Amazon can deliver you packages and, if you let it, Amazon can deliver laughs. Along with its movies and television shows, Amazon Prime’s video streaming service includes plenty of hysterical stand-up comedy available to subscribers, from Prime original specials to oft-quoted comedy classics.
We’ve gone through all the stand-up comedy Prime has to offer and found the best of the best. Whether you’re looking for humor flavored with merciless social commentary, comedy that’s equal parts hilarity and confessional, or just good ol’ fashioned laughs that make you stomp in your seat, Prime has a stand-up special for you.
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Maria Bamford’s comedy is genius, and there’s no better proof than her 2020 special Weakness is the Brand. One of her overpowering strengths as a comic is her ability to make the most brilliantly constructed jokes come off as neurotic improvisation, and that’s never more fully on display than it is here. From hearing about the bizarre role-playing she enjoys with her husband, to stories about negotiating with her alma mater, to her deceptively adorable reminder that while it is not okay to visit harm upon certain politicians it’s perfectly legal to lead them “into a bramble,” Weakness Is the Brand is a delightful and hilarious watch.
Chris Porter is angry. He’s a simple man with simple tastes, living in a world increasingly crowded with aioli instead of mayo, gourmet cheese instead of the preferred “40% plastic” American brands, and cows “with hopes and dreams.” In his 2019 A Man From Kansas special, Porter’s acerbic commentary takes aim at flat-earthers, men who don’t know how to use tools, and the spreading of hipsters. His simple but sharp take on what’s wrong with the world is as funny as it is convincing.
Citing a ranting man in Reno who loudly accused the comic of having no hobbies, Josh Blue describes himself as a crazy person magnet in his 2020 special Broccoli. Wearing a black T-shirt bearing the title vegetable of the special and coming off like a time-lost hippy, Josh Blue revels in making his audience uncomfortable as much as he keeps them howling. From lamenting the choice to move downwind from a dog chow factory to the comic’s self-deprecating humor about his cerebral palsy, Blue will keep you laughing as well as wondering about the awkward benefits of using your lips to point rather than your fingers.
Eddie Pepitone is the good cop and the bad cop, the prophet of doom and the calming voice of, well, still pretty much doom. In his 2020 special For the Masses, Pepitone creates a perfect, crazy opera — ranting angrily one moment and then shrinking to a softly voiced observational comic in the next. He either turns gags in directions you never expect, or goes exactly where you knew he was going but somehow still manages to shock you. As much as his subject matter revolves around heavy and depressing topics, For the Masses will rip the laughter out of you whether you like it or not (you will).
In her 2020 Amazon Original special, Serious Black Jumper, Jayde Adams wants to educate you. She gives you a crash course in the history of feminism, “yoof-‘splaining” for the over-50 crowd, and ably demonstrates how all you have to do to force the world to take you seriously is wear a black turtleneck. The sharply witty and brilliant British comic delivers a hilarious hour of social commentary mixed with good, plain fun.
Before 2010, the popular comic Sinbad hadn’t been in his own stand-up special since 1998’s Nothin’ But the Funk. He makes his return to the stage with Where U Been? The comic deals with the eponymous question before the curtains even part, getting the audience laughing with references to rumors of his death as well as his public issues with the IRS over his own version of Prince and the Revolution’s 1984 hit Let’s Go Crazy. What follows is a triumphant reminder of why the comic had audiences rolling in their seats in the ’90s.
The Great Depresh isn’t the only Gary Gulman special streaming on Amazon Prime. The service also offers his specials Boyish Man, In This Economy?, and It’s About Time to its members and all are worth watching. But The Great Depresh is unique. Interspersed with scenes of Gulman with his partner, mother, and therapist, the special is an excellent fusion of comedy and confessional. Gulman is blunt about his disappearance from the stand-up scene, his struggles with mental health, and what it’s taken to get back in front of the mic. Amazingly, he does it all without seeming to sacrifice a single laugh.
Whether you’re familiar with Al Madrigal’s work on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart or not, you’ll want to check out his 2017 special Shrimpin’ Ain’t Easy. While it shouldn’t be too surprising that a Daily Show veteran’s comedy strays into political arenas here and there, for the most part, his subjects are universal. With sharp insight and perfect delivery, Madrigal will have you busting a gut with his bits about the tooth fairy, rumors of Mexican cilantro defilement, and the strange world of Yelp reviewers.
When George Carlin died in 2008, we lost a satirical genius. Thankfully, his work remains and Amazon Prime has quite a few of his stand-up specials available for streaming. Any one of those specials could easily find a home on this list, but 1992’s Jammin in New York stands out as one of his most eloquently cutting performances. Equal parts anger and gleeful apathy, Jammin in New York sees Carlin lay siege to the sport of golf, give more good ideas about solving homelessness than we’ve heard in years, celebrate newsworthy carnage, and ends the special with his still infamous assault on environmentalists.
In the opening moments of Jim Gaffigan’s 2019 Quality Time special, the comic pats his stomach and says “This is what I look like. It’s mostly my fault.” And that sets the tone for the comic’s charming and childlike self-deprecating humor. Still obsessed with food, Gaffigan kicks things up to a new level with Quality Time. He goes to the rarely explored areas of cannibal humor, as well as discussing what it’s like to try reindeer meat right after Christmas. As usual, we get not only Gaffigan’s stand-up but his hilarious whiny-voice internal critic responding to his jokes.
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