Over the past few years Netflix has invested heavily in standup comedy. Between offering huge contracts to some of the greatest comics ever, upping the production of their own standup specials and increasing the amount of non-Netflix specials, there is a ton of standup material on Netflix. The investment could have been questioned at the time; it appears to have paid off because standup specials on Netflix just make sense. They are fun to casually watch and it is easy to slip into a hole and watch several in one sitting. Netflix now is the place to go for good standup and that reputation is worth a lot. I love this pairing because I love standup comedy. I spend a lot of time on Netflix just browsing and trying different specials. I have been introduced to some comedians that I would have never seen if not for Netflix. I’ve also been able to catch up on some legends (and legendary specials) that I should have already seen. That is the beauty of standup being so prevalent on Netflix.
With that being said, I’ve made a list of five must see standup specials streaming on Netflix. These could be Netflix specials or specials that have just found their way to Netflix. These are also pulled from any time because sometimes (like I assume most people are) I get to specials late or get to a comedian late. Netflix has a seemingly endless amount of standup specials and it was tough to narrow it down but these five have stuck with me long after I watched them. If you are looking for a good laugh, these five specials should do the trick.
5 Must See Stand Up Comedy Specials on Netflix
5. Ali Wong – Hard Knock Wife
I wasn’t familiar with Ali Wong before I watched this special, I hadn’t seen her first special Baby Cobra, and she isn’t what I was expecting. I didn’t quite know what to expect but the baby bump, leopard print dress and the Wu-Tang song definitely caught me off guard. Once her set started, it all made sense because her comedy is just as aggressive. Hard Knock Wife is her second Netflix special and is focused on motherhood and marriage. Her sharp commentary is paired perfectly with her dry delivery and makes for a great set. Her set is so well written that it’s hilarious regardless of your perspective. If you can relate or not, Hard Knock Wife will have you laughing for about an hour straight.
4.Jo Koy – Live from Seattle
Jo Koy is a comic that I’ve been familiar with for a while so it was great to see his standup from 2017, Live from Seattle, on Neflix. As I expected it was absolutely hilarious. Live from Seattle works for a lot of reasons but the first thing that jumps out is his energy. It jumps through the screen and draws you in. On top of that, he is a surgical comedian and he delivered a flawless set. His experience is noticeable. His set builds, has perfectly timed callbacks and transitioned perfectly. Before you know it, the hour has flown by. The special stays at its best when he is talking about being raised by his Filipino mother and raising his teenage son. Most of the special is spent on those topics and it is incredibly funny. This is a great hour of comedy to escape into.
3. Tom Segura – Disgraceful
A friend of mine recommended this special to me. I had never heard of him and within five minutes of his 2018 special, Disgraceful, he became one of my favorite comics. He’s brash, unapologetic and intensely funny. His dry humor and sarcasm are incredible. Those are the type of comedians I like and Tom Segura is one of the best. Disgraceful is interesting because he runs right up to the line of what is politically correct and just dances all over it. With the state that America is in, it was a bit surprising to see a comic spend so much time there but it also made for a hilarious set. It’s funny to see a smart comic make fun of how ridiculous we all are and that’s what Segura does for the whole set. If you are easily offended, this probably isn’t the comic for you but if you’re not, then watch Disgraceful as soon as you can.
2. Patton Oswalt – Annihilation
I’ve been a fan of Patton Oswalt for a while now. I hadn’t followed his standup too closely but I’ve enjoyed his other work, so I wasn’t all that surprised that his most recent special, Annihilation, was incredible. A good portion of this special is focused on the President, which isn’t all that surprising since there is so much good material there. The brilliance of this special is that it didn’t feel tired at all. Oswalt is incredibly smart and witty, so the angle he takes is both refreshing and funny. However, Annihilation isn’t on this list because of his political commentary, it’s because of the heart that is present. Typically standup comedy doesn’t have a lot of emotional moments, but this one does. The second half of the special is focused on how he dealt with his wife passing, including telling his daughter about it. The angst and pain is present on his face the whole time but his honesty creates a connection unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in a standup special. The humor that he was able to find was nice to break the tension but it also seemed therapeutic for him, which spoke volumes. We essentially watched him grieve and process everything. It’s a funny special, an emotional special and a special unlike anything that you’ll ever see.
1. Hannah Gadsby – Nanette
I heard about this special on a podcast that I’m a fan of, /Filmcast (which is a great podcast and is also responsible for my introduction to Ali Wong). I wasn’t familiar with Hannah Gadsby or her prior work, but I gave it a shot and what I got was an incredible experience. Nanette is so much more than a standup special. It’s empowering, enlightening, encouraging and still incredibly funny. The special starts like any other special and Hannah shows herself to be very charming and witty. She runs through her experience as a lesbian comic and addresses sexism and some other forms of intolerance. It’s a great start to the set, but a little while in it turns when she starts talking about wanting to quit comedy. I don’t want to say too much about where the special goes but it is an incredible experience. Hannah Gadsby is incredibly smart and her view of the world is incredible. She balances the weight of heavy topics with sharp humor. That humor is brilliantly placed to cut the tension, most of the time. By the time this special ended, I was speechless and had to spend some time digesting what I just watched. This special is something that should be seen by everyone because of the message behind it and the honesty in which Hannah delivers it. I’ll let the experience speak for itself, go watch it.