Each year, we take a look at the best stand-up comedy on Netflix. Whether you’re looking for new specials from the hottest comedians working today, or all-time classics from the legends of stand-up, Netflixhas you covered. Of all the streaming services, Netflix has perhaps the best catalog of stand-up comedy, from original specials that are exclusive to the service, to some of the best concert films and hour-longs that have debuted elsewhere. If you’re looking for something funny tonight, you can’t go wrong with any of the shows below.
25. Ali Wong – Baby Cobra
Baby Cobra, which Netflix released today, is more than the product of a carefully honed craft. It is an unusual portrait of transition: from young adulthood to adulthood, single life to marriage, marriage into motherhood. It is also the first network special to feature a deeply pregnant comedian, which is not a gimmick but a very practical undertaking. Wong refuses to slow down for the simple reason that slowing down, especially for a woman and mother in Hollywood, is the first step in a long fade to obscurity.
24. 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
23. Bill Burr – You People Are All the Same
Watching Bill Burr is like reading the world’s only self-aware YouTube comment. His routine can be (and often is) crass, crude and even ignorant, but it’s always cut with moments of clear-headed reflection. It’s even more evident in You People, in which Burr’s biggest bit wades into domestic abuse and its motives. Every time Burr veers close to a victim-blaming Men’s Rights tirade, he pulls back and lets his own humility ground him in reality. You can feel the audience’s queasiness as the pendulum swings each way, and Burr loves to call them out on it, reveling in the palpable unease. For most everyone else, saying “I’m just asking the question!” usually comes right after a copy-pasted truther manifesto, but here it’s a genuine (if exasperated) exclamation. In an age of daily social media flare-ups, Bill Burr is the thoughtful troll the Internet deserves. —Tristan Cooper
22. 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
21. John Mulaney – The Comeback Kid
Mulaney’s two comedic strong suits are his ability to dissect popular culture to hilarious effect (and this time Back to the Future’s Marty McFly and Doc Brown, as well as HGTV, end up on his skewer) and the yarns he spins from his own childhood and adolescent experiences. For his lengthier tales, which include Mulaney trying to be an alpha male of the house so his French Bulldog Petunia stops ruling the roost, and the time he met Bill Clinton when the Arkansas governor was running for president, he finds his footing assuredly, reminding audiences why he does what he does so well. There’s humanity in laughter, and the kind of laughter Mulaney encourages seems imperative in the wake of recent world events.—Amanda Wicks