Netflix is home to several genres of movies and TV series; however, their stand-up comedy section should not be overlooked. The streaming service has a large selection of comedy specials, sometimes Netflix originals, which range from dark, offensive humor to light-hearted giggles offering comedic performances anyone with a sense of humor can enjoy.
Why should you spend time watching a comedy special instead of your typical TV show on Netflix? Like all comedians, the performers on Netflix have the ability to say everything you want to say about life, but usually are too scared to admit in public.
1. John Mulaney: “The Comeback Kid”
Former “SNL” writer Mulaney performs this special at The Chicago Theatre while discussing changes in his life since his last special, “New in Town.” He is “so adult” now that he’s married and has a wife; however, his boyish charm is still prevalent and his witty humor keeps the audience engaged throughout the whole performance.
Mulaney discusses a variety of subjects, yet each joke has a light-hearted vibe and is hilarious. He tackles topics such as marriage, Catholicism and buying his first house with statements like “a bank bought [our] house and I’m allowed to keep my pants and shirts here while I pay it off for 30 years,” and “It’s fun to be married. I’ve never been supervised before.”
Mulaney’s talent shines through his skilled writing and outstanding stage presence. He discusses how he thinks babies hate him and how “Back to the Future” really doesn’t make sense.
2. Tom Segura: “Mostly Stories”
Segura’s comedic performance in Seattle, Washington, focuses on mostly stories, hence the title. The special starts with him making fun of how he’s steadily becoming worse in social situations as he gets older by discussing his “small talk” that just makes others uncomfortable, including himself. His stories are easily relatable as he shifts from his awkward conversations to the unexpected, crazy reality of becoming a dad.
Segura’s humor is not family friendly for the most part with its slightly crude, dry humor. He talks about his tendency to be a jerk and expands on topics most men experience, such as the trap of joining a gym to combat his dad bod.
He relies on human connections and conversations in his storytelling; for example, he mentions how people react to crying babies in movie theaters, how old people are treated and his dad’s typically racist remarks. Segura’s stories are a mix of daily observations he makes about quick, funny topics and personal experience that he tells in a natural, effortless way.
The whole special feels like your best friend is relaying information to you about their life and hilarious encounters. “Tom Segura: Mostly Stories” is a must-watch comedy special for its relatable humor and honest approach to life.
3. Ali Wong: “Baby Cobra”
Wong begins the special by saying she can tell she is getting older because she automatically does not like 18-year-old girls, as, according to her, they lack the hindrances that aging brings. She discusses being pregnant, trapping her husband and accidentally having sex with homeless dudes who look like hipsters, then jokes about her mom’s hoarding problem and why feminism is terrible. Her bit on housewives discusses how they are geniuses because they have free days to do whatever they want and she strives for that simple lifestyle.
Even though there is a female focus, Wong’s comedy connects with all genders through her excellent delivery of jokes. It’s obvious from the opening of the special that she is pregnant, yet she points out later in the special, “I don’t know if you guys can tell, but I’m seven months pregnant,” and then goes on to describe all the obstacles pregnancy brings. “Baby Cobra” is an exciting Netflix special because you never really know what Wong will say next.
4. Aziz Ansari: “Live at Madison Square Garden”
While Ansari is well-recognized for appearing on “Parks and Recreation” and his successful show “Master of None,” his stand-up comedy specials do not fall short in comparison. Madison Square Garden’s gigantic arena did not consume his small stature, but rather, he held his ground among the large space. His memorable voice is entertaining throughout the hour-long special, which highlights topics from his parents’ struggles making a living in America to how he can’t give up his love for meat because vegetables need “to step their game up.”
Ansari delivers an intimate performance discussing the food industry, misogyny, relationships and even reading an audience member’s text messages to prove that technology has created a new way of dating. His comedy special reveals his goofy persona while tackling scenarios everyone encounters every day providing a laughable, vulnerable performance.
5. Christina Pazsitzky: “Mother Inferior”
Like Wong, Pazsitzky’s stand-up in Seattle highlights motherhood with an honest, graphic approach; she describes childbirth as well as the emotional and physical horrors of being a mom, such as her hatred toward her husband and the development of mom breasts. Pazsitzky says it takes a lot of work to have a child and most people, genetically speaking, are not worth it; according to the comedian, “There are millions of Snookis. One Beyoncé.”
She makes fun of dad outfits and millennials’ high self-esteem, and though her commentary is critical, it’s also playful in all aspects. Indeed, “Mother Inferior” will give you insight only a mother could.
6. Chris D’Elia: “Man on Fire”
D’Elia’s special focuses on how he does not want to pretend to be someone he is not and how he has changed from his 26-year-old self to who he is now 10 years later. Performing at Vogue Theater in Vancouver, Canada, he mentions the pitfalls of life, such as marriage/divorce, not having kids and how none of us are actually “special.” He has a comedic bit about how people live life like it’s a movie, pretending they are Denzel Washington, but in reality, no one is a “man on fire.”
D’Elia has a bitter approach on love, comparing it to “just hanging out with someone for too long,” a mindset that makes the quotidian realities of marriage funny. “Man on Fire” is D’Elia’s second Netflix original comedy special, and while his humor may not be for everyone, if you’re okay with laughing at yourself and the negatives in life, then this special is for you.
7. Russell Howard: “Recalibrate”
Howard tackles childhood, politics and how the world is a mess in his fairly new Netflix special. He is an Englishman who looks like Ellen, jokes about playing lady wrestling as a kid with his brother, teaches his nephew to sound creepy and compares gender roles in different scenarios.
The comedian brings up Trump and an audience member shouts, “He’s a wanker” and then Howard continues to tell everyone how Trump’s Scottish golf course had to hire extra security because locals would defecate in the 18 holes. He also covers topics like adult entertainment and social media with graphic descriptions. Howard’s humor is unconventional and extremely surprising, which makes it an enjoyable special.
8. Gabriel Iglesias: “I’m Sorry For What I Said When I Was Hungry”
Iglesias is well known for his Hawaiian shirts, fluffy appearance, light-hearted personality and wild best friend Martin Moreno. As it already hosts two other of his streaming specials, “Hot and Fluffy” (2007) and “I’m Not Fat…I’m Fluffy” (2009), Netflix is no stranger to this comedic star. His special, “I’m Sorry For What I Said When I Was Hungry (2016),” finds humor in racist gift baskets, Prius-driving cops and all-female taco trucks.
During the performance, Iglesias use his voice to portray different people and add sound effects to his routine. He talks about hosting a foreign-exchange student, how doves make every situation better and his son, Frankie, who just turned 18 and behaves like most ungrateful teenagers.
Iglesias compares himself to a superhero with strengths and weaknesses, describes how he met one of his actual childhood heroes and mentions how one woman passed out at his performance from laughing hysterically. He links all his jokes well, so the special doesn’t feel too structured or forced. Iglesias captures his audience with his lovable personality and fun jokes; all of his performances are worth watching.