Netflix produces or orders a lot of original content, and a large chunk of that content is standup specials. Netflix’s library of comedy specials is vast, and it appears to be the platform any comedian would like to be featured on.
Setting aside the whole library, this article will focus on ten comedy specials from this year, and to be clear, this is a ranked list.
Coming up are ten Netflix comedy specials from this year that can’t be overlooked.
10: Chris D’Elia: Man on Fire
Actor-comedian Chris D’Elia, who also featured in last year’s Netflix film XOXO, came out with a comedy special this year primarily focusing on the idea that most people, including himself, can never truly be special, or can never be the ‘man on fire’.
Delivered in a brutally honest fashion, D’Elia leaves you sadly laughing at your own misfortunes. It ranks the lowest on this list because a lot of it fell flat, but there are great moments to be watched and it is worth checking out.
9: The Standups
The Standups is a six-part stand up series, featuring six comedians who each have a half an hour segment.
The Standups is very clearly a mixed bag of great and really not great. While Nate Bargatze, Beth Stelling and Dan Soder had well written material, Fortune Feinster, Deon Cole and Nikki Glaser failed to hit the mark. So really, you should watch episodes 1, 5 and 6. The ones in between can be avoided.
8: Louis CK 2017
The biggest reason Louis CK is on this list is simply because he is Louis CK. His 2017 Netflix special is no different than his usual gig, encompassing dark humour and tragedy and making you question yourself with ‘should I be laughing at this?’.
While I do feel that the ones above this are definitely better, this is still a great watch and proves why Louis CK is as big a name as he is.
7: Joe Mande’s Award-Winning Comedy Special
Created with a gimmick that comic Joe Mande wanted to achieve his life-long dream of winning the ‘American Humour Award’, Joe Mande’s Award-Winning Comedy Special really is just your standard special with a little extra. Of course, what helps is the fact that Mande had some great content, so really if the gimmick was to win an award, then that’s what it deserved.
Doing nothing more than share personal stories, Mande manages to make the idea of winning the award itself something funny. It’s an overall compact hour of entertainment that leaves you gasping for breath every now and then.
6: Sarah Silverman: A Speck of Dust
Bouncing off of a significant health scare, renowned comic Sarah Silverman’s comedy special focuses on her health, her life and the idea of really existing in show business.
Silverman brings a confidence that is interlaced with intentional insecurity, adding levity to her act and making it seem as if she is actually trying hard to be relevant. It’s a nice touch given everything I mentioned already about this special.
Ranking everything so far was easy. The top five, though… They were a little difficult.
5: Jo Koy: Live From Seattle
In what is the least creatively-named special on this list, Filipino-American comedian Jo Koy shares stories about being raised by his Filipino mother, and the contrast with how he raises his own son.
Koy’s very personal piece is one that invites for infinite amounts of laughter and intimate understanding of his life. Despite it being fifth on this list, I don’t think it could have been any better.
4: Maz Jobrani: Immigrant
The most recently released entry on this list, Immigrant is a political and cultural special told very lightheartedly.
Iranian comic Maz Jobrani expresses the life of an immigrant in America today, and the cultural significance immigrants have. It is both an eye-opener and eye-waterer, as Jobrani brings out a laugh at every opportunity he can find. Complete with his dancing entrance and exit, this newly released special has to be on your radar.
3: Vir Das: Abroad Understanding
Perhaps the most uniquely-produced special on this list, Abroad Understanding is Indian actor-comedian Vir Das’ first Netflix special.
The image featured at the beginning of the article is from New Delhi, and this one here is from New York, yet they are both from the same special. Das performed in both places, and the special cuts back and forth between the two performances.
This is a brilliant concept, especially since the entire focus of the show was on the clash of American and Indian cultures. Seeing both audiences react differently is a nice touch. On top of this, the material is hilarious, and no matter how unique a stand-up act is, that is the core, and it delivers spectacularly.
2: Trevor Noah: Afraid of the Dark
Daily Show host Trevor Noah pulled off the most surprising comedy special of the year with Afraid of the Dark, a telling of the South African’s tales from around the world, with underlying themes of acceptance and broadening the mind.
At once, Noah is able to make you laugh and develop his perspective of life, and it is truly an enticing experience to watch. Putting this in number two was not an easy decision, but at the end of the day, number one is just a tad bit more special (pun intended).
1: Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King
Has a stand-up special ever made you cry?
Daily Show correspondent Hasan Minhaj goes hands-free and sets the stage on fire with Homecoming King, his first special which he intentionally set in his hometown of Davis, California.
Over the course of one hour – with visual aids – Minhaj takes you through the story of his life and the challenges of being an Indian Muslim growing up. While it is exceptionally funny, I do not think I’ve ever watched any standup act with as much heart as this. Being completely free to express himself without a handheld microphone, Minhaj gets your eyes to tear up multiple times as you both laugh at and appreciate his struggles, and the story he is telling. It is as emotional as is it is funny, and quite honestly, it makes you want to give him a standing ovation even if you’re watching on your television at home.
With that, this article comes to a close. If ever there is a time you need to laugh, look no further than these ten places.