Some of the biggest names in comedy had their latest albums nominated for Grammys as the list of contenders was rolled out Tuesday, including Louis CK, Dave Chappelle and Bo Burnham, who each have their latest albums put in contention by the Recording Academy. But if you think those three share the same category, think again.
Louis CK is up for best comedy album for “Sincerely Louis CK,” but that’s where the predictability with these nominees ends, as the other two were considered… either too good for comedy, or not sufficiently funny for the division? Only the Grammys’ nomination review committees know for sure.
Chappelle is up in the best spoken word category for the album “8:46,” a nomination he shares with Amir Sulaiman. Previously, he received three nominations and three wins, all in the comedy album category, in three successive years, 2017-19.
Burnham has two nominations, and they’re his first Grammy nods, so he has no prior history of being placed in a category by the Recording Academy. Controversy was stirred earlier this month when it was revealed that he had been ineligible for the comedy division, with no explanation given. The Grammy monitors seem to have determined that “Inside” is primarily a TV special and not an album, despite the popularity of “Inside (The Songs)” on CD and vinyl as well as digital download. So his nominations come for best music film for the Netflix special and for best song written for visual media for “All Eyes on Me.”
Louis CK comes into this ceremony with three prior nominations and two wins, all in the comedy album category, like his new one is. This marks his first Grammy nomination since 2015.
Burnham has not come any particular fire, but both Chappelle and Louis CK have made hay out of being “canceled” — the former just this October this fall for jokes and commentary in his latest Netflix special that were widely criticized as transphobic, and the latter for sexual misconduct allegations that derailed his career. Either would be likely to see these Grammy noms as Recording Academy members giving a vote in favor of the comics being “un-canceled.”.
In the spoken word category, Chappelle faces tough competition among an otherwise non-comedic, all-Black list of nominees that also includes Barack Obama, LeVar Burton, Don Cheadle and J. Ivy.
Burnham, in the song for visual media category, does face one comedic competitor — “Agatha All Along,” from “WandaVision.” He faces some other heady competition there with two songs that were nominated for Oscars last year (H.E.R.’s “Fight for You”; Leslie Odom Jr.’s “Speak Now”), another that stands a chance of being nominated this year (“Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)” from “Respect”), and a Pink song, “All I Know So Far,” penned for her Amazon Prime Video special.
The competition is just as fierce in Burnham’s other category, best music film. “Inside:” is up against four non-comedic features: Billie Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever” special with the L.A. Philharmonic, Questlove’s “Summer of Soul” documentary, Jimi Hendrix in “Music, Money, Madness … Jimi Hendrix in Maui” and Spike Lee’s filming of David Byrne’s Broadway show “American Utopia.”
As for CK. his competitors in the actual comedy album field include Kevin Hart, Chelsea Handler, Lewis Black, Lavell Crawford and Nate Bargatze.