It’s important to remember during These Trying Times that we all still need to make room in our lives for laughter and joy. Netflix got you.
There are few better places to turn for laughs these days than the O.G. of streaming services. While would-be customers have an ever-growing number of streaming options to choose from, Netflix’s steady stream of high-profile comedy specials is a selling point unto itself.
From hours that made our favorites famous to recent routines from comedy vets, here are 27 of the funniest stand-up specials on Netflix now streaming and ranked by how much they’ll make you laugh.
Note: Some of the best comedians have many, many specials. To avoid any one performer dominating this list, we’ve applied a one entry per comedian rule, but shouted out other performances of theirs that we’ve loved.
27. Tiffany Haddish: Black Mitzvah
At least on Netflix, Tiffany Haddish’s performance energy is unparalleled. For her special, titled Black Mitzvah, Haddish imbues coming-of-age anecdotes with effervescence and physical comedy that just can’t be beat. She explores stardom, growth, and peeing in an Uber. Adult stuff! If you’re looking for a pick-me-up and the greatest ponytail to grace the small screen, you’re in the right place. — A.F.
How to watch: Tiffany Haddish: Black Mitzvah is now streaming on Netflix.
26. Pete Davidson: Alive From New York
It was only a matter of time before Saturday Night Live fave and hot celeb gossip singularity Pete Davidson swaggered his B.D.E. onto the stage for a proper comedy special. Pete Davidson: Alive from New York is that special, and it’s a Netflix original. Just like Pete himself, the comedy sometimes feels rough and unformed. But the SNL star finds his groove in the end, as he often does, by mining humor our of deeply personal touchstones from his life. — Adam Rosenberg, Senior Reporter
How to watch: Pete Davidson: Alive From New York is now streaming on Netflix.
25. Eric André: Legalize Everything
The unhinged comedy of Eric André is front-and-center in Legalize Everything right at the start. The comic, known best for his eponymous The Eric André Show as well as a top-tier internet meme, kicks off his Netflix special with a sketch moment. Dressed up in a cop’s uniform, André parades through the streets of New Orleans brandishing a bong and all manner of drugs. It’s an appropriate introduction to a too-short stage show where altered states and absurdity are the order of the day. — A.R.
How to watch: Eric André: Legalize Everything is now streaming on Netflix.
24. Michelle Wolf: Joke Show
Michelle Wolf’s second streaming special (and first on Netflix) is everything the comedian does best: humblebragging disguised as self deprecation and incisive commentary about sexism that doesn’t feel pedantic, all delivered with a cheeky smile. Wolf’s greatest comedy weapon has always been that she doesn’t seem like someone with the power to destabilize the unsuspecting audience with words alone, but she absolutely nails it, every time. — Proma Khosla, Entertainment Reporter
How to watch: Michelle Wolf: Joke Show is now streaming on Netflix.
23. Sarah Silverman: A Speck of Dust
Sarah Silverman is one of those comics who needs no introduction. You’ve probably heard OF her simply because you’ve probably heard her. The outspoken SNL veteran has built her brand of humor around finding the jokes inside of challenging topics and speaking about them candidly, and with a heavy dose of irony. A Speck of Dust finds Silverman in a more introspective mood as she balances her ribald flavor of jokes alongside thoughtful and thought-provoking acts of self-reflection. — A.R.
How to watch: Sarah Silverman: A Speck of Dust is now streaming on Netflix.
22. Jim Gaffigan: Cinco
Comedy’s favorite father of five has plenty of Grammy-nominated works on Netflix, but Cinco is one we just keep coming back to. In his fifth one-hour special, Jim Gaffigan meditates on the birth of his fifth child as well as the morphing political climate in 2017. We get tons of great Gaffigan moments, including his uproarious look at binge-watching. — A.F.
How to watch: Jim Gaffigan: Cinco is now streaming on Netflix.
Credit: Atsushi Nishijima / Netflix
21. Wanda Sykes: Not Normal
Wanda Sykes is a legend for a reason — and we need her unfiltered guidance now more than ever. In Not Normal, Sykes lands razor sharp observations on the state of the country, exploring topics like the medical care biases and the current administration. She also talks about her own experiences with aging, introducing us all to the iconic „Esther.“ — A.F.
How to watch: Wanda Sykes: Not Normal is now streaming on Netflix.
20. Todd Glass: Act Happy
Act Happy is a uniquely hilarious stand-up special because it features a live band on stage with Todd Glass, and the way he plays off that band and uses it to accent his jokes and stories makes for Glass’s best special yet. His fast, dynamic, stream-of-conscious comedy is on fire here as he digs into the minutiae of life and the backing band is icing on the cake. — Kellen Beck, Entertainment Reporter
How to watch: Todd Glass: Act Happy is now streaming on Netflix.
19. Seth Meyers: Lobby Baby
In his Netflix debut, Late Night host Meyers brings the broad likability that drives his talk show, that has kept him prominent in comedy since his days at Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update desk. His takes on fatherhood and married life aren’t revolutionary, but they’re comfortably personal and absurd enough (like the titular bit) to make an impression. He also takes advantage of Netflix unlike anyone else, with the “SKIP POLITICS” option for anyone who wants to get through a comedy hour without hearing a word that rhymes with “grump.” — P.K.
How to watch: Seth Meyers: Lobby Baby is now streaming on Netflix.
Credit: Ben King / Netflix
18. Hannah Gadsby: Nanette
Nanette is a masterpiece. Framed as Hannah Gadsby’s decision to „leave comedy,“ this one-hour special examines why self-deprecating humor can be damaging to comedians already in the margins. Gadsby reflects on her experience as a lesbian performing in the often biased and unforgiving comedy world and departs her Netflix debut with a mic drop for the ages. — A.F.
How to watch: Hannah Gadsby: Nanette is now streaming on Netflix.
17. Katherine Ryan: In Trouble
Katherine Ryan may have been born in Canada, but her appearances on 8 Out of 10 Cats, Your Face or Mine?, Taskmaster, and more shaped her into British comedy personified. From her delightfully unique speech patterns to her transatlantic perspective, Ryan will provide a breath of fresh air to any American streamer. Her second Netflix hour Glitter Room is just as good, and reveals more about her life as a single mom. — A.F.
How to watch: Katherine Ryan: In Trouble is now streaming on Netflix.
16. Adam Sandler: 100% Fresh
For a while, it seemed like Adam Sandler’s best days were behind him. And then 100% Fresh arrived on Netflix. Filmed in various venues of varying sizes with absolutely no segues or real structure, Sandler shows that he not only still has some of the best comedy chops in the business, but that he’s still capable of surprising all kinds of audiences with his humor. — K.B.
How to watch: Adam Sandler: 100% Fresh is now streaming on Netflix.
Credit: Allyson Riggs / Netflix
15. Taylor Tomlinson: Quarter-Life Crisis
Late night fans have known about Taylor Tomlinson for a while. Now, all of Netflix can bask in her glory. Whip-smart and spectacularly cynical, Tomlinson offers a painful and real look at what being in your twenties means these days. Sure, it can be fun. But also, it’s a nightmare? You understand. If you love her hour special, be sure to check out her Netflix debut in The Comedy Lineup. — A.F.
How to watch: Taylor Tomlinson: Quarter-Life Crisis is now streaming on Netflix.
14. Chris Rock: Tamborine
After a decade-long hiatus, Chris Rock returned to stand-up via Netflix comedy special. Full of pitch-perfect takes on his personal and professional evolution as well as the changing times, Tamborine provides a snapshot of a moment not soon to be forgotten. Rock’s perspective is valuable as always, but his insights never roam too far from funny. — A.F.
How to watch: Chris Rock: Tamborine is now streaming on Netflix.
13. Amy Schumer: Growing
Amy Schumer is always entertaining, but watching her perform in Growing was especially wonderful. Contemplating the birth of her first child and recent marriage, Schumer talks about how she has changed since first entering the public eye. It’s a raw, feminist laugh fest that provides touching insights on the role we play in our and others‘ growth. Plus, she describes what hyperemesis is like and for someone, somewhere that is some extremely relatable shit. — A.F.
How to watch: Amy Schumer: Growing is now streaming on Netflix.
12. Sam Jay: 3 in the Morning
Jay’s debut special hits that comedy sweet spot of being both hyperspecific and universal as heck. She hits on traveling with her girlfriend („you’re not a plane scientist“), white leisure activity („They do weird shit. They just get lost in the woods for no reason“), and the Trump presidency. She adds her own insight to topics that have been done before, and manages to joke about trans people, #MeToo, and more, without punching down. Other comics, take note (and don’t try this at home). — A.F.
How to watch: Sam Jay: 3 in the Morning is now streaming on Netflix
11. Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King
Hasan Minhaj’s Netflix debut, developed for stage with The Moth and a national tour, tore down the wall between standup comedy and live storytelling with this brilliant hybrid. Minhaj talks about his childhood, his family, his experience as an Indian American and an emerging comedian, all with equals measures of contemplation and lively humor. Homecoming King’s DNA carries the sequence present through out his career — one which, by any indication, is just beginning. — P.K.
How to watch: Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King is now streaming on Netflix.
10. Ryan Hamilton: Happy Face
Quarantining with the family? Ryan Hamilton’s Happy Face is the stand-up special for you, your age 10+ kids, and your parents. With folksy observations about big city life, hot air balloons, and being single, this sharp, quotable, and silly 2017 special is the perfect hour-long break for just about anyone. It’s sweet! Sweet is very nice. Sweet is very funny. — Erin Strecker, Entertainment Editor
How to watch: Ryan Hamilton: Happy Face is now streaming on Netflix.
9. Tig Notaro: Happy To Be Here
Tig Notaro brings an unbelievably deep level of vulnerability with her special Happy To Be Here and mixes it with some of the most casually delivered jokes. While bringing the audience into her life, thoughts, and feelings in what should feel like a discomforting invasion of privacy, Notaro’s mastery of comedy and being on stage keeps everything welcoming and warm. Also, the final 15 minutes of the special is a single joke that is basically a masterclass of sustained suspense. — K.B.
How to watch: Tig Notaro: Happy To Be Here is now streaming on Netflix.
8. Hari Kondabolu: Warn Your Relatives
Hari Kondabolu’s comedy is pointed and painfully relevant. With jokes about racism, Indian stereotypes, and observations of all the mind-numbing things going on in the world right now, Kondabolu somehow manages to wrangle laughs out of some of the most infuriating facets of life in Warn Your Relatives. — K.B.
How to watch: Hari Kondabolu: Warn Your Relatives is now streaming on Netflix.
7. Trevor Noah: Afraid of the Dark
As with Meyers’ Lobby Baby, Noah — a seasoned standup — inadvertently uses his specials to flex the sheer charisma that got him a talk show host gig in the first place. Just as he does on The Daily Show, he cheerfully dismantles Western society for all its idiosyncrasies and frivolity, but never without a degree of affection for the bizarre world he now calls home. — P.K.
How to watch: Trevor Noah: Afraid of the Dark is now streaming on Netflix.
Credit: Elizabeth Morris / Netflix
6. Patton Oswalt: Annihilation
It’s impossible to separate Patton Oswalt: Annihilation from the moment into which it arrived. Shot and released in late 2017, following an emotionally devastating year that included the unexpected death of his wife, Michelle McNamara, and a traumatic presidential election, Oswalt hits the stage ready to share and then share some more. The naked honesty he brings to that stage lands like a form of therapy. It’s not wall-to-wall laughter as we watch Oswalt working through trauma in front of a crowd, but it’s raw and heartfelt, and a powerful testament to why he’s still one of the most talented comics working today. — A.R.
How to watch: Patton Oswalt: Annihilation is now streaming on Netflix.
5. Mike Birbiglia: My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend
Marriage isn’t for everyone. In his spectacular special My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, Mike Birbiglia breaks down the ins and outs of the institution as he recounts his decades of dating experience. Heartfelt, hysterical, and beautifully staged, this hour of intimate storytelling will make you laugh and cry in equal measure. His 2019 special The New One follows a similar format, but on parenting. — A.F.
How to watch: Mike Birbiglia: My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend is now streaming on Netflix.
4. Ali Wong: Baby Cobra
In her first stand-up comedy special, Ali Wong brought a fire with her onstage that tore down the theater in Seattle and spread across the world, grabbing the attention of millions with her unabashed stories of her pregnancy, her relationship with her husband, and eating ass. Her hilarity and ferocity paired with the seven-month-old fetus growing in her stomach makes for a fantastic sight and one of the most iconic stand-up specials of all time. — K.B.
How to watch: Ali Wong: Baby Cobra is now streaming on Netflix.
3. John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City
John Mulaney’s Kid Gorgeous is one of those comedy specials that has already become part of pop culture. Bits like “there’s a horse in a hospital” and “street smarts” were iconic the instant Mulaney performed them, mainly because his highly relatable (and eminently quotable) delivery is universally hilarious. Mulaney tells jokes like he’s an early 20th century radio announcer dropped in the middle of our insane times and finds what’s funny in just about every aspect of modern life. Have some street smarts. Stream Kid Gorgeous. — Alexis Nedd, Senior Entertainment Reporter
How to watch: John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City is now streaming on Netflix.
2. Donald Glover: Weirdo
Renaissance man Donald Glover graced the comedy world with only two specials, but his 2011 Comedy Central hour Weirdo remains the best of the best. Glover’s storytelling talents and knack for observational comedy combine to form a cohesive journey that feels like hanging out with the coolest friend you’ve ever had. If you’re not still quoting this special, then you’re missing out. — A.F.
How to watch: Donald Glover: Weirdo is now streaming on Netflix.
1. Bo Burnham: Inside
Among the more impressive pandemic projects to hit the market, Bo Burnham: Inside is an unconventional comedy special that takes a painfully precise look at the traumatic experience of social distancing during COVID-19. In it, Burnham takes musical aim at everything from aging („30“) to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos („Bezos I“ and „Bezos II“) with his characteristic wit and self-depreciation — having made the project while, of course, stuck at home like the rest of us.
It’s not an easy watch. Mashable’s Alexis Nedd actually described it as a „musical recap of shared psychic trauma.“ If that’s the kind of viewing experience you can manage, then you definitely should cue it up. But if you need to sit this one out, we get that too. The „I am not well“ scene is genuinely hard to watch. — A.F. *
How to watch: Bo Burnham: Inside is now streaming on Netflix.
Asterisks (*) indicate the entry comes from a previous Mashable list.
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