Netflix: Best Stand Up Specials

It’s well known that comedy can be subjective, but Netflix has you covered.

No matter your sense of humour, you’ll be able to find something you enjoy on Netflix. For years they have been investing in creating standup specials that allow comedians to reach audiences regardless of their location, and they have only continued to expand their library of stand up comedy. There are definitely some gems just waiting for you to find them, so here are a few of the best to start off your search.

Tig Notaro: Happy To Be Here

Tig Notaro is an incredible comedian. Her ability to exercise control over her audience is extraordinary, and each of her pauses leave people on the edge of their seat, waiting for what comes next. You may be familiar with Notaro from her incredible stand up set in 2012, Live, performed just 4 days after her diagnosis of breast cancer, after also being diagnosed with C-Diff, and her mother passing away. In the days after the set, social media exploded with discussions of Notaro’s deadpan style and frankness about topics that most find hard to talk about. In Happy To Be Here, Notaro continues to talk about her life and find both joy and humour in unlikely places.


Tracy Morgan: Staying Alive

Tracy Morgan’s life-long career has been inventive, and in this special he talks about his serious car accident and resulting coma, as well as his family. Morgan has a lot of comedic experience, including his seven seasons on Saturday Night Live, and his character ‘Tracy Jordan’ on 30 Rock. The jokes come from an honest place; Morgan tells things as he sees them. Although he’s been through a lot, Morgan chooses to stay in the light rather than the dark, and here he finds laughter.

Katherine Ryan: In Trouble

A Canadian living in the UK, Katherine Ryan is a witty and bright comedian adept at commenting on social events. The beginning of her special starts with some crowd interaction that is a refreshing change from most recorded stand up sets, and it feels like you’re closer to being a part of the live audience. Ryan speaks a lot on the topic of being a single mother, not being afraid to talk about the reality of her life. Being a single parent among other partnered parents might not always be an easy task, but Ryan finds the humour in it.


John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid/Kid Gorgeous

John Mulaney’s shows are incredible pieces of writing and performance, brought to life with a persona that doesn’t quite match any other. Mulaney has a masterful stage presence that captivates his audience, keeping their eyes glued to him and waiting for his next word. It comes as no surprise that he wrote for Saturday Night Live for 6 years, and his recent Emmy Award for his writing of Kid Gorgeous is well deserved. Whether he’s discussing his childhood or equating the current presidency to a horse that’s been let loose in a hospital, his observations on small details and specificities are hilarious and well worth watching.


Hannah Gadsby: Nanette

Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette was such a resounding success in its original Melbourne run that many extra shows were added, it was brought around Australia, and it toured internationally. Netflix decided to bring Nanette to audiences in their own homes, and it continued to reach people that identified with the message. Gadsby is a master of holding tension, leaving the audience waiting for the release of laughter she seemingly controls so effortlessly. She discusses growing up in a small Tasmanian town, the impact that has had on her, and how it relates to events currently occurring in Australia. Nanette is a rollercoaster, with genuine laughs and heartbreaking stories, and if you haven’t seen it already, it’s one you need to watch.


Jen Kirkman: I’m Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine)/Just Keep Livin’?

In both of her specials, Jen Kirkman talks about how she doesn’t have kids, and her friend’s reactions when they happen to become parents. Kirkman also speaks on street harassment, being divorced, and being single amongst married friends. She puts into words what a lot of people think on a daily basis, and everyone is bound to find something they relate to in one of her shows.


Bo Burnham: Make Happy

Bo Burnham’s shows are a thrilling and hilarious experience, with incredibly impressive lighting and sound changes. The audio cues are so well rehearsed they seem spontaneous. Burnham’s humour is dark and intelligent, although for a moment you might get too lost in the beat of his music to notice the lyrics. Burnham might be young, but his comic sensibility and timing is better than many comics with more experience.


Chelsea Peretti: One of the Greats

You might know Chelsea Peretti from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and her character in the show is not too far from reality. Peretti’s of-beat humour, combined with her well written jokes, creates an infectious laughter that stays with you through the entire set. Peretti has written for a variety of comedy shows and online publications, so her script is well formed and full of jokes to catch. If you’ve ever seen any of her social media posts, you’ll understand that her humour is at times bizarre, but definitely worth a watch.

Be sure to keep an eye on Netflix, as they’re releasing Ellen Degeneres’ special Relatable in December, and Tiffany Haddish, Wanda Sykes and Ken Jeong are among the names to release their own specials next year.