The Best Stand-Up Comedy Specials Streaming On Paramount+

The Paramount+ logo
(Image credit: Paramount+)

Before the era of streaming, when Netflix became the prime spot for the best stand-up comedy specials, that honor was owned by Comedy Central. Now, considering the fact that the all-humor cable channel is owned by Paramount, those with a Paramount+ subscription can relive some of its greatest hours of comedy as performed by some the art form’s most legendary talents whenever they need a good laugh. Of course, Comedy Central originals are not the only titles we chose for our following list of the best stand-up comedy specials on Paramount+, as we'll lead with a theatrically released classic from the late 1980s. 

Eddie Murphy: Raw

(Image credit: Paramount)

Eddie Murphy: Raw (1987)

In the prime of his career, former Saturday Night Live cast member Eddie Murphy released a concert film that, according to Box Office Mojo, remains the highest grossing, theatrically-released stand-up comedy film of all time. Directed by Robert Townsend, Raw is a film that lives up to its title as it sees the legendary, leather-clad, future Academy Award nominee go off on everything from his love life to the struggles that come with fame with no filter whatsoever.

Stream Eddie Murphy: Raw on Paramount+.

Bo Burnham: Words, Words, Words

(Image credit: Paramount)

Bo Burnham: Words, Words, Words (2010)

More than a decade before changing the game of what a comedy special could be with Netflix’s Inside — which he filmed entirely on his own in one room during the Covid-19 lockdown — Bo Burnham released his very first stand-up special — which he filmed at Boston’s House of Blues — on Comedy Central. For anyone somehow unfamiliar with the internet sensation and later Promising Young Woman cast member, Words, Words, Words is a perfect introduction to his charming and irreverent wit, which he channels into haikus and catchy songs.

Stream Bo Burnham: Words, Words, Words on Paramount+.

John Mulaney: New In Town

(Image credit: Paramount)

John Mulaney: New In Town (2012)

While he was still writing for Saturday Night Live — for which he created the flamboyant Stefon with Bill HaderJohn Mulaney released his debut stand-up special on Comedy Central. In the aptly titled New in Town (which, as fans of the special should know, has a dual meaning), the comedian incorrectly predicts that an all-female version of Ocean’s Eleven could never happen and becomes uncomfortably transparent when revealing the time he lied about the reason for his doctor’s visit.

Stream John Mulaney: New In Town on Paramount+.

Hannibal Buress: Animal Furnace

(Image credit: Paramount)

Hannibal Buress: Animal Furnace (2012)

Just a couple years before he became one of the biggest stars in comedy for a bit that brought Bill Cosby’s sexual assault allegations into the mainstream, Hannibal Buress put his own debut stand-up special on Comedy Central. In Animal Furnace, the star of comedies like Neighbors and Tag, the MCU’s Spider-Man movies, and The Eric Andre Show comments on the likes of the TSA, strange lyrics to some of his favorite rap songs, and recalls his bitter reaction to getting his credit card stolen.

Stream Hannibal Buress: Animal Furnace on Paramount+.

Paul F. Tompkins: Laboring Under Delusions

(Image credit: Paramount)

Paul F. Tompkins: Laboring Under Delusions (2012)

Before Paul F. Tompkins made a living in making people laugh, he worked at a beta-exclusive video rental store, a hat store, and other quirky professions. He presents a collection of memories from each of these jobs — including some fun stories from his career post-fame, such as meeting Daniel Day-Lewis on the set of There Will Be Blood — in Laboring Under Delusions.

Stream Paul F. Tompkins: Laboring Under Delusions on Paramount+.

Kumail Nanjiani: Beta Male

(Image credit: Paramount)

Kumail Nanjiani: Beta Male (2013)

Before Kumail Nanjiani was an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter (for 2017’s The Big Sick), one of the stars of Marvel’s Eternals cast, and part of the Star Wars universe after joining Disney+’s Obi-Wan Kenobi cast, he made a living making people laugh. After seeing him talk about his childhood in Pakistan and reveal the things that he still fears the most as an adult in his debut special, Beta Male, I recommend also watching The Meltdown — a star-studded stand-up showcase he used to host with fellow comic, Jonah Ray.

Stream Kumail Nanjiani: Beta Male on Paramount+.

Kristen Schaal: Live At The Fillmore

(Image credit: Paramount)

Kristen Schaal: Live At The Fillmore (2013)

As a Daily Show correspondent, Mabel Pines on Gravity Falls, Carol Pilbasian on The Last Man on Earth, and Louise on Bob’s Burgers, to name a few, Kristen Schaal and her wonderfully distinct voice have been stealing the show on TV for years. Now, see her soak in the spotlight all on her own with her very first stand-up special that was filmed live at San Francisco’s Fillmore Theatre — hence the title, Live at the Fillmore.

Stream Kristen Schaal: Live At The Fillmore on Paramount+.

Pete Davidson in SMD

(Image credit: Viacom)

Pete Davidson: SMD (2016)

The title of Pete Davidson’s debut stand-up special refers to a couple of different things: there are the initials of his father — a firefighter who passed away on September 11, 2022 — and an acronym for a childish insult. Learn what it stands for, as well as a few other personal details and hilarious anecdotes, by checking out SMD, which is a must-see for any fans of the former Saturday Night Live star.

Stream Pete Davidson: SMD on Paramount+.

Demetri Martin. Person.

(Image credit: Paramount)

Demetri Martin. Person. (2007)

One of the smartest, most inventive, and simply weirdest stars of stand-up comedy is Demetri Martin, who also had a brief run as a Daily Show correspondent and later got his own show called Important Things. All you need to understand why he is considered such a unique presence can be found in the already strangely titled Demetri Martin. Person., in which he presents a series of thought-provoking topics through crudely illustrated visual aids on a large note pad, simultaneously plays the guitar and harmonica while telling jokes (but never actually in song), and posits the concept of where his jokes “go” through some collaborative, out-of-this-world performance art.

Stream Demetri Martin. Person. on Paramount+.

Esther Povitsky: Hot For My Name

(Image credit: Paramount)

Esther Povitsky: Hot For My Name (2020)

Rising comedy star Esther Povitsky lets you know right off the bat that she has a great sense of humor about herself with the title of her first full-length special, which is also borrowed from a direct quote she utters just minutes in. From Happy Madison productions, Hot for My Name is part stand-up concert movie and part documentary — featuring footage of her touring the country with her actual mother and father interspersed with Povitsky performing her material live — and also concludes with a semi-autobiographical music video, offering an amusing variety of reasons to laugh at the star comic’s expense.

Stream Esther Povitsky: Hot For My Name on Paramount+.

Jeff Ross Roasts Criminals: Live At The Brazos County Jail

(Image credit: Paramount)

Jeff Ross Roasts Criminals: Live At The Brazos County Jail (2015)

If you are a fan of watching people get roasted, there is no better person to follow than Jeff Ross, who is a staple of every Comedy Central Roast ever released — all of which are available to stream on Paramount+. However, if it is the Roastmaster General’s humor that you are craving specifically, out of all the great solo titles of his to choose from, we recommend this special, in which he pulls a Johnny Cash, so to speak, and entertains inmates at a prison in Brazos County, Texas by giving them a healthy ribbing.

Stream Jeff Ross Roasts Criminals: Live At The Brazos County Jail on Paramount+.

Anthony Jeselnik: Caligula

(Image credit: Paramount)

Anthony Jeselnik: Caligula (2013)

A comedian who is also famous for his ability to roast people and is willing to without applying any limitations on whom he targets or may offend is Anthony Jeselnik. However, you cannot deny that someone who dares to make light of even the most sensitive and tragic topics deserves some degree of commendation, and streaming Caligula — one of his best full-length specials — is a good way of showing it.

Stream Anthony Jeselnik: Caligula on Paramount+.

Wanda Sykes: Tongue Untied

(Image credit: Paramount)

Wanda Sykes: Tongue Untied (2003)

A living legend of comedy in her own right is Wanda Sykes, who some may recognize from her recurring role in HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm cast, from the 2006 rom-com Monster-in-Law, as Lucretia Turner on Netflix’s The Upshaws, or other scene-stealing roles. However, where she really shines the brightest is on stage, as seen in her 2003 stand-up special, Tongue Untied, in which she sounds off about the political landscape of the time and gives an inside scoop on her own risqué romantic philosophies.

Stream Wanda Sykes: Tongue Untied on Paramount+.

The Amazing Johnathan: Wrong On Every Level

(Image credit: Paramount)

The Amazing Johnathan: Wrong On Every Level (2006)

For some people, the same old routine of just one person standing in front of a crowd telling jokes into a microphone might not be enough and, for that, I recommend this special from The Amazing Johnathan called Wrong on Every Level. The magician/comedian — who passed away in 2022 at the age of 63 — performs some of his most impressive illusions, which are complimented by his brand of crude humor, with help from Penny Wiggins as “Psychic Tanya.”

Stream The Amazing Johnathan: Wrong On Every Level on Paramount+.

Patrice O’Neal: Elephant In The Room

(Image credit: Paramount)

Patrice O’Neal: Elephant In The Room (2011)

Another comedian who is unfortunately no longer with us is one-time The Office star Patrice O’Neal, who released his first full-length special, Elephant in the Room — which was filmed at Montreal Comedy Festival — the same year he passed away at the age of 41. After watching the comedian riff on topics like cheating in a relationship and harassment, learn more about him by also steaming the documentary Patrice O’Neal: Killin’ is Easy, which was released ten years after his death.

Stream Patrice O’Neal: Elephant In The Room on Paramount+.
Stream Patrice O’Neal: Killin’ is Easy on Paramount+.

These stand-up comedy specials on Paramount+ should keep you laughing all the way to the top of the mountain.

Jason Wiese
Content Writer

Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.