Netflix has become the go-to home for stand-up comedy specials, plenty of which are from the industry’s most powerful names.
Long-awaited specials from comedy titans like Dave Chappelle and Jerry Seinfeld have hit the streaming service. Which means there are plenty of compelling reasons to stay indoors and laugh your head off right now. And it gets more convenient because Netflix releases excellent hourlong sets on a regular basis.
Whether you like dry and dark humor or lively physical comedy, we have cherry-picked the 12 stand-up specials we think are worth streaming now.
This award-winning special announced Hannah Gadsby as a refreshing comic visionary unafraid to go for a complex balancing act. The comedian wrings the biggest laughs with stories about coming out as a lesbian in Tasmania, Australia. But then the hour shifts from self-deprecation to a passionate critique of the way culture marginalizes people. Along the way, she purposefully makes the audience tense, and the result is a tour de force performance that defies what we expect from comedians.
You’ll laugh if: you’re ready for a cathartic defies that will leave you stunned.
The Honeymoon Stand Up Special: Collection (2018)
The Another Period star Natasha Leggero and Problematic host Moshe Kasher team up for a trio of half-hour installments in which they brag about being “relationship experts” after a single year of marriage and one pregnancy. If nothing else, they prove they’re already acing their comedy partnership as they playfully file complaints about each other. But their best material is crowdsourced: They get it from the brave couples in the audience who they invite onstage to get thoroughly roasted.
You’ll laugh if: You love to see two pros go off-script in a free-form setting.
Sarah Silverman A Speck of Dust (2017)
Here, the unfiltered star and producer of Hulu’s I Love You, America trades her old idiosyncratic persona for pure honesty. Silverman manages to pull off a balancing act between a call for bipartisan understanding and some bizarre musings.
You’ll laugh if: You’re ready for silly but occasionally earnest humor with a moving ending that goes right for the heart.
Dave Chappelle: The Age of Spin (2017)
Framed around his run-ins with O.J. Simpson, Chappelle proves he’s an unapologetic master with this comeback special. While he received backlash for a number of his jokes, he also tackles a lighter topics. There’s a delightful interlude about Care Bears as well as an ego-bruising tale of the time his son met his comedy idol, Kevin Hart. On the whole, the pro’s eagerness to make you laugh is nowhere to be found, and that’s a good thing.
You’ll laugh if: You like jokes that reflect a firm world view from a comic who isn’t worried about anyone’s comfort zones.
Neal Brennan 3 Mics (2017)
The co-creator of Chappelle’s Show lives in a world of his own design, one full of disturbing trials people might not want to think about. So it’s no surprise that the raconteur’s deconstructive set is one part confession, one part rapid-fire punchlines and one part traditional stand up depending on which microphone he’s standing at. (He moves around, hence the title.)
You’ll laugh if: You’re up for a rollercoaster ride in the hands of a man who’s not trying to be funny but is hilarious, and isn’t trying to depress you, but might.
Jen Kirkman: Just Keep Livin’? (2017)
“I didn’t ask to be born and I’m afraid to die,” is how Kirkman sums up her sensibility during this sarcasm fest. Years of making her mark in comedy clubs has brought out the best in this comedian, whose smirk lets you know nothing’s too dark to laugh at.
You’ll laugh if: You delight in woman-centric-but required for everyone subject matter from a tongue-in-cheek vet. Yes, she wants you to laugh at her absurdist experiences, and she’s done it all: case in point the “just keep livin'” permanent ink she got after Matthew McConaughey’s inspirational Golden Globes speech.
Maria Bamford: Old Baby (2017)
The stand-up comedian is best known for doing groundbreaking comedy that aims to lessen the stigma of mental illness. Nailing the voices and crinkled faces of character after character — each one weirder than the next — Bamford reveals her own unique perspective on human behavior. The venues in this roaming special may change, but whether she’s performing for a group on the street or for one person at home, she kills.
You’ll laugh if: You’re keen to be transported into her mind, which is full of uncomfortable encounters with people who are much more confident than she is.
Joe Mande’s Award-Winning Comedy Special (2017)
Being awkward in humiliating situations is the stand-up and Parks and Recreation writer’s resting state, but he never loses his audience thanks to his envelope-pushing storytelling. Framed around the race for a fake comedy award, Mande’s special goes there with zero misfires.
You’ll laugh if: You’re ready for gut-busting takes about everything from ISIS to MTV’s Next.
Ali Wong: Baby Cobra (2016)
The actor and Fresh Off the Boat writer left everyone in the dust with this breakout special. Her main targets: feminism (she’s more into lying down than leaning in), her husband and racial stereotypes.
You’ll laugh if: You enjoy running jokes about pregnancy — Wong was not far from giving birth when she filmed this special — and her passion for doing nothing.
Hannibal Buress: Comedy Camisado (2016)
This skeptical comedian toggles between truly random slices of life and winding hypotheticals about subjects ranging from absurd ID-checking rules to the weirdness of his rising fame: Buress’ viral bit spurred media coverage of sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby.
You’ll laugh if: You cry-laugh at free-flowing wisecracks that elevate low-stakes slights to high-stakes drama. Buress goes long on everything from customer service injustices to the ridiculousness of deviled eggs.
John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid (2015)
The former Saturday Night Live writer who (along with cast member Bill Hader) created the bizarro club kid Stefon plays the cosmic joke of life for laughs in a razor-sharp show that’s bursting with pop culture references. (The Fugitive’s one-armed man gets a shout-out.)
You’ll laugh if: You dig long-running jokes that build to huge payoffs, like the one about how his father geared him up for a life of endless disappointment.
Aziz Ansari: Live at Madison Square Garden (2015)
Bounding across the stage, the Parks and Recreation scene-stealer — he’s since won accolades as the creator and star of Master of None — laces his observation humor with sharp insights about dating, sexual harassment and our obsession with smartphones.
You’ll laugh if: You like your topical commentary delivered with breakneck enthusiasm and infectious energy by one of the comedy world’s most versatile voices.
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