Those in need of a good laugh can usually find exactly what they are looking for on Netflix. The streaming service is well known for releasing a countless number of stand-up comedy specials, and thankfully so.
Netflix has sparked the onstage revival of various beloved comic legends or has served as the home for many of comedy’s most promising voices’ first live specials. Either way, it has marked an exciting time for stand-up culture by having the best in the business available at your fingertips.
As you can see, however, there are almost too many stand-up comedy specials to choose from, so what are the funniest available to stream now? Let us see if we can help you narrow down your choices for your next night of laughs by ranking the 10 funniest stand-up comedy specials available on Netflix.
10. Anthony Jeselnik - Thoughts and Prayers
By hitting play on this 2015 Netflix stand up comedy special, you are agreeing to kiss your sensitive side goodbye. Anthony Jeselnik, a championing frequent staple of Comedy Central roasts, proudly owns a reputation for specializing in comedy that does not just hit, but stabs and shoots repeatedly, right where it hurts and Thoughts and Prayers, his first Netflix original is no exemption.
Anthony Jeselnik brings his politically incorrect brand of comedy to the politically correct city of San Francisco where dishes on how he crafts his own family into his jokes (imagining them as either pedophiles or substance abusers), reveals his irreverent take on the unrealistic expectations set up by Barbie dolls, and looks back on poking fun at high-profile tragedies on Twitter the day they happen. He is certainly not for the easily offended, but if you have a comedy-loving dark side, Thoughts and Prayers should be enough satisfy it. Stream it here.
9. Iliza Shlesinger - Elder Millennial
Winner of the 2008 season of NBC’s stand-up based reality competition series Last Comic Standing, Iliza Shlesinger has gained a large enough following in comedy by now that only her first name is needed in the titles of her specials. In her third Netflix original stand-up special, Iliza: Elder Millennial, she explains just what it means to hold such a title and how it informs her opinions of society.
Iliza Shlesinger reenacts the typical night of a single thirty-something, explains the primitive piece of technology known as a “landline,” and shares the not-so-surprising story of how she met her fiancé on a dating app. She is a comedian of high energy that complements her sharp, thoughtful wit beautifully in this 2018 comedy special. Stream it here.
8. Trevor Noah - Afraid of the Dark
As the successor of hosting duties for Comedy Central’s The Daily Show after Jon Stewart, it is clear that Trevor Noah has an eye for politics. However, in his first Netflix stand-up comedy special, he lightens his commentary on the state of America (well, just a little) to cover a wide range of topics with his signature energy.
Trevor Noah talks about his South African upbringing, apologizes to the women in his audience on behalf of the “creeps” within the male population, and reveals why he is, as the title of his comedy special teases, afraid of the dark. If you happen to be a Jon Stewart purist who has not seen The Daily Show since his exit out of protest, maybe you can at least test the waters of what the show is now with this clever, fun 2017 comedy special. Stream it here.
7. Tom Segura - Disgraceful
Perhaps you caught Tom Segura on the big screen this past fall in the technophobic horror movie Countdown. If not, maybe you’ve seen him perform in one of his Netflix comedy specials. If not, I would recommend beginning with his 2018 stand-up act Disgraceful.
The comedian himself does not particularly exhibit signs of being what the title of this stand-up comedy special suggests, but “disgraceful” would certainly be a proper way of defining the many topics he explores, such as a visit to an adult entertainment store, finding the humor in mental disabilities, and the satisfaction of letting an elevator door close on a stranger. Tom Segura’s brand of observational humor is refreshing in how it trades brutal honesty for off-beat absurdity that often veers on the edge of uncomfortable relatability. Stream it here.
6. Ellen Degeneres - Relatable
Most people today know Ellen Degeneres as one of America’s favorite daytime talk show hosts or the voice of Dory in Finding Nemo, but are unaware of her history as a stand-up comic. Her first Netflix comedy special, which dropped on the streaming service in late 2018, sees her returning to the stage for the first time since 2003.
The title of Relatable refers to an acquaintance of the comedian who feared her relatability onstage might be hindered by the comfortable celebrity lifestyle she now leads, an assumption she pokes fun at brilliantly. Ellen Degeneres also comments on her marriage to Portia DeRossi, how being open about her lesbianism cost her a primetime sitcom and made her transition to daytime just as difficult, and the strain of her reputation to always be kind. Stream it here.
5. Marc Maron - Too Real
He has found success from starring in the Netflix series GLOW, a brief appearance in the box office smash Joker, and, most especially, interviewing Hollywood’s finest as host of the highly rated podcast WTF. But 56-year-old Marc Maron got his start as a comic and you can see him at his best in his 2017 Netflix stand-up comedy special Too Real.
He spends most of the hour not standing, but sitting atop a stool, venting his frustrations over America’s divisive culture, not knowing how much time he has left to dedicate to streaming documentaries, and his own inability to have fun, even when attending a Rolling Stones concert. Marc Maron does often get “too real” and maybe even a little too angry sometimes (i.e. his priceless ironic reaction to a strange housecat showing up at his doorstep), but, thankfully, he has successfully mastered the craft of turning his misery into your pleasure. Stream it here.
4. Donald Glover - Weirdo
Donald Glover is a multi-threat of incomparable talent as the creator and star of FX’s Emmy-winning Atlanta, moonlighting as Grammy-winning recording artist Childish Gambino, playing a young Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars prequel Solo: A Star Wars Story, and most recently providing the voice of Simba in Jon Favreau’s remake of The Lion King. Did I also mention that he is riotous stand-up comedian, too?
In his first stand-up comedy special, Weirdo, which originally aired on Comedy Central in 2012, Donald Glover shows how different he is from his character on Community by commenting on the controversies of his rumored casting as Spider-Man (long before he appeared in Spider-Man: Homecoming), dishing on the inherent evil of children, and defending Charlie Sheen as deserving street cred in the black community. His magnetic, charming onstage presence makes even the most shocking topics sound endearing from his mouth, making it one of the funniest non-Netflix-original comedy specials you can find on Netflix. Stream it here.
3. Neal Brennan - 3 Mics
You may not recognize Neal Brennan by name, but you surely would recognize his work, given he is the co-creator of the iconic Comedy Central sketch comedy series Chappelle’s Show and the co-writer of the 1998 stoner classic Half Baked. In 2017, the secret weapon to Dave Chappelle’s career came out of hiding in the remarkably unique Netflix comedy special 3 Mics.
While other stand-up comedy specials begin with the comic grabbing a mic and off they go, Neal Brennan’s stage is set up with three microphones, each one reserved for a different purpose: clever one-liners, traditional stand-up bits, and personal stories. It is when he stands at that third mic that Brennan truly shines, boldly exposing the darker moments of his life that he continues to struggle with today. 3 Mics is an astounding achievement in mixing comedy with tragedy to rewarding effect. Stream it here.
2. John Mulaney - Kid Gorgeous at Radio City
John Mulaney has grown to become one of the most exciting names in comedy, from creating Saturday Night Live’s Stefon with Bill Hader to lending his voice to the fitting role of Spider-Ham in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It makes sense that he would eventually find himself performing at a venue as prestigious as New York’s Radio City Music Hall, but that does not stop him from commenting on the very absurdity of that concept in his Emmy-winning 2018 Netflix stand-up comedy special Kid Gorgeous.
The comic’s classically-trained stand-up style, complemented by his formal wardrobe and choice to carry a mic with a wire attached, adds a refreshing energy to his commentary on the revolting biology of reaching middle-age, his interfaith marriage to his Jewish wife, and the shocking audacity of his alma mater to request money from him long after graduation. That is just the tip of the iceberg of where John Mulaney dares to go with his precocious, razor-sharp wit in a stand-up comedy special that demands repeat viewings. Stream it here.
1. Dave Chappelle - The Age of Spin
Is there a better comedian alive today than Dave Chappelle? Regardless of how his most recent Netflix special, Sticks and Stones, may have rubbed off on you, you have to admit that his intelligent observation, fearless expression, and effortless delivery is unlike anyone anything seen in the world of comedy, now before his time, and I see no better proof of that than the first of his exclusive series of Netflix stand-up comedy specials, The Age of Spin.
Filmed live at the Hollywood Palladium, this Grammy-winning 2017 Netflix stand-up comedy special saw the triumphant return of Dave Chappelle to the mainstream after a long hiatus following his controversial decision to leave his groundbreaking Comedy Central series, which is easily the lightest of topics he touches on before riffing on everything from racism to sexuality and recalling his multiple encounters with O.J. Simpson. The act bears witness to a unique blend of the comedian’s signature brutal honesty and genuine sincerity in even his harshest takes that assures a night of uproarious, crowd-pleasing hilarity without a moment of pause. Stream it here.
What do you think of our ranking of Netflix’s most hilarious stand-up comedy specials? Does it bring back laugh-filled memories or did you shed a tear at seeing your favorite comic missing from the list? Let us know in the comments!
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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