Did you know that you are currently living within one of the greatest eras of comedy? A vast number of entertainment channels have been launched in the past several years and are now widely available to the general populace. This gives comedians an opportunity to feature their stand-up comedy specials to a wider audience. The internet has also made comedy specials much more accessible helping comedians to reach new audiences with greater ease. Even novice comedians can get their material out to the pubic by creating funny YouTube comedy videos.
You can see comedy everywhere these days. However, nothing really compares to stand-up specials of the most popular comedians. So, lets look some of the most hilarious stand-up comedy specials out there today (listed in no particular order).
9. John Hodgman, Ragnarok
John Hodgman is quite an experienced comedian; he has been a daily show correspondent, a commercial star for Apple and a co-star of a most underrated TV show – HBO’s Bored To Death. But recently, he produced his own comedy special while refining his material at the weekly Secret Society Shows.
In his first stand-up special, which aired on Netflix, you see John transitioning between his character of a “deranged millionaire” to jokes about his own personal life. However, he sticks to the theme for the most part and offers ridiculous tips for doomsday. The special is presented by Scott Adsit from 30 Rock. John Hodgman doesn’t waste a minute of your time with this special. He has such a command over language which is unparalleled in the comedy world. However, the theme of the show does limit the scope of the material presented. However, you can tell he has a few spare jokes up his sleeves.
8. Aziz Ansari, Buried Alive
Over the past several years, Aziz Ansari has become more and more popular due to his brilliant stand-up acts. Throughout the year of 2013, he was seen performing for small groups at clubs and got quite a positive response. When Buried Alive made it on air, the final product was quite better than imagined.
During the hour and half special, you will see Ansari more relaxed and mature than ever before joking about various topics like marriage, children and modern age relationships. Although his jokes about the gay marriage debate and dick pics are a bit immature, he counters with marriage jokes which is a common sentiment among people of his generation. Ansari is also expanding on his dating and marriage material for his new book. However, buried alive remains one of the best stand-up comedy specials to date.
7. Eugene Mirman, Vegan on His Way to Complain Store
This special will show you just how confident Eugene Mirman is on stage. He has never been of the retiring type, but he is willing to throw a few puns and jokes during the Q and A answer sessions. He also sometimes brings people onto the stage and fakes his own wedding.
He also talks about his past life in the special. He mentions the fact that now that he is a public figure, he can go into Mexico with his former band and get recognized in a Guitar Center for the amazing work on Delocated. Mirman is thus the perfect comic; he can fill a small theater with people and keep his content interesting throughout, but he isn’t too famous to ignore the imperfections in the things in his surroundings.
6. Robert Klein, An Evening with Robert Klein
In the 1970s, there were only two main sources where people could experience stand-up material – either from vinyl or the six minute sprints on The Tonight Show. But Robert Klein broke this trend with the first ever HBO hour long special. Here he could make original jokes and he didn’t have to be funny in a hurry.
Robert Klein told the Washington Post, “They never asked me to change or rewrite something which I had written or look over my shoulder.” It’s easy to underestimate his comedic skills in comparison to comedy legends like Pryor or Carlin, but this act would still give you some laughs. Steve Martin, a popular comedian, called it as one of the greatest stand-up comedy specials ever. He said that his intelligence was nowhere near Robert Klein. The thing about the stand-up special of Robert Klein is that even if it is aired today, it will get a good many laughs.
5. Amy Schumer, Live at the Apollo
Amy Schumer has blown up in the last few years. Her stand up is absolutely fantastic. She felt like this performance – Live at the Apollo – was her victory lap and she killed it. Throughout the special, you keep on guessing whether she is playing a character or if she is just being straight out honest, exaggerating her desires and behavior in a manner which makes her relatable.
She is doing something which great comedians have been doing well for years which is playing an outsized version of herself and telling stories which may or may not be true, but which seem to be true. This shows that she has matured as a comedian and can make the audience laugh with subtler jokes.
4. Kevin Hart, Let Me Explain
It’s quite tempting to call a high energy comic as someone who will outlast every other comedian just because he works harder than anyone else. But one thing is for sure: when he is on a roll, Kevin Hart is genuinely fall-on-the-floor funny.
If you thought 2011’s ‘Laugh at My Pain’ comedy special by Kevin Hart was quite personal, then this stand-up comedy special takes it to a whole new level. That’s what makes it one of the best stand-up comedy specials of all time. Once he’s on stage and talking about his life, marriage, divorce, children and pathological lying, he has the whole place in the palm of his hands. Chris Rock praised him and said in Time magazine that he is kind of a cool stand-up comedian.
3. Bill Cosby, Himself
It’s quite impossible to watch nearly anything done by this comedian and not think of the headlines, the revelations and the monstrous behavior. However, let’s put that aside for the moment and only speak of his stand-up.
Hannibal Buress, a popular stand-up comedian, told GQ recently in 2013, “It is this stuff which holds up and all of it is evergreen”. Critics have also praised this performance and said that they have been covering stand up for so many years, but when they saw this performance, it felt like Bill was doing this performance for this first time. So if you want to be surprised and amazed, watch this stand-up comedy special.
2. Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted
After going through the two thirds of her performance on his HBO comedy special, Tig Notaro takes of her shirt and reveals her scars and performs the next part without her shirt and doesn’t even comment it. This part alone makes this performance one of the best stand-up comedy specials of all time. She did this act because she wanted to do something out of the ordinary. This was something that would stand out among other stand-up performances and it was welcomed by the audience.
However, this has been the rule of Notaro’s whole stand-up career. She always wants to do something that would stand out. For example, she once did a sketch on walking around in Las Vegas with ice cream mustache on her face which was quite hilarious. So you should definitely watch this comedy special.
1. Chris Rock, Bring the Pain
Anyone who has seen Chris Rock in many, many SNL specials, knows that he can make people laugh like crazy. But what people don’t know is that he was already doing stand-up for two years before this.
In his comedy special, he cracks his mic cable like a whip, and prowls on the stage and grins like he is just waiting to land his next big joke. He takes on everything from sex to drug addiction to cheating on his spouse. His critics have said that his stand-up sketches don’t only make people laugh because they are humorous, but because there is a pain and anger hidden behind them.
Making an audience laugh is quite a difficult thing because there are certain things you need to care about like waiting for the right time to make the audience laugh, waiting for the right punch line and taking advantage of the audience’s silence.
These stand-up comedy specials are the best ones out there. You will enjoy seeing the masters of their own craft at work. You can draw inspiration from these stand-up comedy specials. Rest assured, they will give you a reason to laugh.