Netflix quickly conquered comedy not only because of the sheer volume of content but also because of the sharp critical eye that helped to turn comedians like Ali Wong and Hannah Gadsby into breakout stars. There’s an overwhelming amount of stand-up comedy on Netflix, and a lot of it’s excellent; here’s the best of the best comedy specials on Netflix.
One quick note, though: maybe the best original Netflix stand-up special isn’t on Netflix. Dave Chappelle’s powerful 8:46, an impromptu response to George Floyd’s murder in support of the Equal Justice Initiative, is entirely on YouTube and is a must-see.
Have a look at these standup which can hurt your cheeks a bit:
Ellen is a very well known name in world television. She has been hosting The Ellen DeGeneres Show for the last 18 Seasons. We all very much familiar with her sense of humour. She brings out comedy from small day to day things.
In her Netflix special, named as Relatable she is surely going to make you laugh but in a sweet way. As the name suggests all the comedy feels relatable.
2. Richard Pryor: Live in Concert
Richard Pryor’s Live in Concert is a state-of-the-art film. It wasn’t the first stand-up routine to be released as a long-form video, but it was the first to be released in theatres and the greatest single work of the greatest stand-up comedian in history; it’s probably the best stand-up special ever.
Pryor’s extremely dark material; he draws from his impoverished upbringing in the brothel, his addictions, heart attack, and the endless racial turmoil in America, should not be funny. Still, his ability to turn this pain into an unforgettable comedy is a kind of real-life alchemy. Despite all the things in this world that limited Pryor’s freedom, from drugs to race to health, he comes off as the freest and most clear-eyed observer of what it means to be human and alive during these 78 minutes.
Richard Pryor – Instagram Handle
3. Eddie Murphy: Delirious
Before Eddie Murphy arrived at the scene, no other comedian had the audacity to take the stage in snug red leather. Delirious is Murphy’s masterpiece, a snapshot of a terrified 22-year-old who doesn’t give a fuck about anything. Of course, this was 1983, and some of Murphy’s behaviours towards women, homosexuals, and AIDS were dated, to say the least (he has since apologized for some of the material).
There are caustic things to modern ears (and interesting from a sociological standpoint). But the real highlights here are Murphy’s firecracker force and his spot-on interpretations of James Brown, Elvis, and Stevie Wonder, as well as his own exaggerated stories of growing up. But behind its warts, Delirious is already a monumental stand-up performance. It’s clear who Murphy idolized and who he will inspire in the years to come. And with its off-colour moments, the fact that we’re all talking about it three decades later speaks something about Murphy’s creativity.
Eddie Murphy – Instagram Handle
4. Hannah Gadsby: Nanette
Nanette grows beyond the boundaries of a special comedy and into something entirely new, a riveting screed against the misogy in all forms that completely abandons her dependence on jokes. It’s the anti-comedy special, despite being incredibly funny. It’s not a badge that I’m putting on; Gadsby is very straightforward about her exclusive plans. It’s a piece of art that, like anyone who likes satire and sometimes feels torn about its position in our cultural environment. We’ve been waiting for a long time without ever noticing it.
It’s a furious hour, an extremely cathartic hour, and a significant one. An art form cannot survive if it refuses to face itself and to challenge its own need. If it does, it could be better and more vital on the other hand.
Hannah Gadsby – Instagram Handle
5. John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City
John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City is a piece with his last two specials. As before, he doesn’t say jokes on his own; he weaves lengthy, intricate tales out of his everyday life, both now and as a child, reflecting on how ridiculous the mundane can be. That may make him sound like some Seinfeldian observational comic, but it avoids the clichés of that genre.
It’s not the observation that makes Mulaney funny or the recognition that we may have for whatever he’s talking about. It’s the amount of detail he’s going through like he’s talking about elementary school assemblies. He doesn’t just bring the familiar setup and say a few broad jokes about the children, the teachers, and the school.
He goes deep into a particular assembly he had to attend every year, explaining in depth the Chicago police officer specializing in child molestation and giving annual presentations about how to stop or escape the “stranger danger.” Mulaney creates a whole picture of this assembly, from the outlandish arrival of Officer J.J. Bittenbinder to the increasingly absurd scenes of the policeman, with the humour rising with every new detail. There’s no traditional setup or punchline and little dependence on his subject’s universality; it’s just a story apparently taken from Mulaney’s life and told fantastically.
John Mulaney – Instagram Handle
6. Chris Rock: Tamborine
Tamborine confirms that Rock’s humor is as smart and as sharp as it has always been. He immediately begins talking about cops shooting black children, taking no time to plunge straight into one of the most depressing issues that is fracturing our society. He seamlessly slices through the weak “bad apples” shield routinely carved out by police forces when this happens and calls for a “world of true equality.” One while many white children are shot every month by the police as black children. From here, he follows on to gun control, and then to an extended bit about how one of his main priorities as a father is to train his children for the white man, and also to make sure they get bullied enough.
As he puts it, today’s President Trump’s main reason is that we no longer know how to deal with bullies. Rock takes on one hot button topic after another, flirting constantly with jokes that others may be offended by, but with a viewpoint that’s so insightful, original, and, in its own evil way, respectful that it would be hard to argue that he’s ever crossed a line, even if you think there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed.
Chris Rock – Instagram Handle
7. Chelsea Peretti: One of the Greats
After years of paying her fees, Chelsea Peretti had more than won her time in the spotlight. Considering the special title, it is tempting to ask the obvious question: is Peretti really one of the greats? The long answer is; for anyone who has followed her development, it is clear that she has always been a voice to be reckoned with. In this way, her special just repeat what any serious comedy fan has long ago decided. The short answer is, yes, she’s pretty cool.
Chelsea Peretti – Instagram Handle
8. Tig Notaro: Happy to Be Here
Notaro, one of the real masters of deadpan, seems almost relaxed with her most recent special existence. Sure, she’s still self-effacing, to a certain degree, and still approaches her fame and popularity with a bemused distance, but she smiles positively as she speaks about her marriage and her two young twin boys. After all the grief she had caused for her career-making stand-up specials and sitcoms, Notaro had more than won the confidence and joy she had shown in Happy to Be Here. Fans of Indigo Girls also need to watch this special.
9. Maria Bamford: Old Baby
Like her actions, Bamford’s material ranges from intimate to grandiose. An early joke, delivered to her husband and their pugs, pokes about the apologetic language people use to describe their relationship. “Um, yeah, we just met, and we really liked each other, and, you know, there are ups and downs, but we love each other, so we remain together,” she said, in character, her tone painfully serious. Then her face becomes cold and stony; she’s back to herself: “Oh, I’m sorry—if you’re bored with your miracle!” Her husband is smiling, patting the dog.
You can tell that he’s heard this joke before, but it’s not a pity to chuckle. Their home environment’s uniqueness is that they are imbued with context, from the painting of their dog to the tiny bride-and-groom figurines sitting on the couch. It seems like any old day for them, just hanging out and walking about.
Maria Bamford – Instagram Handle
10. Michelle Wolf: Joke Show
In her latest Netflix exclusive, Joke Show, Wolf hops into her set right away- no introductions, no opening goofs to ease us in, only straight into an otter rape bit. It’s as jarring as it sounds, but in Wolf’s practiced paws, her most abrasive jokes are also the funniest. Part of why this works is her quick link to the audience. She doesn’t actually hold our hands, but she’s ready with a flashlight to direct us through the dark places she’s bringing us, and it’s always worth the ride (no matter how vaguely uncomfortable).
Michelle Wolf – Instagram Handle
11. James Acaster: Repertoire
Acaster has casual optimism and a somewhat buzzy, Motormouth-like tendency with strong influences Dylan Moran and Stewart Lee, which applies to some loose-fitting, corduroy-heavy wardrobe – straight out of the less Aggro age of British alternative comedy. Recognize, the first of four hours in Repertoire rolls along as many specials from that period did, and it’s a wonderful, tipsy, bubbly ride with no simple moment-to-moment shape but a surprisingly coherent worldview as he wraps it up. It’s pretty incredible how formally assured it will finally turn out to be, considering that Acaster seems to be continually bored by our perceptions of where the show would go.
James Acaster – Instagram Handle