Comedy specials you need to watch
If you’re in need of a laugh, Wonderwall.com has your fix! To mark the 15th anniversary of the finale episode of Dave Chappelle’s “Chappelle’s Show” on July 23, 2021, join us as we take a look at some of the buzziest comedy specials that you need to watch. Keep reading for more…
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There’s a lot to love about Bo Burnham, but if there’s one surprise (so far) that’s come out of 2021, it’s his exceptional and wonderfully bizarre performance art special that was recorded in his bedroom. “Inside” was written, directed and composed by Bo and accurately (as well as bleakly) captured what a year spent in coronavirus pandemic lockdown has been for many of us. From discussing depression and toxic masculinity to social media and cancel culture, Netflix’s “Inside” is riddled with self-deprecating jokes and truly catchy tracks.
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In 2019, Ali Wong kicked off her “Milk & Money” tour, which we hope will find its way to our TV screens in the near future. In the meantime, you can catch Ali’s other laugh-out-loud specials on Netflix: “Baby Cobra” and “Hard Knock Wife,” on which she jokes about her marriage, being pregnant, making money and her Asian heritage.
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John Mulaney’s 2018 Netflix special “Kid Gorgeous at Radio City” serves up all sorts of laughs. Following 2015’s “John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid,” this charming stand-up show sees John recall hilarious stories from his childhood and his time on “Saturday Night Live” in addition to his unpretentious commentary on coming of age and politics.
In “Pete Davidson: Alive From New York,” the “SNL” star tackles everything from mental health, drugs and his firefighter father who died on 9/11 to other comedians — like how disgraced Louis C.K. once tried to get him fired. He also goes for laughs about his high-profile romances with Hollywood beauties and why he thinks it’s “fair game” for him to talk about former fiancée Ariana Grande. The New York Times noted that the stand-up special “seems like it could use a hug” while Decider called it “a tell-all that leaves you wanting more.”
It took 15 years for Ellen DeGeneres to make her stand-up comeback, but it was worth the wait. In her 2018 Netflix original comedy special, “Relatable,” Ellen jokes about everyday life and celebrity life, touching on subjects including her early days as a sitcom star and her (now seemingly debunked) career as one of television’s “nicest” women.
In 2019, new mom Amy Schumer gave us one last comedy special before she gave birth to her first child, son Gene Fischer. On the hilarious Netflix original titled “Growing,” Amy jokes about her changing body, her new marriage to chef Chris Fischer and all the ways she’s no longer the same wild party girl she once was.
One thing we genuinely loved about Aziz Ansari’s 2019 Netflix comedy special “Right Now” is that he not only discusses the allegations of sexual misconduct that were leveled against him a year prior but takes responsibility for his behavior — raising the bar for how men in the spotlight should respond to such claims. The material is also good, with Aziz incorporating laughter as he discusses more personal moments of his life, including his relationship with his parents, his girlfriend and his frequent travels. There’s social commentary, anecdotes that will make you tear up and enough laughter to leave you thoroughly satisfied.
If you’re anything like us then you probably can’t get enough of Tiffany Haddish. The “Night School” star has appeared as a guest comedienne on numerous stand-up specials and even has one of her own, the 2017 comedy hour “Tiffany Haddish: She Ready!” — which you can watch on Google Play. Her special became the inspiration for her current Netflix original series, “Tiffany Haddish Presents: They Ready!” in which she introduces several of her favorite female comedians.
Another Netflix original you shouldn’t miss is shirtless wonder Bert Kreischer’s “Secret Time,” which premiered in 2018. Telling stories about his family, his zip-lining adventures and his need to one-up a former NBA star — all while he’s only half dressed — makes this funnyman’s comedy routine even more hilarious. Once you’re done, make sure you watch his other Netflix comedy special, “The Machine.”
In 2019, Seth Meyers debuted his Netflix special “Lobby Baby,” which didn’t shy away from discussing the nation’s tumultuous political climate. Not every quip was political, though — Seth also charismatically delved into what it’s like being a parent and recalled the chaotic story of how his wife went into labor and delivered their second child in the lobby of their apartment building!
This Canadian began working in comedy in 1989 and has since become one of the bestselling comedians in the world. Russell Peters, who makes fun of his Indian heritage while pointing out hilarious oddities about other cultures, returned to the stage in 2019 with his “Deported World” tour, which tackled fatherhood, relationships and sex as well as his interesting take on ethnicity and discrimination. The world tour spawned his 2020 comedy special “Deported,” which is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
Like an ancient shaman, comedienne Iliza Shlesinger takes her wisdom to the masses in her Netflix original comedy special, “Elder Millennial.” Making us laugh about everything from landlines to women’s reproductive rights, Iliza lays it all on the line in her 2018 show, which we think is one of her very best.
If you’ve yet to watch Trevor Noah’s 2018 Netflix original comedy special, “Son of Patricia,” then trust us when we tell you that you’re missing out on one of the funniest stand-up routines we’ve seen in years. Trevor takes his audience through his upbringing in South Africa and his move to the States and his hilarious first encounter with a beloved street food: tacos. From making fun of trap songs to talking about current politics and the realities of racism, Trevor’s comedy special shows exactly why he was the perfect person to take over hosting duties on “The Daily Show.”
If there’s one comedian you shouldn’t sleep on, it’s Emmy-nominated “Saturday Night Live” writer Sam Jay, whose Netflix stand-up show “3 in the Morning” debuted in 2020. From questioning the audacity of powerful Caucasian men like Elon Musk to commenting on her own masculine-presenting identity, Sam is all sorts of bold, but the beauty is in her delivery — namely the way she offers up comedy in a way that feels all at once raw and personable.
Hannah Gadsby wrote the jokes for her Netflix original comedy special, “Nanette,” expressly for the purpose of quitting the business. Unfortunately, her performance was so hilarious, there’s no way this Australian powerhouse can leave now. She made us laugh about everything from gender fluidity to sexism and took a brave stance against making fun of herself — in an effort to show others that it’s possible to love yourself and be funny without being the butt of your own jokes.
This one’s an oldie but definitely a goodie, especially if you’re as obsessed with writer, actor, musician, comedian and producer Donald Glover as we are. We’re specifically talking about “Weirdo,” his underrated, highly worth-the-watch 2012 Netflix comedy special. Rambling about his love for toy stores, cold cereal and more, we get an unflinching look into the wacky and, yes, weird mind of this multitalented award-winning star.
If you like your comedy with a dose of intellect, then make sure to check out Hasan Minhaj’s Netflix original special, “Homecoming King.” For one hour and 12 minutes, Hasan dives deep, talking about immigration, racism and the American dream. Don’t worry — even if the topics sound heavy, Hasan finds a way to make everyone laugh at the absurdity of our world and of the imaginary lines that divide us.
Jenny Slate’s first Netflix special, “Stage Fright,” which hit the streamer in 2019, is half documentary and half stand-up. Still, the “Obvious Child” star compellingly gives audiences a candid look into her upbringing and career in addition to showcasing some of her signature charismatic comedy that launched her to fame.
Following a health scare, comedienne Sarah Silverman returned to the stage with her 2017 Netflix original stand-up special, “Speck of Dust.” From the beginning, Sarah wasted no time breaking the ice. Whether she’s talking about her dad diagnosing campers’ bowel movements as a teen or her idea of inserting a camera into a man’s testicles to watch what happens when he ejaculates, Sarah pushes the envelope in the most uncomfortable ways, making us all laugh painfully hard in the process.
Dave Chappelle’s wildly controversial 2019 Netflix stand-up show, “Sticks & Stones,” is his fifth comedy performance project for the streaming service. Critics overwhelmingly hated it (delivering a 35 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes) while audiences overwhelmingly loved the material (it earned a 99 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes), which covers everything from gun culture and the opioid crisis to celebrity scandals and controversial jokes about Michael Jackson’s alleged molestation victims, trans people and more.
Emily Heller’s Comedy Central special “Ice Thickeners” (which you can stream online for free) is a breath of fresh air in a political climate that many feel can be overly focused on controlling women’s bodies. Joking through the lens of feminism, Emily unpacks her problems with a male-dominated society, the president and, of all things, the beloved dog movie “Air Bud.”
Jo Koy has quickly become one of our favorite male comedians in the biz. Since delivering his hilarious 2017 Netflix special, “Live From Seattle,” Jo has captured our attention with his stories about parenthood, growing up Filipino and his troubled dating life, which all endeared him to us. With his 2019 Netflix special, “Comin’ In Hot,” Jo carries on the tradition, sharing stories about his son’s puberty, his mom’s addiction to Louis Vuitton purses and a so-funny-you-might-actually-die confession that not every man has a large… um… package.
Nate Bargatze will catch you off guard with his smooth Southern humor in his 2019 Netflix original special, “The Tennessee Kid.” Whether he’s lamenting his unfit body, his cheap wedding or having to tell his daughter their dog died, Nate has a way of making every unhappy situation fodder for belly-deep laughter.
After an eight-year break from stand-up, comedian Chris Rock returned to the stage with his long-awaited 2018 Netflix special, “Tamborine.” In typical fashion, Chris yell-talks about his personal life, including his divorce caused by his own infidelity, his difficulties with dating again and the lessons he’s learned over the years about fatherhood. While Chris still has the same voice we’ve come to know and love, the material dives deeper and makes us laugh harder, showing this old dog still has some new tricks up his sleeve.
Known for his high-pitched squeal and family-focused humor, there is something so hilariously lovable about “fluffy” comedian Gabriel Iglesias. In his 2019 Netflix comedy special, “One Show Fits All,” Gabriel returned to the stage with new jokes about fatherhood, food, meeting his favorite celebrities and what it’s like to be a Mexican man in America right now.
R-rated jokes aren’t for everyone and that’s why we love clean comedian Jim Gaffigan. His 2017 Netflix original comedy special, “Cinco” (named so because it’s his fifth on the streaming service), brought us more of his deadpan delivery of a hilarious array of topics including fatherhood, his friend with too many cats and the pressure that comes with being a Midwesterner.
Marc Maron has never claimed to be sunshine and rainbows, and his dark-humored doomsday stand-up special “End Times Fun,” which debuted on Netflix in 2019, merely proves it. The podcast host boldly treads into controversial territory about everything from taking jabs at former Vice President Mike Pence to the doomsday preparation process.
Mo Amer is the comedian we didn’t know we needed in the world. In his 2018 Netflix comedy special, “The Vagabond,” Mo — who is one third of the comedy trio Allah Made Me Funny — jokes about sitting next to Eric Trump on an airplane and his difficulties with the American immigration system and shares hilarious personal stories about his family’s migration from the Middle East to America.
A year following the sudden and unexpected death of his wife, true-crime author Michelle McNamara, Patton made a triumphant return to the stage with new material reflective of his pain as well as the turmoil in our country in 2017’s “Annihilation.” Leaving no stone unturned, Patton takes aim at issues including racism, social inequality and the president’s qualifications while also making time for hilarious small talk with the audience.
When we tell you Wanda Sykes’ 2019 Netflix comedy special, “Not Normal,” will make your sides hurt, we aren’t kidding. This powerhouse comedian spends an hour and six minutes dissecting all the ways our country has fallen apart at the seams, focusing on politics, reality television and the uptick in racism and bigotry across the nation.
Tom Segura’s 2018 Netflix comedy special, “Disgraceful,” features the kind of humor that catches audiences by surprise. With an unassuming yet powerful stage presence, Tom manages to make us laugh harder than we expect while telling seemingly serious stories about his dad killing people amid war as well as his love of closing the elevator on people before they can get inside.
W. Kamau Bell’s 2018 Netflix comedy special, “Private School Negro,” unpacks the black experience in today’s America with searing humor everyone will enjoy. From explaining racism to his 6 year old daughter to pointing out the lack of qualifications among those in the current White House administration, W. Kamau takes no prisoners in his hilariously smart and reflective stand-up routine.
Seth Rogen’s 2018 laugh-out-loud Netflix comedy special, “Hilarity for Charity,” is one of the most unique on our list. With Seth as the host, this comedy hour features a dozen or more guest celebrities and comedians including Michael Che, Sacha Baron Cohen, Tiffany Haddish, Kumail Nanjiani, John Mulaney and even the Muppets performing funny sets and sketches to raise money for Alzheimer’s disease.
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