Has the Coronavirus got you feeling blue because your favorite comedian had to cancel his gig in your hometown? Are you too afraid to leave your house in fear of becoming the next person to catch the virus that is making its way across the globe at a staggering pace? With the Coronavirus forcing people to avoid fun activities like stand-up comedy shows, we've compiled a list of some of the best comedy specials streaming right now that will make your living room feel like your very own private comedy club.
Comedy specials on streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and HBO Now are a dime a dozen, which makes it difficult to decide on which one to start up when you're looking for an hour or so of side-splitting laughs. That's where we come in. If you can't go to the club yourself, and you're afraid of falling into the infinite abyss that is Netflix's browsing options, look no further than this list of 10 hilarious stand-up comedy specials to stream if you're missing out on live comedy.
We've gone back and found the best from yesterday and today in hopes of making the most diverse list possible.
Ali Wong: Baby Cobra (Netflix)
Most people will recognize Ali Wong from the hit Netflix original movie Always Be My Maybe, but some might be surprised to discover that the star of the beloved romantic comedy is also a filthy, unapologetic comedian with a few stand-up specials under her belt. All of this, and more, are seen in her latest comedy special.
The writer/actress/comedian burst out on to the scene in the 2016 Netflix comedy special, Ali Wong: Baby Cobra, in which a very pregnant Wong opens up about everything from trying to get pregnant, feminism, and her thoughts on becoming a mother. There's one segment in particular where Wong pokes fun at the low bar that society has set for fathers compared to the unrealistic expectations of mothers. Stream it on Netflix (opens in new tab).
John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous At Radio City Music Hall (Netflix)
Watch Saturday Night Live enough and you'll start asking yourself - Who is this guy that shows up once a year, performs some insane musical number set in a bodega or airport, and then disappears for 12 months? The man behind those satirical, yet somehow beautiful performances just so happens to be a comedian, and his name is John Mulaney.
Over the course of his career, Mulaney has found himself go from struggling stand-up comedian to a writer on the hottest comedy show (SNL) and then back to the comedy world, where he's become one of the biggest names in the business thanks to his brand of semi-autobiographical, self-deprecating humor. This is best shown in his Emmy Award-winning special, John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous At Radio City, where Mulaney goes from sharing the story of when Mick Jagger told him he wasn't funny to comparing a certain president to a horse in a hospital. Stream it on Netflix (opens in new tab).
Dan Soder: Son Of A Gary (HBO)
Better known for his role as Dudley Mafee on the Showtime original series Billions, Dan Soder has quietly become one of the best stand-up comedians in the business following appearances on different late night shows, radio programs, and podcasts. With one of the most distinctive voices in the business, it's only a matter of time before this brutally honest comedian is a household name.
Soder is more than on his way to stardom with his first HBO comedy special, Dan Soder: Son Of A Gary, which was released in late 2019. During this one-hour special, Soder is able to find the humor in his father's early death, share his experience with a Lil Wayne song, and how he doesn't hate crying babies on an airplane. Stream it on HBO.
Dave Chappelle: Killin' Them Softly (HBO)
Since we're on the topic of HBO comedy specials, now would be a perfect time to talk about one of the channel's most beloved and well regarded stand-up specials of all time - Dave Chappelle: Killin' Them Softly. This was more or less the breakout performance from the comedian who would go on to create one of the greatest sketch comedy shows on the past 20 years followed by a string of Netflix specials.
But still, you have to go back to the beginning to see the true potential of a star in the making. Killin' Them Softly gave us some of the most classic moments from Chappelle's career, including talking about being afraid of calling the cops and his entire spiel about the mistreatment of Oscar The Grouch on Sesame Street. Sometimes it's easy to forget that this special first aired 20 years ago. Stream it here.
Doug Stanhope: Beer Hall Putsch (Amazon)
I will be the first to admit that Doug Stanhope isn't for everyone. The raunchy, opinionated, stuck in his ways comedian often shares depressing tales of substance abuse, loss, and the deaths of loved ones. But if you actually give Stanhope a moment to shine, you will be on the floor holding your side in pain from laughing so much.
That's the case for his 2013 special Doug Stanhope: Beer Hall Putsch, where the one-time Man Show co-host goes into great detail about the night his helped his terminally ill mother end her own life. It sounds depressing, and it is, but Stanhope manages to find humor in the story of his mother's own undoing. And for a fleeting moment, Stanhope opens up about grieving someone after a disease ruined their very being right before jumping into another joke. Stream it here (opens in new tab).
Jenny Slate: Stage Fright (Netflix)
Jenny Slate, the former SNL cast-member who dropped an F-bomb on her first night on television and was subsequently fired for other reasons, has built herself up to be one of the hardest working actresses, writers, and comedians in the business. In the 10 years following her departure from the sketch comedy show, Slate has starred in a number of well-received films, written her own book, and even released her first stand-up special on Netflix.
Jenny Slate: Stage Fright is one part traditional stand-up comedy special combined with one part introspective documentary, making one of the most original takes on the format in recent memory. And while Slate takes some time to become comfortable on stage, by the end of it the special, she has the crowd eating out of her hands. Throughout the one-hour special, Slate welcomes the audience and viewers at home into her life where she strips off her humorous demeanor for some of the most tender and personal moments. Stream it here (opens in new tab).
Hasan Minhaj - Homecoming King (Netflix)
Over the course of the past few years, Hasan Minhaj has gone from Daily Show correspondent to host of the White House Correspondents' Dinner to the host of his very own Netflix talk show, Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj, and during that time the Indian-American has become one of the most prolific and controversial voices in the media.
Prior to landing a full-time gig with Netflix, Minhaj and the streaming platform worked together to bring the comedian's one-man show, Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King to a larger audience. Throughout the special, Minhaj focuses on immigrants in the United States by telling stories from his own upbringing as a second-generation Indian-American. There are sad times and there are funny moments, but the special as a whole is something to really take in. Plus, it has one of the greatest set designs I've ever seen. Stream it here (opens in new tab).
Iliza Shlesinger - Elder Millennial (Netflix)
There is a lot of buzz surrounding Iliza Shlesinger right now following the release of the new Netflix original movie, Spenser Confidential, in which the actress/comedian co-stars alongside Mark Wahlberg and Winston Duke. What better time to shed light on her stellar stand-up comedy career than now.
In addition to starring in a Netflix original movie, Shlesinger has released five stand-up specials with the streaming giant dating back to 2013. The best of the bunch is the comedian's 2018 special, Elder Millennial where we see a recently engaged Shlesinger talk about the pitfalls of dating, the true disgusting nature of women, and a future in which she has to explain a "landline" to young children. Throughout the 72-minute routine, the then 35-year-old Shlesinger remains brutally honest about her past, her present, and whatever the future holds. Stream it here (opens in new tab).
Eddie Murphy - Raw (Showtime)
There's no bigger stand-up special than Eddie Murphy: Raw, which brought in over $50 million during its theatrical run in the United States and Canada. Released at the height of Eddie Murphy's career (in between Beverly Hills Cop II and Coming To America), Raw remains something to be seen, even to this day.
Not one to step down in the face of controversy (at least not at this time), Murphy pokes fun at the people who were offended by the jokes in his previous special, Delirious, before jumping into a long rant about Bill Cosby. Admittedly, a lot of the jokes in the first few minutes of Raw have not aged well at all and are far off from the person Murphy would become later in his career. Stream it here.
Bill Hicks - Revelations (Amazon)
Sometimes I like to imagine what the world would be like if Bill Hicks were still alive today. The brash, intelligent, and vocal comedian died at the age of 32 years from pancreatic cancer in February 1994, leaving behind a legacy of some of the most prolific catalogs of material in his wake. Prior to his death, nothing was off limits for Hicks, who joked about politics, religion, and even his own death.
Less than a year before his death, Hicks released what would become his final special, Revelations, which included one of the late comedian's most memorable bits - "It's just a ride." During this short, two-minute segment, Hicks tells the audience that life is going to have its ups and downs and that we shouldn't let life get us down. Sometimes, especially now, we could all use some more Bill Hicks in our lives. Stream it here (opens in new tab).
Those are just 10 of the best stand-up comedy specials we could find. Who knows, if this Coronavirus outbreak gets much worse, we might need to make a second list.
Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.
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