Last Updated: January 11th
The past few years have seen a rigorous expansion of stand-up comedy after years of neglect. Hence why there are hundreds of titles in Netflix’s stand-up category. Even for budding comedy fans, there’s a lot of must-see specials to choose from.
So here are the 25 best stand-up specials on Netflix right now. While they may be ranked, they’re all really good and deserving of your time and laughs.
1. Hannah Gadsby, Nanette
Run Time: 69 min | IMDb: 8.5/10
You’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard about Australian comic Hannah Gadsby and her must-watch stand-up special. The woman from Down Under is all anyone can talk about right now and for good reason. Her hour-long set is changing the way we think about comedy, chucking the ironic detachment in the trash and instead, offering up a bit of humor interlaced with moving reflections on life. Most of Gadsby’s routine chronicles the joys and hardships of being a queer woman — her childhood in Tasmania, her praise for Monica Lewinsky, her commentary on why sexuality and comedy go hand-in-hand — but she also claps back against the idols of her early life, men like Louis C.K. who’ve now become the problem. In other words, Gadsby’s not holding any punches with this one.
2. Dave Chappelle, The Age of Spin
Run Time: 67 min | IMDb: 8/10
It’s difficult to miss Dave Chappelle while skimming through Netflix’s comedy offerings. After all, in less than a year, the Chappelle’s Show star and co-creator debuted four — yes, four — stand-up specials on the streaming platform. Depending on who you ask, the latter two specials —Equanimity and The Bird Revelation — are either additional examples of his brilliance or signs of a celebrity rushing to maintain his cultural relevance. The first two, however — Deep in the Heart of Texas and The Age of Spin — fare much better. This is especially true of Spin, which is regarded by critics and audiences alike as one of Chappelle’s better comedy offerings in recent memory. Of course, this is Chappelle we’re talking about, so none of these routines are without their share of controversy.
3. Hasan Minhaj, Homecoming King
Run Time: 73 min | IMDb: 8.3/10
The Daily Show’s Hasan Minhaj uses his Netflix stand-up special, Homecoming King, to weave an intricate and hilarious account of his life as a son of Indian-American immigrants. Sure that means there are plenty of funny cultural learning curves. Minhaj describes how his dad took him to Home Depot instead of Toys-R-Us for his birthday and how he struggled to fit in with a “bunch of Ryan Lochte’s” in high school, but what really makes this special stand out is how Minhaj manages to be bluntly honest about the difficulties of being brown in America without ranting about Muslim bans, Trump’s presidency, and other obvious issues that have been touched on before.
4. Jim Jefferies, Bare
Run Time: 77 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
Australian comedian Jim Jefferies isn’t new to stand-up, either in the United States or elsewhere, but his name was passed around frequently after the San Bernardino shooting. This is largely due to Bare, which premiered on Netflix in 2014. Jeffries, who released a new special, Freedumb in July, spends a large chunk of the routine discussing guns and gun control in the United States, and how his home country responded differently to an infamous mass shooting in 1996. Jefferies’ approach is polemic at times, but it more often that not focuses on the comedy to be surprisingly gained by poking fun at the perilous moral and political conundrum the U.S. still finds itself in today. Then again, Jefferies’ comedy isn’t just about politics — everything from fatherhood to granting an old friend a lifelong wish is included, and it’s all wonderful.
5. Bo Burnham, Make Happy
Run Time: 60 min | IMDb: 8.4/10
Comedic prodigy Bo Burnham returns with a comedy special that feels decidedly more grown up. In Make Happy, Burnham takes an unflinching look at the entertainment industry, doling out jabs to rap artists, country bros, Lip Sync Battle, and even his own work. His rapid-fire one-liners and ability to cut to the bone on more serious issues only beefs up this special, which manages to take on a darker tone while still making us laugh.
6. John Mulaney, Kid Gorgeous at Radio City
Run Time: 65 min | IMDb: 7.7/10
John Mulaney doubles-down in his self-effacing humor in his latest comedy special. The guy’s still a tall, lanky, baby-faced bro who likes to rib on himself and point out the blatantly baffling norms of society, but he’s doing it on a bigger stage, one that feels in tune with his old Hollywood vibe. In this new stand-up, Mulaney eviscerates pretty much everything (school assemblies, aging, manners, church) with his patented good-humored charm. He even manages to wade into the tricky political arena with horse comparisons and the refusal to name a certain orange-haired president. In other words, Mulaney’s at his best here, and the Emmys thought so too.
7. Richard Pryor, Live in Concert
Run Time: 78 min | IMDb: 8.2/10
Aside from new, original and other licensed specials, no comedy aficionado with a Netflix subscription can ignore Richard Pryor‘s seminal 1979 film, Live in Concert. Spearheaded by the influential concert film director Jeff Margolis, Live in Concert was the first feature-length film to entirely focus on a stand-up comedy routine. Previous films or television specials had included stand-up performances in their various mixes, but Live in Concert was the first to do nothing but. Hailed by Pryor devotee Eddie Murphy as “the single greatest stand-up performance ever captured on film,” Live in Concert went on to garner Pryor a Best Actor nomination from the National Society of Film Critics, and set the blueprint for all comedy specials to follow.
8. Chelsea Peretti, One of the Greats
Run Time: 74 min | IMDb: 7/10
Most viewers will recognize Chelsea Peretti from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, in which she plays the precinct’s cynical civilian administrator Gina Linetti. The actress is also known for her work as a writer for numerous programs, including Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation. Hence her 2014 Netflix special, One of the Greats, which is a purposefully overwritten hour rife with almost as much comedy about comedy as straight stand-up. Self-reflective character work usually isn’t always for everyone (as comedian Ralphie May proved during a Twitter rant a year after the special was released), but Peretti pulls it off without breaking a sweat. It’s great fun to watch on its own, but Peretti’s One of the Greats works especially well when viewed immediately after a typical stand-up special. (Much like watching Robin Hood: Men in Tights after Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.)
9. Mike Birbiglia, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend
Run Time: 76 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
Like most of the comedians on this list, Mike Birbiglia is by no means a one-trick pony. From acting in feature films like Trainwreck to writing and directing his own full-length projects, the stand-up has seemingly done it all. When it comes to his onstage performances, however, Birbiglia is definitely one of the most fantastic comics working today. This sentiment is best reflected (and proven) by his 2013 special My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, a deeply personal reflection that trades moments of complete sincerity for crazy, across-the-stage antics reminiscent of Sam Kinison. (Except with way less drug use. Like, none whatsoever.) Add to that the Massachusetts native’s uncanny ability to weave together multiple trains of thought into an otherwise steady story — replete with digressions that still make sense by the end — and viewers will find themselves at the wheel of a wild ride.
10. Jen Kirkman, I’m Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine)
Run Time: 78 min | IMDb: 6.9/10
When it comes to observational comedy, dating, relationships, weddings, divorce and the single life often take center stage. Many comics (celebrated and otherwise) have broached these topics over the years, but Jen Kirkman‘s 2015 Netflix special, I’m Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine) brilliantly spins all five into a beautiful bit of storytelling that’s rife with one-liners and devoid of mere complaints. The Chelsea Lately and Drunk History alum has been doing stand-up since the ’90s, though her career took off with several television appearances, acting gigs and writing stints during the early 2000s. She also has two other fantastic stand-up albums: Self Help and Hail to the Freaks.
11. Demetri Martin, The Overthinker
Run Time: 56 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
Demetri Martin doesn’t get the respect he deserves. With his bowl cut and affinity for drawing diagrams during sets, he’s often labeled a “hipster” comedian and pushed to the background of the comic scene. The dud is still drawing in his latest special and using his Netflix platform to textually call his own bluff (there are subtitles, lots of subtitles), but he’s also pushing his form, experimenting with his material, and proving why he deserves to be in the conversation. Oh, and he’s calling some needlessly aggressive letters of the alphabet out on their B.S.
12. Trevor Noah, Afraid of the Dark
Run Time: 67 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
Trevor Noah has been doing a fantastic job manning The Daily Show after Jon Stewart’s exit. He’s been able to pair his wide-eyed foreigner status with some shrewd commentary on American culture and politics. He does the same in this Netflix special, his first, which sees him recounting his Coming to America story and throwing in an array of accents to address the growing nationalism trend that’s affecting the entire world at this point. Serious stuff, but Noah finds a way to make us laugh in spite of everything
13. Anthony Jeselnik, Thoughts and Prayers
Run Time: 59 min | IMDb: 7.8/10
If Mitch Hedberg were still alive and outrageously offensive, he might resemble Anthony Jeselnik. Best known for his dark one-liners, the comic’s Netflix stand-up special, Thoughts and Prayers premiered last October after his first stint as the host of NBC’s Last Comic Standing and the cancellation of his Comedy Central show, The Jeselnik Offensive. His comedy his gleefully acerbic, and whether he’s on tour or tweeting, and it’s earned its share of detractors who find it distasteful. Jeselnik loves this about his work, however, and his most ardent fans do, as well. Hence, if you’re feeling the need to laugh and feel slightly terrible about yourself, then Thoughts and Prayers is the comedy special for you.
14. Iliza Shlesinger, Elder Millennial
Run Time: 72 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
Iliza Shlesinger returns with her signature brand of comedy, which means this is a set that basically educates men on everything they should know about women. That might seem a bit off-putting for those with a Y chromosome, but Shlesinger manages to get her digs in at everyone this go ‘round, cracking jokes about society’s insistence on women finding husbands, having babies, and concealing their inner-she-dragons. It’s a nice bit of feminist humor that’s surprisingly accessible and has something worthwhile to say.
15. Jim Gaffigan, Cinco
Run Time: 73 min | IMDb: 6.9/10
Jim Gaffigan is like comfort food for comedy. He’s got a schtick and he’s good at it. In his latest stand-up special, Gaffigan sticks to what he knows: Parenting kids, his proud couch potato status, his affinity for junk food, etc. What’s always surprising about Gaffigan’s set is how he’s able to reinvent the wheel, mining new bits of humor from age-old situations, like our obsession with binge-watching and his love-love relationship with food.
16. Donald Glover, Weirdo
Run Time: 65 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
By now, it’s no secret that Donald Glover is good at everything, but when his stand-up special Weirdo was released, at the height of his Community fame, it served as an intro into the mind of one of the most brilliant comedians on TV. Glover uses his time on stage to talk about sex and race and poop … lots of poop jokes. He also gets serious about trying to fit in as a kid and the lack of black superheroes on film. It’s a good routine to watch, especially with the benefit of hindsight, and it’ll only make you like the guy more.
17. Patton Oswalt, Talking for Clapping
Run Time: 65 min | IMDb: 6.8/10
Patton Oswalt‘s special Talking for Clapping is a gem. Much like 2009’s My Weakness is Strong, the comic, actor and writer excels while doing his thing on stage — be it rants about joke-stealing or fraternity chants. Yet with this particular comedic offering, the incredibly nerdy, opinionated and genuinely wonderful performer doesn’t hold back on the more relevant, pressing topics plaguing modern society today. Things like Donald Trump’s ridiculous run for the White House, the wonders of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), and the joyful perils of fatherhood.
18. The Honeymoon Standup Special
Run Time: 95 min | IMDb: 6.7/10
Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher are both stand-up comedians, so it makes sense that they’d celebrate their newlywed status by doing a comedy tour. This special, filmed on a stopover in Austin, Texas, sees the pair completing thirty minutes of solo material before joining together to roast real-life couples in the audience. They do that by poking fun at their own marital experiences so really, the joke’s on them.
19. Sarah Silverman, A Speck of Dust
Run Time: 71 min | IMDb: 6.7/10
Sarah Silverman’s made a career out of shock-and-awe. She’s known for her explicit sense of humor — her ability to joke about everything from the Holocaust to sexual assault and AIDS. But with A Speck of Dust, Silverman seems to have matured a bit in her routine, relaxing into a more conversational tone, leaving behind the sharp one-liners and playing the long-game with running jokes that touch on intimate life moments. This stand-up special might not be as headline-making as her previous ones, but it’s a good look at the kind of comedian Silverman has become.
20. Hannibal Buress, Comedy Camisado
Run Time: 83 min | IMDb: 6.6/10
Hannibal Buress is more than just the comedian who told that joke about that guy. The 33-year-old comic — a fact he laments at length in his recent Netflix stand-up special, Comedy Camisado — has albums, writing credits, and television and film appearances to his name that span a decade. And before that? The Chicagoan started doing stand-up back in 2002 while studying communications in college. When his special premiered last year, Buress told Uproxx about keeping his head above water amidst a busy schedule — which includes frequent appearances on Broad City, The Eric Andre Show and several film roles — and what it was like doing stand-up for the first time in Japan.
21. Chris Rock, Tamborine
Run Time: 64 min | IMDb: 6.5/10
We haven’t heard from Chris Rock in a long time. Sure, the 53-year-old comedian was one of a handful of significant names who threw their hats into the Netflix ring in 2016, but Amy Schumer, Jerry Seinfeld, and Dave Chappelle have already debuted their stand up specials. Rock, whose previous comedy special hit HBO ahead of Barack Obama’s first election win in 2008, has not. Or at least that was the case until Valentine’s Day, when Netflix finally revealed that the secretive Tamborine project was Rock’s first special with them. Not only is it one of his best stand-up hours to date, it’s also already on track to become 2018’s best special yet.
22. Margaret Cho, Psycho
Run Time: 81 min | IMDb: 6.2/10
Margaret Cho is at her most-savage with Psycho, a Netflix stand-up that sees the comedian hitting hard on everything from sexism and homophobia to domestic violence and Asian stereotypes. Cho bares her body and soul in this special, at one point launching into a hilarious rendition of “I Wanna Kill My Rapist” after relaying the true story of being forced to interact with a family member who abused her when she was young. Of course, Cho uses her Asian heritage for plenty of fodder as well, especially her turbulent relationship with her mother, but it’s all for laughs, and really, if Cho can laugh at herself, then we can enjoy the jokes too.
23. Christina Pazsitzky, Mother Inferior
Run Time: 59 min | IMDb: 6.4/10
Speaking of motherhood, Canadian-American comic Christina Pazsitzky’s first Netflix special tackles the subject with a similarly disgusting-yet-distinct approach to Wong’s in Baby Cobra. Titled Mother Inferior, Pazsitzky adopts what the New York Times describes as “a nasal note in her voice evokes Roseanne Barr, whose ‘domestic goddess’ material touched on motherhood” in its own right. Like Wong, Barr and others boasting similar material, however, Pazsitzky isn’t simply going for shock value here. Sure, the Your Mom’s House podcaster isn’t above digging into crass jokes about bodily functions, but she accomplishes these feats (and others) with an insane attention to detail. Even if you’re not a mother, or a parent, Mother Inferior will definitely get some awkward belly laughs out of you.
24. Chris D’Elia, Man On Fire
Run Time: 65 min | IMDb: 6.4/10
Chris D’Elia gets real about all the things he hates with his latest Netflix special. The stand-up comic leaves nothing off the table, marriage, his lack of interest in one day having children, his distaste for people who work out and want to brag about how much they work out. Basically, it’s all the things us regular Joes also despise but D’Elia is able to make it funny. D’Elia isn’t afraid to include himself on the list either. The comedian regularly takes jabs at his physical appearance and his questionable choice in friends in this hour-long set.
25. Maria Bamford, Old Baby
Run Time: 64 min | IMDb: 5.9/10
Many people first experienced Maria Bamford through her fantastic Netflix series Lady Dynamite. It earned high marks from critics and audiences alike, earning the show a second season order from the streaming giant. Season two premiered to rave reviews in early November, thereby solidifying Bamford’s place in the annals of surreal comedy programming. But what about her stand-up? Many will recognize the her signature, seemingly stream-of-consciousness style from Lady Dynamite, but Old Baby owes its existence less to that more to previous specials like The Special Special Special! Released in 2012, the latter offers viewers an interesting counterpoint to Old Baby, as it consists of a private performance for her parents. Five years later, Old Baby travels between six different venues — including a hot-dog stand, a bowling alley and a book store — and throws a few sketches in for good measure
Recent Changes Through December 2018:
Added: Demetri Martin: The Overthinker, Bo Burnham: Make Happy, Iliza: Elder Millennial, John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City