If you’re looking for a laugh, we’ve got you covered.
We all need a laugh sometimes, and when it comes to standup comedy, Netflix has amassed a spectacular library of specials for just about every sense of humor under the sun. We all know the streaming network has been busy buffing up its movies and TV shows in recent years, but Netflix has also become a giant in the world of comedy specials, curating an impressive lineup from the biggest and best names in comedy right now and launching some unsung gems to stardom in the process. We’ve done a deep dive into the library to discover the most impressive, groundbreaking, and laugh-out-loud hilarious selections in the bunch. From the new names who are changing the game to established industry greats, check out our picks for the best stand-up comedy specials on Netflix below.
For more laugh-worthy recommendations, check out our list of the best comedy movies, comedy shows, and romantic comedies on Netflix, or browse our suggestions for the best movies and shows on the platform.
Editor’s note: This list was updated September 2023 to include Jared Freid: 37 and Single.
Bo Burnham: Inside (2021)
Run Time: 1 hr 27 min | Director: Bo Burnham
A comedy special unlike anything that has come before it in how it challenges the form, Bo Burnham: Inside continues in the comedian’s long trajectory of making increasingly reflective work. Shot, written, and performed by the enigmatic Bo Burnham, this is a special that digs deep into his own state of mind having been locked up in quarantine along with the rest of us. It proves that necessity can truly be the impetus for really creative work, as we see him work within the confines set out for him to remarkable effect. It features some of his best music and performances that hit a wide variety of comedic highs, shifting from being gloriously goofy to deeply reflective with ease. It benefits from repeat viewings, as every nuance and small detail makes it an event that is vast in its ambitions even as it is personal in its execution. It cements Burnham as a voice of a generation whose work just keeps getting better with every new special. – Chase Hutchinson
Jared Freid: 37 and Single (2023)
Run Time: 1 hr 7 min | Director: Mike Lavin
Societal expectations can wreak havoc on your self-worth, but comedian and podcaster Jared Freid (How Low Will You Go: Snapchat) takes all that frustration and self-loathing and focuses it into this all-new hour-long comedy special. Jared Freid: 37 and Single takes a look at the world from the perspective of a mid-30s edgy comedian who can’t find love no matter what he tries. Freid covers topics like bad dating advice from friends, healthy eating, and getting the ick on a date. Though his comedy is not for everyone, Freid has a large following who will attest to his quick wit and interesting takes.
Tom Segura: Sledgehammer (2023)
Run Time: 1 hr 1 min | Director: Ryan Polito
Directed by Ryan Polito, Tom Segura: Sledgehammer is a raunchy-as-hell comedy special from comedian, author, and podcaster Tom Segura (Instant Family). Filmed in Phoenix, Arizona, Tom Segura: Sledgehammer focuses on the funny man’s family, upbringing, and passions, including his fascination with icon Brad Pitt. Featuring stories about his own father, as well as the trials of being a father himself, no topic seems to be off limits for Segura. Highlighted by Segura’s chill delivery, Tom Segura: Sledgehammer reveals uncomfortably true stories for parents of all ages. – Yael Tygiel
Bert Kreischer: Razzle Dazzle (2023)
Run Time: 1 hr | Director: Jeff Tomsic
Taking a playfully unexpected approach to stand-up comedy specials, Bert Kreischer: Razzle Dazzle allows hilarious comedian Bert Kreischer to express his vulnerability through storytelling, belly laughs, and a completely shirtless performance. Bert Kreischer: Razzle Dazzle is a riotous event directed by Jeff Tomsic, who captured every moment of Kreischer’s live performance in Omaha, Nebraska, translating the shameless show into a televised comedy experience. Featuring genuine reflections on his childhood and experiences being bullied, as well as more recent adventures with his family, Bert Kreischer: Razzle Dazzle is delightfully amusing for fans and newcomers alike. – Yael Tygiel
Adam Sandler: 100% Fresh (2018)
Run Time: 1 hr 13 min | Director: Steven Brill, Nicholaus Goossen
Saturday Night Live alum Adam Sandler commands stages in Adam Sandler: 100% Fresh, traveling across the United States to perform stand-up, musical numbers, and just reminisce on his journey. Appearing in comedy clubs, concert halls, and even a subway station, Sandler delivers laughs to audiences who have been enjoying his humor for decades. Featuring appearances from Dan Bulla and Sandler’s constant sidekick, Rob Schneider, Adam Sandler: 100% Fresh celebrates the funnyman’s career in a very Sandler way. Directed by Steven Brill and with segments from Nicholaus Goossen, the special is a beautiful tribute to the comedian with the egg-shaped head. – Yael Tygiel
Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Never Forget For the Rest of Your Life (2018)
Run Time: 1 hr 14 min | Director: Marcus Raboy
Cast: Steve Martin, Martin Short, The Steep Canyon Rangers
Featuring the hilarious duo of Steve Martin and Martin Short (Only Murders in the Building), Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Never Forget For the Rest of Your Life is a delightful hour of comedy and music recorded at the Peace Center in Greenville, South Carolina. This evening acts as a variety show written by the pair, showcasing sketches, jokes about their friendship, and even some fan-favorite characters they’ve created over the years. In addition to the live comedy and banjo playing, they share the stage with The Steep Canyon Rangers and jazz pianist Jeff Babko. – Yael Tygiel
Joel Kim Booster: Psychosexual
Run Time: 1 hr 7 min | Director: Doron Max Hagay
In addition to writing, directing, and starring in the hilarious Fire Island (a queer, comedic take on Pride and Prejudice) and stealing scenes in Loot, Joel Kim Booster has a new stand-up special on Netflix called Psychosexual. He splits the hour into three breezy acts: one that centers around his identity as a gay Asian man, another with more generic jokes, and finally, a particularly raunchy section about sex. Masterful at crowd work and with a style that’s hilarious no matter your background or identity, Joel Kim Booster’s special proves why he’s one of the hottest young stars right now. – Taylor Gates
Taylor Tomlinson: Quarter-Life Crisis (2020)
Run Time: 1 hr 1 min | Director: Marcus Raboy
Taylor Tomlinson’s Quarter-Life Crisis is raw, human, and above all else, fun. In the special, Tomlison shares her personal experience as a 25-year-old, an embarrassing age when we have to deal both with the pressure of being young and enjoying life, and the responsibility of turning into an adult. By stripping her soul on the stage, Tomlinson creates a deep connection with her audience because, let’s be honest, we are all human beings feeling awkward about ourselves and trying to adjust to social rules we don’t quite fully understand. Tomlinson is also not afraid to frame her life experience through a woman’s eyes, underlining the specific challenges she must overcome while landing joke after joke. Besides that, few stand-up comedians have crowd control so on point as Tomlinson, who’s always trying to interact with her public, like a friend telling life stories we can all laugh about. That kind of human connection is part of what makes Tomlinson stand (up) above other comedians, and Netflix’s Quarter-Life Crisis is the perfect example of how brilliant Tomlinson can be. — Marco Vito Oddo
Run Time: 1 hr 3 min | Director: Sebastian DiNatale
Mainstream audiences might recognize Ronny Chieng from his roles in Shang-Chi and Crazy Rich Asians, but in Ronnie Chieng: Asian Comedian Destroys America! Chieng shows off his comedic chops telling irreverent jokes about being Asian, racism, American consummerism and politics, and his own struggle to get to his wedding on time. For those who love Chieng as a correspondant on The Daily Show, this is a perfect dose of comedic humor. Coming from a transnational background gives him a unique perspective on America, and as he gives you a little Asian history lesson, he will also talk about the magic of Japanese bidets. He’s not afraid to tell it like it is, openly shedding commentary on American politics and race relations, while also talking about how cutthroat New Yorkers can be when it comes to catching the subway. Chieng is sure to become a bigger star as time goes on, so if you’re looking for a dive into his stand-up, there’s no better place to start. — Therese Lacson
Seth Meyers: Lobby Baby (2019)
Run Time: 1 hr 1 min | Director: Neal Brennan
Seth Meyers has low-key the best nightly talk show right now (Last Week Tonight doesn’t count since it only airs on Sunday), and he has brought his charm and charisma to the stand-up special Lobby Baby. In the standup, there are your standard political jokes (although in a nice wink to how Netflix works, there’s a special “Skip Politics” button that appears for this segment of the show for those who like Meyers but don’t want to hear him poke fun at Trump for some reason), but what makes Lobby Baby so good is how relatable Meyers can be in just the standard realms of marriage and fatherhood. That may not be “fresh” territory for comedians, but Meyers still makes it his own since he’s smart enough and sharp enough to know that it’s not about pushing the envelope that makes for good comedy, but knowing how to finely craft a joke, like when he describes a hopeless dance instructor or pokes fun at his own mansplaining to his wife. – Matt Goldberg
John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City (2018)
Run Time: 1 hr 4 min | Director: Alex Timbers
John Mulaney is one of the most popular performers in comedy at the moment, and no matter which of his standup specials you pick, you’ll immediately see why. Netflix is host to three of Mulaney’s specials, (as well as Oh Hello on Broadway, the stage show he co-created with Nick Kroll,) New in Town, The Comeback Kid, and Kid Gorgeous at Radio City. Pick one, you can’t go wrong. Mulaney’s singular tempo and delivery will have you in stitches in minutes regardless, but if you’re looking for the most current bits and biggest sense of showmanship, get thee to Kid Gorgeous, a hilarious, glittering set that plants Mulaney’s vaguely old-fashioned theatricality in the splendor of Radio City Music hall, where he plays to an enormous adoring crowd. “I love to play venues where, if the guy that built the venue could see me on the stage, he would be a little bit bummed about it,” Mulaney says in the opening. His persona is refined to a tee, his timing and ad-libbing are impeccable as ever, but Mulaney’s great gift has always been his writing and Kid Gorgeous is a phenomenal showcase for his one-of-a-kind talent for combining spectacular storytelling, description. and payoff with some of the downright weirdest and most absurd jokes on the scene.
Tom Segura: Completely Normal (2014)
Run Time: 1 hr 14 min | Director: Jay Chapman
Tom Segura has one of those great stage presences that immediately makes you feel like your his friend — that rare gift of easy charisma that makes you feel like you’re the only two people in the room. Alternately raunchy and relatable, Segura’s sets serve a peculiar cocktail of acerbic cynicism and genial warmth, breezing through everything from sex, diet, and deviant behavior with the comedian’s masterful command of deadpan and self-depreciation. Segura has three sets on Netflix — Completely Normal, Mostly Stories, and Disgraceful — and they’re all winners, but for my money, it’s his first Netflix special, 2014’s Completely Normal that still delivers the biggest laughs. Whether he’s talking about the insanity of The First 48 or shameful internet history, Segura mines every bit for all the laughs its worth, and the fact that he makes it look so effortless only further confirms he’s one of the best in the business.
Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979)
Run Time: 1 hr 18 min | Director: Jeff Margolis
Richard Pryor: Live in Concert is a stone-cold classic. The iconic late comedian delivered one of the most celebrated sets of his career in the 1979 special, recorded in Long Beach, California. It’s a definitive piece of comedy and a much-needed entry on Netflix, which generally suffers from a dearth of classic comedy. Pryor’s infectious energy and talent for commanding a raucous crowd are on full display, and you’re essentially watching a master at work, writing the playbook that generations of comedians would follow. As usual, Pryor’s primary focus is race and biting cultural criticism, all of which retains its punch decades later. This is a legend of the form at his peak, absolutely on fire from the first joke to the last. There’s no denying Pryor’s comedy was made for a different time, but even if you’re watching for the first time today, you’ll immediately laugh yourself into understanding why Pryor is considered the GOAT by so many.
Anthony Jeselnik: Thoughts and Prayers (2015)
Run Time: 59 min | Director: Adam Dubin
Anthony Jeselnik is proof that you can joke about anything if you’re smart and talented enough — of course, it helps that being a bit of psychopath is part of his schtick. Jeselnik’s brand of comedy is built around being abrasive; he doles out hits and he gets plenty of blowback for his efforts, but he’s also a master at toeing the line. As he says in his 2015 Netflix special Thoughts and Prayers “What’s funny about Aurora? What’s funny about the Boston Marathon? What’s funny about your grandmother’s funeral? Nothing. Nothing is funny about those things, that’s where I come in.” As much as he is a champion of wicked one-liners and bone dry delivery, he’s also an incredibly savvy joke writer — he doesn’t punch down. The reason he can get away with joking about anything is he never makes the victims or the disenfranchised the punchline. It’s one hell of a balancing act to watch and his gift for turning jokes in the most twisted direction shouldn’t be understated. His act is like a game of chicken — who’s going to back down first? Him or the audience? And it’s never him. Jeselnik’s humor is dark as it gets and all but guaranteed to get a wince or a gasp out of even the most anti-PC audience member, but it’s also master class in pushing boundaries without being tasteless and delivering scathing cultural commentary without just being an ass.
Hannah Gadsby: Nanette (2018)
Run Time: 1 hr 9 min | Director: Jon Olb, Madeleine Parry
Hannah Gadsby was arguably the breakout comedy sensation of 2018 thanks to her groundbreaking special Nanette, a deeply personal meditation on art, abuse, and trauma that elegantly darts between punchlines and personal revelations with impeccable timing and emotional grace. Comedy specials have grown increasingly inventive over the years, especially as comedians started gearing their content toward a Netflix audience, but no other set on this list blurs the lines between Standup and performance art quite like Nanette. Gadsby is a gripping storyteller that lulls you into her gentle demeanor and easy humor before delivering heartbreaking asides that pull from her experience growing up a Lesbian in hyper-conservative Tasmania and ultimately lands on a resonant, paradigm-shifting perspective on genius and art, and the abuses we tolerate in the pursuit of false myths about tortured artists. Though it might not be the pick if you’re looking for an easy laugh, Nanette is brilliant, essential standup that pushes the form in bold new directions.
Ali Wong: Hard Knock Wife (2018)
Run Time: 1 hr 4 min | Director: Jay Karas
Ali Wong is really out here redefining the boundaries for female comedians. Her 2016 special Baby Cobra (which ugly-laugh hilarious and well worth checking out in its own right) was groundbreaking for one simple but radical factor — she filmed it at seven-and-a-half months pregnant, delivering some of the filthiest, raunchiest humor outside the realm of bro-comedy. It was a smash sensation and Wong’s 2018 follow-up Hard Knock Wife, which she again filmed while extremely pregnant, continued her tradition of shattering unspoken taboos by tackling the harsh, often disgusting, realities of birth and motherhood. In the age of helicopter parenting and relentless social media judgments placed on mothers, Wong delivers the kind of brutal assessment of motherhood most people save for therapists and wine-fuelled girls nights, mining the emotional drain, physical demands, and downright body horror of everything from birth to breastfeeding with uproarious, foul-mouthed verve. Stylish and sassy to boot, Wong covers more than just motherhood, navigating sex, race, dating, and marriage with honesty, intimacy, and of course, hilarity. Whether you hit Baby Cobra or Hard Knock Wife first, you’ll immediately see why Wong is one of the most exciting and surprising voices in comedy right now.
Patton Oswalt: Annihilation (2017)
Run Time: 1 hr 6 min | Director: Bobcat Goldthwait
Twitter fave Patton Oswalt taps into the profound and the heartbreaking with his 2017 special Annihilation, a set that ranges from the plight of comedy in the Trump era to a soul-searching exploration of grief in the wake of the tragically early passing of his wife Michelle McNamara. The expertise Oswalt commands in his tonal shifts are an impressive feat of comedy, threading an impossibly small needle whether he’s doing a bit entirely devoted to crowd work or digging into the heartbreaking experience of walking his daughter through the loss of a parent while working through his own grief. Standup comedy is rarely this raw or vulnerable while still demonstrating a performer’s sharp wit and command of cultural commentary. If there were any doubts after his decades in the industry, Annihilation proves Oswalt’s is one of the greats and demonstrates that old idiom of storytelling — the more personal you make it, the more universal it gets. Oswalt doesn’t wallow in his sorrow, he invites you there with him for a while to learn a bit about the best and worst of the human experience, to have a laugh, odd though that may sound, and to remind us all of an important lesson: It’s chaos, be kind.
Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King (2017)
Run Time: 1 hr 12 min | Director: Christopher Storer
After co-directing Bo Burnham’s fantastic, cinematic Make Happy, Christopher Storer teamed with Hasan Minhaj for the comedian’s debut standup special and once again nailed the line between a set made for the stage and the screen. But the expert camera use and home viewer-friendly staging is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the delights of Homecoming King, which transforms Minhaj’s hit off-Broadway show into stunning Netflix special. Homecoming King is first and foremost hilarious, and Minhaj has an expert sense of timing and emotional range to nail even the sharpest of cultural criticism — a talent he puts to great use on his Netflix series Patriot Act — pulling from a well of deeply personal comedy bits largely based around his experience growing up a child of immigrants. Minhaj tackles complicated topics with intelligence and wit, subverting the easy ranting route by taking time with his set-ups and delivering punchlines that often laugh a big laugh with emotional impact. But Minhaj never lets his audience linger in sadness, demonstrating precision timing and knowing just when to inflate and deflate his audience. It’s a next-level piece of standup and a thorough portrait of generational immigrant experiences that will make you eager for whatever the up-and-coming comedian has next.
Neal Brennan: 3 Mics (2017)
Run Time: 1 hr 5 min | Director: Neal Brennan
Best known as the co-creator of Chappelle’s Show, Neal Brennan takes the stage solo in his candid, innovative exploration of the place where comedy meets personal pain. As the title suggests, Brennan performs his set across three mics and three categories, “One-Liners,” “Emotional Stuff,” and “Stand-Up”. Not just a clever bit of creativity, his staging is an impressive shuffle across the stage and through emotional states while Brennan alternates between pithy one-liners that get a chuckle more often than not and tighter standup segments that earn bigger laughs. But the set reaches unique heights during the “Emotional Stuff,” the self-flaying segments that dive into Brennan’s struggles with depression, his shame as a “star fucker,” and most searing of all, his tortured relationship with his abusive father. Brennan’s sharp timing — he wrote, directed and performed the set — keeps it all moving, dropping the comedic segments just when the room needs to breathe and sucking the air out again at the point of most impact.
Tig Notaro: Happy to Be Here (2018)
Run Time: 58 min | Director: Tig Notaro
Tig Notaro survived a well-documented series of personal tragedies and setbacks, but she returns to the stage with a welcome bit of purely joyful comedy in Happy to Be Here. Considered something of an end to a comedic trilogy that started with Live, and Boyish Girl Interrupted, Happy to Be Here tinges Notaro’s signature deadpan and endlessly engaging storytelling with more playfulness than ever before. Whether she’s talking about attending Ellen and Portia’s joint birthday, her wife’s befuddling musings, or accidentally strangling the family cat with ribbons (it’s funnier than it sounds), Notaro delivers it all with infectious impish glee. If you want an example of how skilled Notaro is at commanding a crowd, look no further than Happy to Be Here‘s final bit, a seemingly endless back-and-forth where she teases the audience about whether or not the Indigo Girls will walk out on stage and close out her show. In the hands of pretty much anyone else, it’s the kind of gag that would grow tiresome in a hurry, but the magic of Notaro is that it never matters if the band plays or not, she’s such a gifted, mischievous storyteller, the audiences will laugh along with her every step of the way.
https://collider.com/best-stand-up-comedy-specials-on-netflix/ The Best Stand Up-Comedy Specials on Netflix (September 2023)