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The best stand-up comedy on Netflix right now

Before carving the turkey at Thanksgiving dinner, there are plenty of stand-up comedy titles to gobble up on Netflix in November. It’s a light month for new entries to the streaming service as it turns its focus towards some much-hyped original movies and series, as well as the annual holiday fare. The biggest comedy special hitting the streaming service this month is the Jonas Brothers Family Roast, which will be exactly what it sounds like: A good old-fashioned roast, albeit one where comedians are taking the lead. Watch for that to start streaming on November 23. Outside of that, however, Netflix has dozens of stand-up comedy titles worth streaming with the family (and ones to watch on your own because, you know, politics). Here is the best stand-up comedy on Netflix this month.

Katherine Ryan: In Trouble (2017) new

Katherine Ryan: In Trouble
Genre Comedy
Stars Katherine Ryan
Directed by Colin Dench
63m
This stand-up special was released in 2017 but is experiencing newfound relevance on Netflix. In Trouble features the Canadian comedian espousing on some dark topics and doing so in a tight set that never slows down. Her range is strong, jumping through topics from aging all the way to the popularity of Taylor Swift. She can be raunchy and cheeky but also tackles heavy subjects such as Donald Trump, showing no problem eviscerating the then-recently elected president (remember, it’s 2017). Ryan’s other Netflix stand-up special, Glitter Room, is also worth a watch.

Haroun (2021) new

Haroun
Genre Comedy
Stars Haroun
Directed by Seralf Flares
76m
Can stand-up comedy cross language barriers? That’s the challenge in Haroun, a stand-up special from a Frenchman of the same name. The answer comes through as a resounding affirmative as the comedian tackles a range of topics, finding ways to be provocative without necessarily crossing the line. As content from other countries grows increasingly popular in the United States, subtitles are becoming increasingly common in movies and television. Stand-up is the next frontier, and Haroun is a solid starting point for viewers.

Trevor Noah: Afraid of the Dark (2017) new

Trevor Noah: Afraid of the Dark
Genre Comedy
Stars Trevor Noah
Directed by David Paul Meyer
pg-13 68m
Trevor Noah came from humble beginnings in South Africa to become one of the most renowned comedians in the world and Jon Stewart’s successor on The Daily Show. As someone who wears the scars of his native country’s apartheid policies, Noah is the perfect person to focus the magnifying glass on the American nationalism that was in full force at the time his first Netflix special was released, in 2017. While Noah delves into very serious topics in his commentary of the American way of life, he does so in a way that makes audiences laugh in the moment, then think much more deeply about his topics of choice much later.

Seth Meyers: Lobby Baby (2019) new

Seth Meyers: Lobby Baby
Genre Comedy
Directed by Neal Brennan
Cast Seth Meyers
tv-ma
The former Weekend Update host and current late-night talking head emerges from behind his desk to tell stories about his life, such as the time his wife had a baby in a lobby (as everyone does at one point in life). Meyers is on his A-game when talking about current events and politics, the bread-and-butter of his television stints. But Lobby Baby demonstrates another side of the comedian, one that is flawed and human and family-oriented, things that are tougher to see in his day-to-day gigs. Obviously, there’s still plenty of talk about politics, and this came out in 2019, when Donald Trump was president, but there’s a pretty clever way to skip ahead if you’re not interested in that part of the special.

Plastic Cup Boyz: Laughing My Mask Off! (2021)

Plastic Cup Boyz: Laughing My Mask Off!
Genre Comedy
Directed by Royale Watkins
Cast Will 'Spank' Horton, Na'im Lynn, Joey Wells
tv-ma
In case it wasn’t obvious from the title, this special was released during the pandemic. But the Plastic Cup Boyz are still bringing the laughs. Made up of three half-hour stand-up sets from three different comics, if you’re fickle about your comedy you can skip ahead pretty quickly in the unlikely situation you get bored of one of them. For the uninitiated, The Plastic Cup Boyz is the comedy troupe created by actor/comedian Kevin Hart, with this special, Laughing My Mask Off, consisting of three of them — Joey Wells, Will Horton, and Na’im Lynn. If you’re a fan of Hart’s raunchy, self-deprecating humor, you’re likely to love this. There are also some funny jokes about politics and even COVID-19, although the latter arguably goes too far at times.

James Acaster: Repertoire (2018)

James Acaster: Repertoire
Genre Comedy
Directed by Daniel Lucchesi
Cast James Acaster
tv-14
James Acaster’s four-part collection of stand-up routines is over three years old, released to Netflix back in 2018. It is drawing renewed interest, however, due to comparisons with Bo Burnham’s nominal special, Inside. In Repertoire, the audience isn’t always in on the joke. Acaster seems to be speaking in traditional stand-up prose for the most part, but he is doing it in all sorts of unconventional ways, beginning the first show on his knees with no explanation for several minutes. His act can feel emotional at times and cerebral at others, simultaneously keeping audiences at a distance and inviting them deep into a psyche. Put simply, it’s a different type of stand-up, one that is slowly becoming more accepted in the mainstream.

Oh, Hello on Broadway (2017)

Oh, Hello on Broadway
Genre Comedy
Directed by Michael John Warren
Cast Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Steve Martin, Matthew Broderick
tv-ma
Netflix categorizes Oh, Hello as stand-up, but it’s more of an experience, the length of a feature-length film. Just like Hamilton would do years later, this special is a filming of the show’s Broadway act, but warped slightly for the sake of the streamer. Comedians Nick Kroll and John Mulaney don their best wigs as Upper West geriatrics wearing turtlenecks befitting of their miscast opinions. Because Netflix goes all out, a couple of Hollywood legends pop up to get involved in the show, which can admittedly drag at times. The chemistry between the two modern comedy icons is unmatched, however. By the end of the show, you’ll be walking up to your closest friends saying in your sassiest voice, “Oh, hello” for about two months.

Nate Bargatze: The Greatest Average American (2021)

Nate Bargatze: The Greatest Average American
Genre Comedy
Directed by Troy Miller
Cast Nate Bargatze
tv-g
Nate Bargatze has become a staple of the Netflix stand-up lineup and returns once more with 2021’s The Greatest Average American. Shot during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bargatze is back with insights about life under lockdown, from Zoom frustrations to the challenges many marriages and families have dealt with over the past year. Bargatze’s insights are funny but can also be quite poignant, such as when he touches on the aging of his parents. The special never gets too bogged down in emotions, however, with Bargatze seemingly well aware of how much the common American needs a laugh right about now. He’s happy to supply them in ample doses.

Michael Che Matters (2016)

Michael Che Matters
Genre Comedy
Directed by Oz Rodriguez
Cast Michael Che
tv-ma
Michael Che’s star continues to rise on Saturday Night Live, but like much of the show’s cast, he’s cut his teeth on the stand-up circuit. In Michael Che Matters, Che addresses a number of subjects, many echoing the matter broadcast during his Weekend Updates segments. In November 2016, Che inevitably talked about Donald Trump, but he also talked about gun control, homophobia, and racism, giving takes that still feel relevant five years later. The best part is Che’s delivery, which is never meant to shock the audience. Instead, it’s all about getting on his relatively calm wavelength, allowing the comedy and insights to land at a much more level decibel.

Bo Burnham: Inside (2021)

Bo Burnham: Inside
93%
98%
Genre Comedy
Directed by Bo Burnham
Cast Bo Burnham
tv-ma
It’s tough to find anything to which you can compare Bo Burnham: Inside. Burnham recorded the special in his home during the COVID-19 pandemic — without a crew or an audience — over the course of a year. Along with hilarious sketches about things like reaction videos and video game streaming, Inside is filled with Burnham’s original songs. At first, songs of pure comedy like FaceTime with My Mom (Tonight) are interspersed with more biting satires like How the World Works, but as the year and special progresses — and Burnham goes from slightly shaggy to full-on mountain-man — things get increasingly darker, until the comedian will sing something like “it’ll be over soon,” and you’re not sure if he’s talking about the pandemic, the world, or both.

Soy Rada: Serendipity (2021)

Soy Rada: Serendipity
Genre Comedy
Directed by Pablo Faro
Cast Agustín Aristarán
tv-ma
Agustín Aristarán is not a household name in the United States, but he may be by the end of the month. The Argentinian comic brings an earnest energy to his performance in Soy Rada: Serendipity. In addition to telling jokes, he also performs magic as well as music — a true renaissance man. The trailer released by Netflix shows that the performance took place in front of an empty auditorium, so be prepared for a laugh track. Additionally, the comic performs in Spanish, another test to see if jokes can be easily translated over subtitles.

Pete Davidson: Alive from New York (2020)

Pete Davidson: Alive from New York
40%
52%
Genre Comedy
Directed by Jason Orley
Cast Pete Davidson
tv-ma
Pete Davidson has drawn more scrutiny and interest than any other Saturday Night Live cast member in recent memory. In Alive from New York, Davidson dishes on some of the hot gossip around his life, beginning the stand-up set by explaining his public feud with disgraced comedian Louis C.K. Part jokes, part real-life introspection, Davidson’s special doesn’t shy away from the controversies he’s been swept up in. The comedian stirs the pot around jokes he made on SNL about figures such as Congressman Dan Crenshaw and pop superstar Ariana Grande, with whom Davidson formerly shared a much-publicized relationship. It’s relatively brief at 49 minutes, suggesting Davidson is only scratching the surface as a comic.

John Mulaney: New in Town (2012)

John Mulaney: New in Town
Genre Comedy
Directed by Ryan Polito, Jake Szymanski
Cast John Mulaney
tv-ma
John Mulaney is now accepted as one of the greatest stand-up comics of a generation. Before then, however, he was just New in Town — well, not really. Mulaney’s first true stand-up special was filmed in 2012, when he was still perfecting his idiosyncratic style. This special doesn’t quite hit the same highs as future specials (also on this list), but there are still jokes that hold up perfectly upon each rewatch, even a decade after the special first aired. Two particular gems in this special involve Ice-T’s memorable turn on Law & Order: SVU as well as a pitch-perfect delivery about a homeless person Mulaney once ran into on the streets of New York City.

Best of Stand-up 2020 (2020)

Best of Stand-up 2020
Genre Comedy
Cast Jerry Seinfeld, Leslie Jones, Taylor Tomlinson
tv-ma
While it wasn’t very easy for anyone, 2020 hit stand-up comedy particularly hard. How do you do stand-up when there’s nowhere to stand up? Thankfully, enough comics either got their specials in under the wire or found creative ways to make the thing work that Netflix had enough material to put together Best of Stand-Up 2020. The special includes clips from some of the funniest stand-up artists on Netflix during this singular year. Among other things, it’s a great way to sample the stand-up acts and see which ones make you laugh the hardest. Some of the specials clipped include Jerry Seinfeld’s 23 Hours to Kill, Eric Andre’s wild Legalize Everything, Taylor Tomlinson’s Quarter-Life Crisis, Kevin Hart’s surprisingly contemplative Zero F**ks Given, and a whole lot more.

Brian Regan: On the Rocks (2021)

Brian Regan: On the Rocks
Genre Comedy
Directed by Troy Miller
Cast Brian Regan
tv-g
In his second special for Netflix, Brian Regan utilizes his trademark style of comedy (i.e., keeping it clean) to discuss issues ranging from the serious — like aging (hello gray hair!) and OCD — to the asinine (raisins). Regan has a long-standing association with the legendary comedian Jerry Seinfeld, so if you like Seinfeld, you’ll probably like Regan. On the Rocks is also among recent Netflix specials with a new, pandemic-driven format of stand-up, as it was filmed outside, with a socially distanced crowd laughing with masks firmly on their faces.

Rhys Nicholson: Live at the Athenaeum (2020)

Rhys Nicholson: Live at the Athenaeum
Genre Comedy
Directed by Toby Parkinson
Cast Rhys Nicholson
tv-ma
According to Rhys Nicholson’s act, the only way he’ll attend a house party is if someone there will be so “wrong” that they’ll make him feel better about himself. Thankfully, he doesn’t hold to similar rules for stand-up specials. He delivers his thoughts on the dangers of hallucinogens, his struggles with mental health, and society’s mishandling of controversial gender issues with his signature brand of hilarious self-deprecating cynicism.

Kevin Hart: Zero F**ks Given (2020)

Kevin Hart: Zero F**ks Given
Genre Comedy
Directed by Leslie Small
Cast Kevin Hart
tv-ma
Hart’s COVID-era special recorded in his own home with the comedian performing in his pajamas has a pretty misleading title. The title Zero F**ks Given braces you for an hour of no-holds-barred ranting, but that isn’t what you get. While Hart is no less free with obscenities than usual, Zero F**ks is an impressively funny and surprisingly introspective comedy special. Much of it revolves around Hart coming to terms not only with the pitfalls of fame, but with how it’s changed him. He explores his own ups and downs and as a celebrity with hilarious stories about being filmed in fast-food parking lots, his short and fruitless boxing career, and having pizza with Jerry Seinfeld.

Kevin Hart: What Now? (2016)

Kevin Hart: What Now?
76%
60%
Genre Comedy
Stars Kevin Hart, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle
Directed by Tim Story, Leslie Small
r 96m
Anyone who told you that stand-up comedy and action films have nothing in common clearly never watched Kevin Hart at work. Hart is as physically active onstage as anyone you’ll find, and the first 15 minutes of his 2016 performance sees him pissing Don Cheadle off during a game of poker, fighting evil henchmen with Halle Berry, and cleaning blood off himself before jettisoning from under the Lincoln Financial Field stage in Philadelphia. Once he starts, it’s an avalanche of humorous tidbits about his son being afraid of a glow-in-the-dark Batman, a scary experience while viewing The Conjuring, and what exactly a “preemie week” is.

Ari Eldjárn: Pardon My Icelandic (2020)

Ari Eldjárn: Pardon My Icelandic
Genre Comedy
Directed by August Jakobsson
Cast Ari Eldjárn
tv-ma
If you’re not from Iceland, then Ari Eldjárn has a few things to teach you. Through the comic’s wit and observation, you learn about the crushing sense of inadequacy under which Eldjárn’s fellow Icelanders apparently suffer, not only in comparison to the larger countries of the world, but even among the other Nordic nations. You’ll be tickled to learn of the national pride Iceland took in grounding the rest of Europe’s planes with a volcano, the pride they take in their handball, and Marvel fans won’t want to miss Eldjárn’s take on Hollywood’s version of the thunder god, Thor.

Donald Glover: Weirdo (2012)

Donald Glover: Weirdo
Genre Comedy
Stars Donald Glover
Directed by Shannon Hartman
65m
Donald Glover is a man of many talents. He’s an actor, made famous by Dan Harmon’s Community, a Grammy-winning rapper known as Childish Gambino, a stand-up comedian, and, most importantly, a weirdo. In this classic performance in New York, audiences get a glimpse of the man just before his ascendance to musical superstardom. With his unique brand of storytelling, Glover shares his love of Cocoa Puffs and Toys “R” Us and reminds us all that he really is just a weirdo at heart.

Bert Kreischer: The Machine (2016)

Bert Kreischer: The Machine
Genre Comedy
Directed by Ryan Polito
Cast Bert Kreischer
tv-ma
If the image didn’t do it for you, Bert Kreischer: The Machine is as goofy and absurdist as you’d expect. Kreischer dives into unbelievable stories, including everything from a run-in with a grizzly bear to his experience in Russia, where he earned the nickname “The Machine.” Bert’s lived his life as a man-child but just so happens to also be a husband and father — a contradiction that defines his life. An uproarious, relatable hour of comedy, The Machine is equal parts hilarious and endearing.

Marc Maron: End Times Fun (2020)

Marc Maron: End Times Fun
Genre Comedy
Directed by Lynn Shelton
Cast Marc Maron
tv-ma
Everybody’s favorite podcasting middle-aged cynic, Marc Maron, takes his trademark bleak attitude toward everything to Netflix in this suitably titled special. Maron discusses vitamin hustlers, evangelicals, grown male nerd children, and many more harbingers of the end times as he weaves his way toward a truly climactic secret apocalyptic fantasy.

Hannah Gadsby: Douglas (2020)

Hannah Gadsby: Douglas
Genre Comedy
Directed by Madeleine Parry
Cast Hannah Gadsby
tv-ma
Hannah Gadsby’s second Netflix special follows in the success of her first special Nanette and takes the Australian comic to whole new heights. Gadsby ponders the intricacies of popularity and identity and takes a deep dive into the strangeness and wonder of everyone’s favorite place: The dog park.

Hannah Gadsby: Nanette (2018)

Hannah Gadsby: Nanette
Genre Comedy
Directed by Jon Olb, Madeleine Parry
Cast Hannah Gadsby
tv-ma
Widely regarded as one of the most groundbreaking, unique, and powerful stand-up specials in recent years, Australian comic Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette deconstructs the very nature of stand-up comedy and the human experience. Originally planned as Gadsby’s final stand-up show (although the comedian ended up launching Douglas in 2019 after Nanette’s wild success), Nanette is as hysterically funny as it is emotionally raw. The special debuted on Netflix in June 2018 to critical acclaim (it currently holds a 100-percent “Fresh” rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes) and almost immediately inspired countless think pieces celebrating Gadsby’s surprisingly layered exploration of LGBTQ issues, gender, mental health, and even art history. The brilliance of Nanette is best understood when you go into it without knowing too much about how the special unfolds, so we’ll leave it at that and hope to see you on the other side.

Hannibal Buress: Comedy Camisado (2016)

Hannibal Buress: Comedy Camisado
Genre Comedy
Directed by Lance Bangs
Cast Hannibal Buress
tv-ma
Hannibal Buress was already relatively famous when the Bill Cosby scandal broke. When it came out that Buress had already called Cosby out for sweeping his sexual assault allegations under the rug in a previous comedy special, his popularity exploded. In Comedy Camisado, Buress addresses the fallout from his Cosby routine in his customarily sly, dry way. He also delves into zipper etiquette and the legacy of steroids — important topics for everyone to consider.

Eric Andre: Legalize Everything (2020)

Eric Andre: Legalize Everything
Genre Comedy
Directed by Eric Notarnicola
Cast Eric André
tv-ma
Eric Andre is well-known for pushing the envelope in ways both provocative and inane. When he takes the stage in New Orleans in this comedy special, Andre brings his textbook energy and shamelessness to new heights. Tackling everything from flawed fast-food icons to the bizarre choice of the Cops theme song, Andre takes a more political note, striking at commercialism and a broken society in Legalize Everything.

Maria Bamford: Old Baby (2017)

Maria Bamford: Old Baby
Genre Comedy
Directed by Jessica Yu
Cast Maria Bamford
tv-ma
In her first stand-up special since her wild and crazy hit show Lady Dynamite, Maria Bamford fully accelerates into awkwardness in Old Baby. This unconventional special moves through a series of strange Los Angeles performance venues, taking an unusually self-referential approach as Bamford examines the relationship between herself and her various audiences. From dog park philosophers and mismatched in-laws to audience abandonment issues and therapy songs, Old Baby is as weird — and weirdly fun — as only Maria Bamford can provide.

Tom Segura: Disgraceful (2018)

Tom Segura: Disgraceful
Genre Comedy
Directed by Jay Karas
Cast Tom Segura
tv-ma
In his third Netflix special, Tom Segura truly hits his stride. He gets this streaming thing and he understands he’s merely a cog in the machine. Segura brings a formidable stage presence, treating this special like he’s speaking to an underground club, not the entirety of the internet. There’s an authenticity that makes his jokes about fatherhood, PC culture, and the like hit home with a bit more poignancy because it truly feels like you’re the only one in the room.

Bill Burr: Paper Tiger (2019)

Bill Burr: Paper Tiger
Genre Comedy
Directed by Mike Binder
Cast Bill Burr
tv-ma
Bill Burr has never been called “subtle,” and it’s extremely clear why in this Netflix special filmed in front of a full house at the Royal Albert Hall in London. In this raucous, scathing special, Burr complains about Michelle Obama’s book tour, takes on male feminists, explores his hang-ups on taking baths, and explains why his personality may very well destroy his marriage.

Bill Burr: I'm Sorry You Feel That Way (2014)

Bill Burr: I'm Sorry You Feel That Way
Genre Comedy
Directed by Jay Karas
Cast Bill Burr
tv-ma
This black-and-white Netflix exclusive is a microcosm of Bill Burr’s comedy: Simple, honest, and straight to the point. Burr dispenses with the preshow theatrics that dot many contemporary comedy specials and gets right down to business. In this case, “business” is 80 minutes of Burr saying whatever he wants, and it’s hilarious. Despite the title, Bill really doesn’t care how you feel about, well, pretty much anything. He’s uniformly unafraid of broaching topics like how local weather affects interracial relationships (his wife is Black), and his borderline-arrogant attitude works to drive the show forward. Burr is simultaneously approachable and intimidating, with a fast-paced New England accent that perfectly underlines his comedic style.

Bo Burnham: Make Happy (2016)

Bo Burnham: Make Happy
Genre Music, Comedy
Directed by Bo Burnham, Christopher Storer
Cast Bo Burnham
tv-ma
Bo Burnham started his comedic career as a teenager recording songs on YouTube. His 2016 special Make Happy, however, is considerably more grown-up. Burnham appears to finally be feeling the burnout of being young and famous, ripping on the entertainment industry and preposterous shows like Lip Sync Battle, and taking a good hard look at his own work. Despite his boyish charm and punny one-liners, Burnham takes on a darker tone with this special without sacrificing the funny.

Mike Epps: Only One Mike (2019)

Mike Epps: Only One Mike
Genre Comedy
Directed by Kevin Bray
Cast Mike Epps
tv-14
Mike Epps is a comedy legend, with more than two decades of performing under his belt, and yet Only One Mike is just his second Netflix special. Regardless, he makes his return to Netflix count in Only One Mike, filmed at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Epps is as inappropriate and raunchy as ever as he reflects on the gifts and curses of raising four daughters, battling childhood dyslexia, and much, much more.

Taylor Tomlinson: Quarter-Life Crisis (2020)

Taylor Tomlinson: Quarter-Life Crisis
Genre Comedy
Directed by Marcus Raboy
Cast Taylor Tomlinson
tv-14
Taylor Tomlinson follows up her Netflix debut on The Comedy Lineup Part 1 with her first dedicated Netflix special just two years later. At 25, Tomlinson has already accomplished much more than many other comedians, and she’s learned many, many lessons in that quarter decade. Most notably that the 20s are far from “the best years of your life” like everybody keeps telling her they are. One of comedy’s newest stars, Tomlinson talks about working on herself, realistic relationship goals, and all those other millennial buzz-topics with a caustic wit that shows her to be one of the great voices of reason in comedy.

Tiffany Haddish: Black Mitzvah (2019)

Tiffany Haddish: Black Mitzvah
Genre Comedy
Directed by Linda Mendoza
Cast Tiffany Haddish
tv-ma
Tiffany Haddish has become such a full-fledged movie star at this point that it’s easy to forget that she cut her teeth in stand-up for more than a decade before hitting the big time. In her first Netflix comedy special, which, again, is crazy considering how long she’s been doing this, she shows why her star took off so suddenly once she finally got the recognition she deserved. Exploring the eccentricities of being a Black Jewish woman and her uncomfortable relationship with fame, Haddish is delightful, relatable, and, of course, hilarious in this long-overdue special.

Iliza Shlesinger: Elder Millennial (2018)

Iliza Shlesinger: Elder Millennial
Genre Comedy
Directed by Steve Paley
Cast Iliza Shlesinger
tv-ma
Iliza Shlesinger has long been a Netflix stand-up stalwart, with five specials (Freezing Hot, War Paint, Confirmed Kills, and Iliza Unveiled are the others) but Elder Millennial is her masterpiece. Taking aim at her own generation as well as every other one, Elder Millennial feels strangely like listening to your grandmother on her annual Thanksgiving tirade. Yet Shlesinger is infinitely more charming than your grandmother — no offense. Nailing everything from dating, sex, and the double standards and hypocrisy that pervade our society’s every interaction and government’s operation, Shlesinger walks a tightrope of wisdom and purposeful naivete. She’s an elder millennial with much to learn but she also knows how to tell it how she sees it.

Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones (2019)

Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones
Genre Comedy
Directed by Stan Lathan
Cast Dave Chappelle
tv-ma
Chappelle’s long-awaited return to stand-up specials did not disappoint in the slightest. With his characteristically caustic wit and self-referential humor, Chappelle struts into the special like Tom Cruise in Top Gun, an action hero who returned to glory after a self-imposed hiatus. The guy left on top, he’s returning on top. Of course, times have changed since the final episode of Chappelle’s Show aired in 2006, and Chappelle’s famous impressions of people of different races and unfiltered opinions on race relations in the U.S. (the Jussie Smollett incident, for one) haven’t aged well for all. That’s likely why critics widely panned the special. Audiences and die-hard Chappelle fans, however, loved it because Chappelle has refused to change with the times, even if that means living a few steps over the line. If you like Chappelle, you’ll love Sticks & Stones.

Dave Chappelle: The Age of Spin and Deep in the Heart of Texas (2017)

Dave Chappelle: The Age of Spin and Deep in the Heart of Texas
Genre Comedy
Directed by Stan Lathan
Cast Dave Chappelle
tv-ma
Nearly 17 years after taking the comedy world by storm with his legendary special, Killin’ Them Softly, Dave Chappelle returned to the stage with two hour-long stand-up performances released exclusively through Netflix. The specials, which constitute Chappelle’s first televised comedy work in more than a decade, prove that one of America’s funniest and most iconic laugh miners still has “it.” In The Age of Spin, recorded at the Hollywood Palladium, Chappelle details his four encounters with O.J. Simpson and riffs on the Bill Cosby scandal. Deep in the Heart of Texas, on the other hand, sees the unpredictable comic tackling more controversial topics, like gender identity and racial tensions, as only he can. Across both specials, the message is clear: Chappelle doesn’t care what you think, and he won’t neuter himself for the sake of political correctness.

Ronny Chieng: Asian Comedian Destroys America! (2019)

Ronny Chieng: Asian Comedian Destroys America!
Genre Comedy
Directed by Sebastian DiNatale
Cast Ronny Chieng
tv-ma
Capitalizing on American hysteria over … well, everything, and Americans’ exceptionalist attitude toward … well, everything, Chieng has some good-natured fun with cultural differences between people. Chieng is a Daily Show correspondent who was born in Malaysia, was raised in Manchester, New Hampshire, and Singapore, and attended the University of Melbourne. He has been around, seen the world, and actively engaged with it, and it shows in his stand-up.

Simon Amstell: Set Free (2019)

Simon Amstell: Set Free
Genre Comedy
Directed by Julia Knowles
Cast Simon Amstell
tv-ma
U.K. viewers know Simon Amstell best as host of Popworld and Never Mind the Buzzcocks, creator of Grandma’s House, and writer and director of the feature films Carnage and Benjamin. Chances are, though, that you’ve never heard of him. Well, consider Set Free your introduction. As many critics have noted, Set Free is basically a public therapy session, as Amstell uses his time on stage to work through a number of personal issues, including his relationship with his family, social anxiety, body image issues, and other mental health problems (yes, therapy itself is one of Amstell’s targets, too). If you don’t think that self-reflection can be funny, give Set Free a try. Amstell fans might have heard some of the material before, but to the rest of us, it’s new — and very, very good.

Whitney Cummings: Can I Touch It? (2019)

Whitney Cummings: Can I Touch It?
Genre Comedy
Directed by Marcus Raboy
Cast Whitney Cummings
tv-ma
By her own admission, Whitney Cummings has evolved. “Generalizing about men and women paid for my house,” Cummings notes, referring to her two sitcoms, 2 Broke Girls, which she produced, and her short-lived starring vehicle Whitney. That was the old Cummings. While Can I Touch It? tackles similar material, it does so with more nuance and self-reflection than Cummings’ past work. Not that the comedian has lost her ability to shock, of course. The part of Can I Touch It? that everyone will be talking about comes in its second half, when Cummings brings out a custom-built sex robot that looks exactly like her before launching into an extended bit about how man-on-robot relations might pave the way for the next feminist revolution. Is it uncomfortable? That depends on how you feel about sleeping with an automaton. Is it raunchy, funny, and weird? You bet.

Fortune Feimster: Sweet & Salty (2020)

Fortune Feimster: Sweet & Salty
Genre Comedy
Directed by Krysia Plonka
Cast Fortune Feimster
tv-ma
Fortune Feimster is a Southern, lesbian, full-bodied woman, which is to say she is fairly unique in stand-up comedy. In her Netflix special debut, she shows off why she’s such a rare talent with an original perspective. Though she sometimes ventures into well-traveled stand-up topics, Feimster does it with unabashed brashness and unapologetic fury — a tour de force you don’t often see on stand-up stages. She’s a laugh-out-loud talent with a lot to say and the charisma to make you take notice.

Aziz Ansari: Right Now (2019)

Aziz Ansari: Right Now
84%
72%
Genre Comedy, TV Movie
Directed by Spike Jonze
Cast Aziz Ansari
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In January 2018, an anonymous woman accused Ansari of sexual misconduct in a scathing article on Babe.net. Right Now, directed by Spike Jonze, is Ansari’s response. The comedian opens Right Now by expressing his shame and regret over the incident (although, notably, he never quite apologizes), then spends the rest of the special interrogating the effect of “wokeness'” on pop culture — and Ansari himself. Right Now is at its best when Ansari turns the spotlight inward, dissecting some of his older bits — an ode to R. Kelly, for example, that has aged spectacularly poorly — and re-examining his past behavior. No, it isn’t laugh-out-loud funny. It shouldn’t be. Compared to Ansari’s other specials, Right Now is surprisingly honest and raises some interesting questions. Given the context, that’s enough.

Anthony Jeselnik: Fire in the Maternity Ward (2019)

Anthony Jeselnik: Fire in the Maternity Ward
Genre Comedy
Directed by Marcus Raboy
Cast Anthony Jeselnik
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Anthony Jeselnik is still a bad, bad man — or, at least the character he plays is — but Fire in the Maternity Ward is the Comedy Central star’s cleanest, most accessible special yet. That’s not to say that it’s tame. Jeselnik still wrings laughs out of topics like white supremacy, abortion, and dropping babies. And yet, the cartoonish racism and misogyny that defined Jeselnik’s earlier work are gone, making it easier to appreciate Jeselnik’s craft — and his craft deserves appreciation. Unlike other off-color comedians, Jeselnik is a disciplined and patient performer. He takes his time, which makes his punchlines’ inevitable twists all the worse. Going into Fire in the Maternity Ward, many fans worried that the current political climate might dull Jeselnik’s edge. They shouldn’t have. Jeselnik might be a sociopath, but he’s a funny one, and Fire in the Maternity Ward proves that the comedian is still at the top of his game.

John Leguizamo's Latin History for Morons (2018)

John Leguizamo's Latin History for Morons
Genre Comedy
Directed by Aram Rappaport
Cast John Leguizamo, Rubén Blades, Oskar Eustis
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John Leguizamo premiered his one-man stage show Latin History for Morons in 2017, and the performance went on to earn a Tony Award for its exploration of the influence and importance of Latin Americans throughout U.S. history. Netflix brought the show to subscribers in November 2018, offering a chance for everyone who couldn’t make it to Broadway (or afford tickets) to experience the fascinating, kinetic history lesson taught by Leguizamo across 90 minutes of energetic explanation — complete with chalkboard and assorted props. While it’s not traditional stand-up comedy, the show’s one-man format and nonstop humor make it stand out from the crowd as both educational and entertaining.

Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King (2017)

Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King
Genre Comedy
Directed by Christopher Storer
Cast Hasan Minhaj
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The first stand-up special from former The Daily Show correspondent Hasan Minhaj, Homecoming King, won a Peabody Award in 2018 for its brilliantly crafted, tremendously funny exploration of the immigrant experience in the U.S. and Minhaj’s experiences growing up in an Indian-American Muslim family. That Minhaj is able to do so without resorting to the most expected, well-worn topics is what makes the special so unique, and the heartwarming — and occasionally heartbreaking — stories he shares about his life are the sort that often find as much common ground in the human experience as that of the immigrant experience.

Jerry Seinfeld: Jerry Before Seinfeld (2017)

Jerry Seinfeld: Jerry Before Seinfeld
95%
74%
Genre Comedy, Documentary
Directed by Michael Bonfiglio
Cast Jerry Seinfeld, Johnny Carson, Mark Schiff
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So, what is the deal with airplane food? Netflix threw a reported $100 million at Jerry Seinfeld for streaming rights to his Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee series and two stand-up specials, and the comedian’s first effort is a return to his comedy roots. Jerry Before Seinfeld explores the comedian’s early stand-up career before he became an icon with his titular sitcom in the 1990s. The special is part documentary, part stand-up, and all hilarious confirmation that Seinfeld’s brand of humor is timeless. If you’re a die-hard Seinfeld fan who can stand laughing for nearly an hour, Jerry Before Seinfeld needs to be in your Instant Queue.

Tig Notaro: Happy To Be Here (2018)

Tig Notaro: Happy To Be Here
Genre Comedy
Directed by Tig Notaro
Cast Tig Notaro
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If you’re unfamiliar with Tig Notaro, get familiar, because she’s both a wickedly funny comedian and an inspiration to cancer patients everywhere. In 2012, following a breast cancer diagnosis, Notaro took to the stage to air her grievances in a legendary set at L.A’s Largo club. Later, even though Louis C.K. sold copies of that Largo performance to raise money for Notaro, she used her series One Mississippi as a platform to call upon women to make their voices heard, prompting investigations that submarined C.K.’s career. In Happy to Be Here, as the title implies, Notaro is more jovial than ever, happily joking about her gender identity and performing bits of goofy physical comedy without any hint of hesitation. It’s both hilarious and heartwarming, and if you like comedy, you should see it.

Fred Armisen: Standup for Drummers (2018)

Fred Armisen: Standup for Drummers
Genre Music, Comedy
Directed by Lance Bangs
Cast Fred Armisen, Tre Cool, Sheila E.
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Rarely (if ever) will you see a stand-up special targeted toward such a niche subject or group of people. Fred Armisen — he of Saturday Night Live and Portlandia fame — doesn’t care. As the drummer and bandleader for Seth Meyers’ late-night house band (and, formerly, Chicago punk outfit Trenchmouth), Armisen is uniquely equipped to write drumming-related jokes, which he does with expertise and aplomb. The special is also definitely funny for the drumming impaired, thanks to Armisen’s incredible physical comedy abilities and his generally hilarious vibe, but most of the jokes will land better for those who hit stuff with sticks for a living.

Chris Rock: Tamborine (2018)

Chris Rock: Tamborine
100%
78%
Genre Comedy
Directed by Chris Rock, Bo Burnham
Cast Chris Rock
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The first of two comedy specials Rock will produce for Netflix as part of a very lucrative dealTamborine combines the kind of social awareness we’ve come to expect from contemporary stand-up performances with some more intimate, sensitive material. The first half of the program sees Rock skewering the “All Lives Matter” movement and commenting on the experience of being Black in contemporary America; he hits mostly familiar notes, but with the same verve and vocal affectations that shot him to stardom in the first place. Later, he considers his personal shortcomings, exploring the many reasons behind his marriage’s failure, including admissions of a borderline porn addiction and a tendency toward arrogance. It’s an uneven show (directed by Bo Burnham), but if you like Rock’s comedy, it should hit home.

Jen Kirkman: I'm Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine) (2015)

Jen Kirkman: I'm Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine)
Genre Comedy
Stars Jen Kirkman
Directed by Lance Bangs
78m
Jen Kirkman is newly 40 and fired all the way up in this 2015 Netflix special. She dives into some sharp, hilarious truths about turning 40, divorce, kids, sex, and more in an endlessly entertaining show. Forty may be just another milestone, but it certainly comes with some perspective.

Sarah Silverman: A Speck of Dust (2017)

Sarah Silverman: A Speck of Dust
Genre Comedy
Directed by Liam Lynch
Cast Sarah Silverman, Michael Sheen
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While Sarah Silverman hasn’t completely abandoned the shock-value jokes that put her on the map — and let’s be real, she probably never will — A Speck of Dust sees the now 40-something comedian slowing her roll a bit, mixing some charm and sincerity into the acid vat. Silverman’s newest offering touches on a litany of personal subjects, including the death of a beloved pet, and imbues some of her routines with a biting sense of self-awareness that effectively serves new material while deconstructing the old. If you’re here for the gross-out punchlines, they’re still around, but it no longer feels like the focus of her comedy, and we appreciate it.

Jim Gaffigan: Mr. Universe (2012)

Jim Gaffigan: Mr. Universe
Genre Comedy
Stars Jim Gaffigan
Directed by Jay Karas
77m
While Jim Gaffigan’s first stand-up specials, Beyond the Pale and King Baby, focused more on his eating habits, Mr. Universe sees the affable comic switching gears to talk more about … uh … his eating habits. Gaffigan, who was once named “The King of Clean” by the Wall Street Journal for his family-friendly subject matter, returns to the stage with more than an hour of jokes that fit seamlessly into his wheelhouse. Mr. Universe does achieve more balance than his previous shows, however, with Gaffigan leaning less on his famous “voice” (a soft falsetto he uses to criticize his own material as it’s performed) and showcasing material that’s more diverse than ever. The show closes with a riotous bit wherein Gaffigan speaks to an American Express representative over the phone, while continually breaking the fourth wall.

Jim Jefferies: Bare (2014)

Jim Jefferies: Bare
Genre Comedy
Directed by Shannon Hartman
Cast Jim Jefferies
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If you’re sensitive about coarse language, you might want to skip this one. Australian comedian Jim Jefferies is no stranger to offensive comedy: He was even once assaulted onstage by an angry fan. The attack didn’t deter Jefferies, though, it simply propelled him to new levels of popularity and vulgarity. Bare, Jefferies’ sixth stand-up special, features some of his finest and most deplorable work to date. His liberal use of certain volatile expletives lends a certain edge to his comedy, as does his subject matter. Bare runs the gamut from typical stand-up material (relationships and sex) to outlandish jokes centered around Paralympic pariah Oscar Pistorius, who was famously convicted of murdering his girlfriend. You might not agree with Jefferies or even like him, but you have to respect his chops.

John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City (2018)

John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City
Genre Comedy
Directed by Alex Timbers
Cast John Mulaney
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Following the overwhelming success of his first two specials, New in Town and The Comeback Kid, former SNL writer John Mulaney hit the big-time, as evidenced by the sellout crowd packing New York’s iconic Radio City Music Hall for his third taped performance (the second made specifically for Netflix). This time around, age has begun to catch up to Mulaney, who laments his body’s transformation into the “gross” period of life while acknowledging that he still kinda looks like a giant child. Thanks in part to some other comedic ventures that registered as both successes (Big Mouth) and failures (his short-lived sitcom Mulaney), the comic is sharper than ever here, mixing swaths of new subject matter in with his trademark self-deprecation.

Todd Glass: Act Happy (2018)

Todd Glass: Act Happy
Genre Comedy
Directed by Scott Moran
Cast Todd Glass, Duncan Carey, Eric Kalver
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Let’s get this out of the way: Todd Glass’ style of comedy is not for everyone. The oddball comic’s first Netflix special opens on his tour bus, as Glass addresses his “band,” encouraging them to treat the tiny Lyric Theater as if it were a … slightly less tiny theater. Glass’ show is half super-scripted, Bo Burnham-style performance art and half car-crash ad-libbing. He’s unafraid to go on ridiculous tangents and improvise wildly, involving the crowd in ways that few comedians even attempt. Glass’ subject matter ranges from the extremely mundane (a woman’s candy-eating habits on a plane flight) to the extremely personal (his struggles with sexual identity and his heart attack), but it’s all infused with the same unbridled energy that makes him a joy to watch perform.

Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979)

Richard Pryor: Live in Concert
Genre Comedy
Stars Richard Pryor, Jennifer Lee Pryor
Directed by Jeff Margolis
78m
Pryor’s no-holds-barred, profanity-laced comedic style influenced an entire generation of actors and stand-up comedians, as did the legendary stand-up film Live in Concert. Pryor’s physical, high-energy brand of comedy brings his jokes to life, as the troubled comic all but jumps off the screen. Live in Concert plays far better on a screen than it does through a set of speakers, as Pryor’s hyper-dramatized facial expressions truly bring his jokes to life. His manic mimicry is at its best when he’s joking about his own life, from snorting cocaine in front of grandma to stepping in the ring with Muhammad Ali. Forty years later, Pryor’s classic set holds up.

Ali Wong: Hard Knock Wife (2018)

Ali Wong: Hard Knock Wife
Genre Comedy
Directed by Jay Karas
Cast Ali Wong
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As you might have guessed by reading this far, women are depressingly underrepresented both in stand-up comedy as a whole and in Netflix’s library. Reprising her extremely-pregnant role from Baby Cobra, the 2016 Netflix special which shot her to stardom, Wong riffs on the difficulties of pregnancy and parenting with no regard for the stomachs of her audience. “Motherhood is a wack-ass job,” she tells us while primed to pump out kid No. 2 at any second. She’s similarly uninterested in riding the fence of political correctness, addressing questions of race and gender with brutal honesty befitting her high-octane style. Her comedy isn’t for everyone, but it’s undeniably powerful.

The Standups (2017)

The Standups
Genre Comedy
Cast Dan Soder, Beth Stelling, Nate Bargatze, Deon Cole, Fortune Feimster, Nikki Glaser
Seasons: 2
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This might be cheating, but we couldn’t in good conscience leave The Standups off our list. Rather than a single special from one comedian, this is an episodic show: two six-episode seasons are available to stream: that showcases a new comic for 30 minutes a stretch. Some are better than others, but they’re all worth watching, and they require a significantly shorter time commitment than the majority of our picks here. In particular, the episodes with Kyle Kinane and Aparna Nancherla are highlights of season 2, while Dan Soder stands out in the first season.

Hari Kondabolu: Warn Your Relatives (2018)

Hari Kondabolu: Warn Your Relatives
Genre Comedy
Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait
Cast Hari Kondabolu
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While he may, in his own words, “look like a Muppet getting his Ph.D.,” don’t let Hari Kondabolu’s non-threatening outward appearance fool you. Kondabolu has a unique and sometimes intense voice, especially when things get topical and he starts comparing American presidents to Mortal Kombat characters. As passionate as he is about subjects like race and sexism, he strikes a surprisingly easy balance with lighter material like how much funnier his mother is than him and his dreams of hosting a mango podcast. Warn Your Relatives is an hour of laughter both playful and political, and if nothing else is worth watching for his hilarious anecdote about getting heckled by fellow comedian Tracy Morgan.

Daniel Sloss: Live Shows (2018)

Daniel Sloss: Live Shows
Genre Comedy
Created by Daniel Sloss
Directed by Ryan Polito, Daniel Sloss
Cast Daniel Sloss
Seasons: 1
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Daniel Sloss has two specials on Netflix listed as episodes under Live Shows — Dark and Jigsaw. Both shows are hilarious triumphs. It’s practically trite at this point to say a comic’s humor is “no holds barred,” but when it comes to Sloss, it’s true not only in terms of his choice of language, but with some particularly sensitive subject matter like religion and the loss of loved ones. Sloss goes to uncomfortable places most comics won’t tread, delivering emotional gut-punches in the middle of bits gleefully laden with obscenities. He’s at times devilishly crude and other times so poignant he seems to be walking a line between a stand-up special and a one-man show. It would be worthless to recommend one special over another, because if you watch one you’re sure to watch the other.

Tom Papa: You're Doing Great! (2020)

Tom Papa: You're Doing Great!
Genre Comedy
Directed by Gregory Jacobs
Cast Tom Papa
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Tom Papa’s got something to say, and it’s the name of his 2020 special, You’re Doing Great. With his sharp observational humor, Papa looks at the anxieties of adult life in the 21st century — from the disproportionate joy of buying a new tube of toothpaste to the absurdity of TV makeovers. You’re Doing Great not only keeps you laughing the whole way through, but Papa gives it a surprisingly affecting message about turning off the voice that tells you that you’re never good enough and appreciating what you have. And he never misses an opportunity to poke fun at Staten Island.

Patton Oswalt: Annihilation (2017)

Patton Oswalt: Annihilation
Genre Comedy
Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait
Cast Patton Oswalt
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Annihilation was Patton Oswalt’s first stand-up special after the unexpected death of his first wife — true-crime writer Michelle McNamara — in 2016. He talks about the aftermath, particularly being faced with the sudden reality of raising his daughter alone, with poise and humor. But while he may get you to tear up a time or two, the special is more than therapy. While a good chunk of the second half deals with his loss, there’s still plenty of tear-jerk-free humor covering robocalls, bad haunted houses, and the best street fight Patton Oswalt ever saw.

Demetri Martin: The Overthinker (2018)

Demetri Martin: The Overthinker
Genre Comedy
Directed by Jay Karas
Cast Demetri Martin
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Demetri Martin brings his signature deadpan delivery to the stage in 2018’s The Overthinker. Martin seems a little looser than in earlier stand-ups, and unlike in his first Netflix special — 2016’s Live (At the Time) — his large white pad returns with his hilarious satirical cartoons, including his design for a p-shirt (as opposed to a t-shirt) and a graph tracking how well his jokes do. And as usual, we get about four minutes of guitar accompanying a stream of classic one-liners like “Nearly half of all Americans are torsos” and “Experts believe there’s about 25% more camouflage than we realize.”

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