The best stand-up comedy on Netflix right now (May 2019)

Sit down and watch some of the best stand-up comedy on Netflix

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

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.

Watch them now on:

Netflix

Jim Gaffigan: Mr. Universe

Jim Gaffigan Mr. Universe

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.

Watch it now on:

Netflix

Jim Jefferies: Bare

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.

Watch it now on:

Netflix

John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City

John Mulaney Kid Gorgeous at Radio City

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.

Watch it now on:

Netflix

Todd Glass: Act Happy

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.

Watch it now on:

Netflix

Richard Pryor: Live in Concert

Richard Pryor Live in Concert

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.

Watch it now on:

Netflix

Ali Wong: Hard Knock Wife

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.

Watch it now on:

Netflix

The Standups

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.

Watch it now on:

Netflix

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