Netflix has managed to talk comedy legends like Ellen DeGeneres and Jerry Seinfeld into doing a comedy special for the first time in years. Because of Netflix’s ever-growing popularity, these legends not only are enticed to perform again, but they also receive amazing praise after doing so.
With a new special every week, Netflix’s archive of stand-ups is growing. Here are four of the best, taking ranking and popularity into account. If you can’t access U.S. Netflix due to geo-restrictions, try these 10 best Netflix VPNs.
1. Sarah Silverman’s “A Speck of Dust”
Silverman, best known for her truthful, sorry-not-sorry jokes, continues this legacy in her Netflix special. Although she’s a bit older than when her prime was, she realizes this and connects her jokes to the way she is settling down in her life.
She touches on the typical social issues that face the country and takes a very obvious political stance. She takes advantage of the new presidency and his policies. This with a combination of her vulgar humor allows for a great show with no apologies.
Silverman started her stand-up career while in college at NYU. She dropped out to continue her stand-up career and landed a job as a writer at SNL. One of the problems that she has faced in her career that she touches on in her stand-up is being a woman in the comedic industry.
In an interview with Fortune, she was asked what it was like being one of the only woman writers at SNL at the time. “I was hired at the same time as three boys from Harvard…we had lunch and then they said, ‘So are you a typist or an assistant?’ I go, ‘No, I’m a writer like you, ass****.’”
Her non-forgiving nature allows her to get a ton of laughs on and off the stage, and, in her special, this nature is translated in her bits on the different topics she covers.
2. Dave Chappelle’s “The Age of Spin” and “Equanimity and the Bird Revelation”
Before returning to comedy with his Netflix stand-up special, “The Age of Spin,” Chappelle was, what seemed like, completely off the grid. After leaving his own show, “The Chappelle Show” on Comedy Central, he was rarely heard from. With his return to comedy on Netflix, he had years of great bits under his belt, making his special the most watched stand-up special on Netflix of all time.
Despite this amazing credential, Chappelle ended up receiving a ton of backlash from a few comments he made in the special regarding the transgender community. In his first special back in the spotlight, he made several transgender slurs against Caitlyn Jenner and used the famous trope of a trans woman tricking a man into having sex.
This caused a tremendous backlash against him. Chappelle addressed this backlash in his third special. He apologized and respected the fact that they, like the black community, are struggling to live their lives equally and without fear, but he still held to general stand-up comedian stance that he holds the right to joke.
Many comedians face backlash similar to the one Chappelle received, but if you are able to look past this and still remember that he, along with other comedians, are not perfect, his specials are comedic gold. One of his most well-received bits was his three stories on the three times he met O.J. Simpson.
Chappelle uses his crazy life stories to entertain his wide ranged audience and also talk about important racial issues the black community faces. Overall, Chappelle carries himself through his jokes with a complete disregard for political correctness that seems to get him in trouble, but he just doesn’t seem to care.
3. Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher’s “The Honeymoon Stand-Up Special”
This special brings an interesting twist on the standard one-man show. Leggero and Kasher both started comedy solo, are married with a child on the way and decided to do a special together to talk about their marriage and soon to be born child. They broke the special up into three parts, starting with Leggero going solo on stage.
She talks about her crazy Italian family, her relationship with Kasher and what it’s like carrying a child and the duties of becoming a mother. In Kasher’s 30-minute solo part, he seems to fit in about an hour of content because he rattles on. Although he can be hard to keep up with, his stories about his mother’s extreme feminist ways of raising two boys make up for it.
Leggero’s classy yet trashy and chill demeanor complements Kasher’s fast-paced nature when they invite couples in the crowd on stage for “couples counseling.” While most of their counseling is them insulting their stage guests, their dynamic shines in this portion of the special because their banter with their guests carries over into banter within themselves.
And everyone knows that the only thing funnier than a comedian making fun of the crowd is a comedian making fun of themselves.
4. John Mulaney’s “New in Town,” “The Comeback Kid” and “Kid Gorgeous”
Mulaney started off as a writer at SNL where he co-created many iconic characters, such as Stefon, played by Bill Hader. His first stand-up special “New in Town” was for Comedy Central which Netflix ultimately picked up. Mulaney’s jokes are comprised of self-deprecation in the form of calling himself “a little boy” and questioning the parts of life we deem ordinary, when, really, they should be out of the ordinary.
Mulaney is a unique comic, one like this generation has yet to see. His newest special “Kid Gorgeous” has material for people of all ages to laugh at. He reflects on his college days and why his major, English, was a waste of his time because it is, “a language I already speak!” Along with this, he reflects on getting older, saying “I am now gross. I am damp all the time… Like the back of a dolphin, my back.”
Mulaney, like every comedian, also uses his platform to comment on current political and social issue topics. In his newest special, he takes a bold move and compares the current presidency to “a horse being loose in a hospital.” He goes on with this bit for about 10 minutes just comparing different realities the country is facing with a horse being loose in a hospital, or the most ridiculous, yet serious, scenarios.
Mulaney manages to deliver on laughs and is able to take little parts of life and turn them into jokes, which, after three stand-up specials, is seemingly impossible for some comedians.