From Bill Hicks to Hannah Gadsby, Dave Chappelle to Josie Long here are 50 specials you can watch right now
Oh, how you spoil us, the internet. Watching a comedians latest show used to involve waiting for one of about eight comics to release a VHS/DVD or, gulp, leaving the house. Today, we hold the whip hand. Such is our desire to sit around watching standup in our pyjamas, streaming services cant get them out fast enough. Netflix is our most deep-pocketed and reliable dealer, pumping out no less than 45 original shows in 2019, up from one in 2012. But there are other providers, notably Amazon Prime Video, iPlayer, and smaller outfits such as NextUp and Go Faster Stripe, which do a fine job of mopping up lesser-known comics and hidden gems.
To the bean-counters at Netflix et al, the appeal of these specials is obvious: they are cheap to make compared with sitcoms and films, but they still attract a lot of eyeballs. And to the ambitious comic, it can mean the difference between national and international success. This has led to little outbreaks of creativity here and there, as comedians embrace the formats increasing dominance. Maria Bamfords decision to record her show The Special Special Special! in a living room, in front of an audience of just two (her baffled but supportive parents), was inspired and in keeping with her unorthodox act. In his BBC series Comedy Vehicle, Stewart Lee literally spoke down to the audience at home through a camera at the side of the stage. The streaming services are starting to experiment now, too, with shorter, snackable shows of just 15 to 30 minutes, as a way of showcasing rising stars. All of which means that the humble TV viewer might require some help to hack through this jungle of options. So, in that spirit, we have put together 50 of the best standup specials you can find online. PF
Baby Cobra Netflix
Baby Cobra didnt just give us Ali Wong, she of the death stare and the dead-on observations; it also created a sub-genre of special: the heavily pregnant ones. You havent seen physical comedy mastered until youve seen a woman, seven-and-a-half-months pregnant, writhing about, re-enacting some moves she learned in Atlanta.
Best bit: I dont want to lean in OK? I want to lie down. EEJ