the Hell Happened To Me?’ (1996) — Sales to Date: 2,137,000
  2. Jeff Foxworthy, ‘Games Rednecks Play’ (1995) — Sales to Date: 2,087,000
  3. Jeff Foxworthy, ‘You Might Be a Redneck If…’ (1993) — Sales to Date: 2,055,000
  4. “Weird Al” Yankovic, ‘Bad Hair Day’ (1996) — Sales to Date: 2,025,000
  5. Adam Sandler, ‘They’re All Gonna Laugh At You’ (1993) — Sales to Date: 1,831,000
  6. Beavis & Butt-Head, ‘The Beavis & Butt-Head Experience’ (1993) — Sales to Date: 1,610,000
  7. Dane Cook, ‘Retaliation’ (2005) — Sales to Date: 1,404,000
  8. Dane Cook, ‘Harmful If Swallowed’ (2003) — Sales to Date: 1,376,000
  9. The Jerky Boys, ‘The Jerky Boys’ (1992) — Sales to Date: 1,237,000
  10. “Weird Al” Yankovic, ‘Running With Scissors’ (1999) — Sales to Date: 1,182,000
  11. “Weird Al” Yankovic, ‘Off the Deep End’ (1992) — Sales to Date: 1,057,000
  12. Larry the Cable Guy, ‘A Very Larry Christmas’ (2004) — Sales to Date: 1,012,000
  13. Larry the Cable Guy, ‘The Right to Bare Arms’ (2005) — Sales to Date: 960,000
  14. Larry the Cable Guy, ‘Lord I Apologize’ (2001) — Sales to Date: 883,000
  15. Jerry Clower, ‘Greatest Hits’ (1994) — Sales to Date: 883,000
  16. Bill Engvall, ‘Here’s Your Sign’ (1996) — Sales to Date: 881,000
  17. “Weird Al” Yankovic, ‘Alapalooza’ (1993) — Sales to Date: 873,000
  18. Various Artists, ‘The Blue Collar Comedy Tour’ (2003) — Sales to Date: 731,000
  19. Jeff Foxworthy, ‘Crank It Up: The Music Album’ (1996) — Sales to Date: 715,000
  20. Jeff Foxworthy, ‘Greatest Bits’ (1999) — Sales to Date: 689,000

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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