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The 25 Best Stand-Up Comedy Specials on Netflix Instant

August 25, 2014  |  9:00am
The 25 Best Stand-Up Comedy Specials on Netflix Instant

Everyone knows Netflix has an enormous selection of movies, TV shows and documentaries ready for you to stream at a moment’s notice, even if it might take a little longer than a moment to decide what you want to watch. What often goes unappreciated is its impressive collection of stand-up comedy specials. If you’re in need of a laugh but don’t want to jump into a TV series or sit through a two-hour movie, Neftlix offers hours of stand-up from everyone from Richard Pryor to Rob Delaney. We’ve combed the archives to come up with our favorite 25 specials that are available to stream right now, tonight, this weekend, or whenever you feel like laughing your ass off.

25. John Hodgman – Ragnarok

Filmed on the eve of the Mayan Apocalypse in 2012, Hodgman acknowledges that the fear of the end of the world is very common, but the way he celebrates it will only be fully appreciated by a chosen few. Beneath the steely veneer of John Hodgman’s millionaire shtick lies a comedian who’s part of a very special club, the kind that is always accepting new members. It helps if you’re someone who knows what Ragnarok is, in which comic book it is prominently featured and who is famous for drawing that comic book. It helps more if you’re someone familiar with ambergris and could also hold an extended debate about the intricacies of Watership Down. Most of all, it’s going to help if you’re not the kind of person to be put off by sober musical interludes and singalongs right out of A Prairie Home Companion. If that sounds like you, then there’s a very special place for you in the shade of Hodgman’s formidable goatee. —Tristan Cooper

24. Iliza Shlesinger – War Paint

Dallas, Texas isn’t typically a city where comics choose to tape their stand-up specials, but it made sense for Iliza Shlesinger, who was born and raised in the Big D before going on to win Last Comic Standing in 2008. But Shlesinger isn’t as polite as you might expect someone from someone from the South. She’s coarse, irreverent and unapologetically everything. She does voices—including a terrifying demonic one—to add color to jokes and no subject is off limits. The special is called “War Paint” for a reason. —Ryan Bort

23. Lewis Black – Old Yeller

Lewis, we’re here today because we’re worried about you. Not about your standup routine—after all these years, we still love hearing you rail against everything from congress to social media. Your explosions are hilarious in a way only a rabid toothless bulldog can be, but we have to imagine that the festering rage is slowly poisoning you. At this point, a submarine diving into the Mariana Trench is less pressurized than the blood festering in your veins. While that boiling anger is part of what we love about you, we could take a few less flare-ups if it meant we could keep you around a little longer. —Tristan Cooper

22. Gary Gulman – In This Economy?

There’s a gentle smile after every one of Gary Gulman’s punchlines on In This Economy. Gulman’s the master of a semi-sarcastic deadpan observation, taking simple obvious statements—like the fact that a MegaMillions jackpot winning streak for 600 consecutive weeks is “very rare”—and deploying them with precise timing and delivery to make them profound. Gulman’s letting you know that he’s in on the joke, and that you’re in on it with him. You’re in this together, and that camaraderie carries you through In This Economy as Gulman dissects differences between billionaires, re-watching The Karate Kid and ways to save money. That quick grin is something you don’t get on the album version of the special, and it’s a perfect illustration of why stand-up is about much more than the jokes you write: it’s performance art. —Casey Malone

21. Jim Norton – American Degenerate

Jim Norton is just asking for you to get offended. Literally. The title of his 2012 special is Please Get Offended. For its follow-up, 2013’s American Degenerate, Norton hasn’t pulled his foot off the gas one iota, and it doesn’t take very long for this realization to set in (i.e. his first joke is about wanting to have sex with Casey Anthony). For the next hour Norton goes into the creepy (and hilarious) details of his many sexual perversions, notes how impressive it was that John Travolta could “swing his asshole open like saloon doors” and, well, a lot more filthy, raunchy sex stuff that most people wouldn’t even dare to think about, much less discuss it in front of a theater full of people. It makes you recoil and laugh hysterically at the same time, and as long as the latter is true, Norton is doing his job. —Ryan Bort

20. Rob Delaney – Live At The Bowery Ballroom

The King of Twitter Comedy rose to fame through the 140-character medium and now has almost one million followers. He now does comedy full-time and his first big standup special is last year’s Live At The Bowery Ballroom. Delaney takes his fans through graphic, yet hilarious, adventures (most of which have to do with the human body and/or bodily functions). —Eric Gossett

19. Kevin Hart – Seriously Funny

Comedian Kevin Hart made Seriously Funny back in 2010. Filmed in Cleveland, Ohio, Hart tells stories about the difficulties of fatherhood and the dangers of fighting. Prior to making Seriously Funny, Hart had already made a name for himself with appearances in movies like The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Scary Movie 4, and Death At A Funeral. —Eric Gossett

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