Jerry Seinfeld, in a press conference prior to his live comedy special last month, proclaimed that his first comedy album would be available in late September.

First comedy album? It seems odd that the star of one of the most successful situation comedies in television history and a guy who's been at the top of the stand-up game for more than 20 years is just releasing his first comedy recording.Seinfeld said that it was because comedy albums didn't sell in the '80s and early '90s.

"They just started to sell again," he said, "so we'll be putting out a CD version of the special."

During the '60s and early '70s, many of today's comedians grew up with comedy albums by Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart, Richard Pryor, the Smothers Brothers and other popular acts.

Seinfeld proudly points to the fact that he literally wore out Cosby's records. In those days, comedy records such as Cosby's sold in the millions. But sales dipped to practically nothing in the '80s. The major cause for the decline was competition from cable television and an oversaturation of the comedy market.

It's likely that Seinfeld's album, "I'm Telling You For the Last Time," will sell a million copies during its first week in release and, while there are no hard and fast statistics on comedy album sales in general, their popularity is steadily climbing.

Here are some of the more interesting new albums and significant re-releases. I give you both the witty and the witless:

"THE AMERICAN COMEDY BOX - 1915-1994" (Rhino): At $50, the five-volume boxed set is pricey, but it's a marvelous sampler of American humor. Bob and Ray, Richard Pryor, Abbott and Costello, W.C. Fields, Joan Rivers, Stan Freberg, Spike Jones, Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, Dick Gregory, Henny Youngman, Phyllis Diller, Bob Hope and Steven Wright are just a few of the nearly 60 comics represented.

"BABES IN JOYLAND: KATE CLINTON" (Whyscrack): Kate Clinton is one of the best comics around with her easy conversational style and sharp observational humor. While her quips are often sympathetically aimed directly at the gay community, her artistry transcends gender and sexual identity. De-scrib-ing herself as a "recovering Catholic," Clinton targets political and social hypocrisy. "To me, the avant garde just means not knowing when to clap," is a typical dead-on line.

"BOBBY SLAYTON: RAGING BULLY" (Parental Advisory) (Miramar): No one could be further from the political sensitivities of Kate Clinton than Slayton. Yet, he is the funniest of the gargling barbed-wire comics. He takes no prisoners in his assault on virtually every ethnic group, political philosophy, and sexual orientation. Make no mistake about it. He is raging, and he is a bully.

"CHRIS ROCK: ROLL WITH THE NEW" (Parental Advisory) (Dreamworks): Chris Rock is a Richard Pryor/Lenny Bruce descendent who uses his humor to attack hypocrisy wherever he finds it. He even does a long, hilarious oration on why black people are more racist than white people.

"RODNEY CARRINGTON: HANGIN' WITH RODNEY" (Parental Advisory) (Mercury): Maybe you have to be from Texas - and drunk - to think this guy is funny. While there are a few funny bits - one involving shopping for a casket and the other about sexual confusion - Carrington seems to think if he laughs loud enough at his own jokes, you will too.

"PAUL RODRIGUEZ: CHEESE `N' MACARONI UNCOOKED" (Payaso): It's great to see a Mexican comic who reverses the conventional stereotype by poking fun at his Anglo sidekick, but Rodriguez has to get beyond using old cultural stereotypes (such as Latinos don't ski) if he's to move up.

"JACKIE MARTLING: THE JOKE MAN" (Off Hour Rockers): For someone who can't remember a joke for more than five minutes, I really admire the fact that Jackie Martling, whose career took off through his exposure on "The Howard Stern Show," recalls thousands of them. The problem is that most of them aren't funny. Dirty? Yes. Disgusting? Yes. Revolting? Yes. Funny? Not really.

"ALBERT BROOKS: COMEDY MINUS ONE" (Rhino): Originally released 25 years ago, the reissue of this remarkable album is cause for celebration. Personally, it's my favorite.

"RICHARD BELZER: ANOTHER LONE NUT" (Uproar Entertainment): Better known as a star of NBC's "Homicide," Richard Belzer is a remarkable commentator. Think of him as Mort Sahl's best material as delivered by Norman Bates. And his best stuff is true.