Net­flix a boon for co­me­di­ans


A mon­ster year for standup com­edy just got big­ger.

This year, long­time comic after long­time comic an­nounced plans to put out a new spe­cial after years, some­times decades. On Wed­nes­day, Jon Ste­wart joined that list when HBO an­nounced the for­mer host of The Daily Show would film a standup spe­cial.

The last time Ste­wart did that was with 1996’s Jon Ste­wart: Un­leav­ened on HBO.

“I’m really thrilled to be able to re­turn to standup on HBO,” Ste­wart said.

“They’ve al­ways set the standard for great standup spe­cials. Plus, I can fi­nally use up the last of the Sad­dam Hus­sein jokes left over from my first spe­cial.”

HBO used to be one of the main out­lets for standup. But recently Net­flix has dou­bled down on the genre, put­ting out an av­er­age of one new standup spe­cial a week in 2017, releasing some shorter, halfhour spe­cials from up-and-comers and re­port­edly sign­ing deals worth tens of mil­lions of dol­lars with standup leg­ends.

Here’s when to ex­pect Net­flix spe­cials from some of com­edy’s big­gest stars:

Jerry Se­in­feld will re­lease a new spe­cial later this year, with the tim­ing of a sec­ond spe­cial not yet de­ter­mined. His last was 1998’s I’m Telling You for the Last Time.

Chris Rock’s first new standup spe­cial will be re­leased in 2018 — 10 years since his last, Chris Rock: Kill the Mes­sen­ger. The date of his sec­ond Net­flix spe­cial hasn’t yet been an­nounced.

Ellen DeGeneres will re­lease a new spe­cial in 2018. Her last was 2003’s Here and Now.

Dave Chap­pelle has al­ready put out two pre­vi­ously un­re­leased standup spe­cials on Net­flix this year — his first new ma­te­rial re­leased since 2004’s Dave Chap­pelle: For What It’s Worth. He’s plan­ning to film a third spe­cial, with no date set yet.

Casey Bloys, HBO’s pres­i­dent of pro­gram­ming, ex­plained why the premium chan­nel has pulled back from standup in re­cent years. “As a cat­e­gory, standup spe­cials ac­count for less than one per cent of us­age on (HBO) Go and Now,” Bloys said at this week’s Tele­vi­sion Crit­ics As­so­ci­a­tion’s sum­mer press tour, ac­cord­ing to The Hol­ly­wood Reporter. He also re­port­edly re­ferred to Net­flix’s in­vest­ment as sim­i­lar to Com­edy Cen­tral’s standup push in the early 2000s.

“It’s hard for me to pay ex­or­bi­tant prices,” Bloys added. “When prices come down, or when it makes sense again, it’s rel­a­tively easy to get back in. We’ll wait it out.”

HBO has put out some talked­about spe­cials lately, including ones from Jer­rod Carmichael and T.J. Miller. But HBO’s out­put is noth­ing like the pace of Net­flix, which so far has re­leased at least 26 orig­i­nal spe­cials this year (and that al­ready sur­passes the 19 re­leased last year, and the 12 in 2015).

While HBO didn’t an­nounce when Ste­wart’s new standup spe­cial would be filmed or re­leased, the com­pany added that the comic will also host the Night of Too Many Stars com­edy ben­e­fit, per­formed live Nov. 18 at Madi­son Square Gar­den’s the­atre.

Ste­wart is un­der a four-year pro­duc­tion deal with HBO that be­gan in 2015. Months ago, he and HBO an­nounced they can­celled plans for a short-form an­i­ma­tion project.

“We all thought the project had great po­ten­tial, but there were tech­ni­cal is­sues in terms of pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion that proved too dif­fi­cult given the quick turn­around and top­i­cal na­ture of the ma­te­rial,” HBO said in a state­ment at the time. “We’re ex­cited to re­port that we have some fu­ture projects to­gether which you will be hear­ing about in the near fu­ture.”

It’s now be­com­ing clear that those “fu­ture projects” cen­tre on a re­turn to Ste­wart’s standup roots.


Jerry Se­in­feld will re­lease a new spe­cial with Net­flix later this year, with a sec­ond one on tap.

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