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The 8 best Netflix stand-up specials you probably haven’t seen yet

Published Jan 29th, 2019 11:05AM EST
Best Netflix Shows
Image: Stewart Cook/Variety/Shutterstock

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In what seems like a blink of an eye, Netflix over the past few years managed to supplant HBO as the bastion of stand-up comedy. Whereas comics of the past used to dream of landing a stand-up special on HBO, most young comics today are laser focused on striking a deal with Netflix. And with good reason, Netflix has shown a willingness to shell out boatloads of cash to secure specials from some of the biggest comics working today. In 2016, for example, Netflix paid Chris Rock $40 million to record two one-hour specials. Dave Chappelle, meanwhile, reportedly earned upwards of $60 million for his string of four specials that dropped in 2017.

Notably, Netflix’s obsession with stand-up comedy stretches out far beyond some of the marquee names listed above. In recent years, the streaming giant has also been willing to provide up and coming comics — often on the periphery of mainstream success — with their own specials. Suffice it to say, Netflix’s content library today is absolutely brimming with top-notch stand-up, often from names you’ve never heard of. With that said, we thought it’d be a good idea to compile a list of some of the best Netflix stand-up specials you likely haven’t had the pleasure of watching yet. While award-winning Netflix specials from the likes of Chappelle and John Mulaney are undeniably brilliant, there’s a lot more stand-up worth checking out underneath the surface.

So without further ado, below is a short but sweet list of absolutely hysterical and laugh-out-loud Netflix stand-up specials you probably haven’t — but definitely should — watch.

Judah Friedlander – America Is The Greatest Country In The United States

This special starts off with a bang and doesn’t slow down for even one second. Friedlander is equal parts quick, clever, and outlandish. The special isn’t traditional insofar that it’s comprised of a few stand-up sets stitched together over the course of a few weeks. That notwithstanding, it’s shot beautifully and, more importantly, is heavy on the laughs.

DeRay Davis – How To Act Black

You’ve likely seen DeRay Davis in any number of movies or TV shows like Empire, but make no mistake about it, he’s a seasoned comic at the core. I watched his 2017 special “How To Act Black” on a whim and was blown away by his writing and performance.

Chelsea Peretti – One of the Greats

Chelsea Peretti’s stand-up special debuted all the way back in 2014. At the time, Netflix was still making a name for itself as a hub for original content which is why “One of the Greats” never quite managed to garner the amount of attention it rightly deserved. Truth be told, Peretti here delivers more laughs than some of the more popular Netflix specials making the rounds these days.

Anthony Jeselnik – Thoughts and Prayers

Anthony Jeselnik is many things but family-friendly isn’t an adjective you’d use to describe him. Jeselnik’s material is unabashedly dark, but he’s undeniably a great joke writer with wild premises and punch lines that will leave you laughing and shocked all at the same time.

Hasan  Minhaj – Homecoming King

You likely know Minhaj from his stint as a correspondent on The Daily Show, but there’s a good chance you may have missed his award-winning stand-up debut dubbed Homecoming King. Minhaj is an engaging presence who expertly weaves well-crafted jokes in and out of compelling stories. Minhaj’s entire take on the very concept of stand-up is a bit unique and well worth watching.

Neal Brennan – 3 Mics

I wasn’t initially going to include 3 Mics on the assumption that it was widely seen, but the reality is that most people in the mainstream likely aren’t familiar with the comedic genius that is Neal Brennan. Brennan is, at the core, a brilliantly and naturally funny guy. He’s funny on Twitter, he’s funny in interviews, he’s funny across every medium he touches. His Netflix stand-up debut — which is a mix of traditional stand-up, one liners, and personal stories — is incredible.

Hari Kondabolu – Warn Your Relatives

While you may be familiar with Hari Kondabolu as the man who took The Simpsons to task for their portrayal of Apu, you may not be as familiar with his stand-up. Suffice it to say, Kondabolu is a killer and his Netflix debut doesn’t disappoint. “Warn Your Relatives” didn’t seem to get much mainstream traction but it’s definitely one of the better undiscovered stand-up gems across all of Netflix.

Rory Scovel – Rory Scovel tries Stand-Up for the First Time

Scovel is high-energy, absurd, and wildly funny. Some of his antics are so unique that it’s almost hard to categorize what he’s doing. At the end of the day, though, Scovel delivers an endless amount of laughs. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of watching Scovel do his thing, you’re in for a treat with this one.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.