Stand up and be counted
Continuing our series of Netflix selections, here’s 10 of the best comedy performances on the streaming service
Stewart Lee: 41st Best Stand Up Ever
Surreal and cerebral in equal measures, this show is classic Stewart Lee. Recorded in 2008 in Glasgow, behind the deadpan delivery is a multi-layered, meticulous set that’s certainly deserved of the lofty position of 41st Best Stand Up Ever – an accolade that’s one of the many subjects of his wrath.
Jen Kirkman: I’m Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine)
Don’t buy into Jen’s neuroses. The title and preamble of this stand up sets her up as childless and single but the Boston comic’s brand of comedy isn’t that where if you don’t laugh, she’ll cry. Instead, it’s top-shelf humour for the thinking comedy fan, with genius observations about the modern condition. Stick this one on “My list” now.
Bo Burham: Make Happy
A well-to-do white kid can rarely offer any new viewpoints in which to find comedy. But knowing that well-to-do white kids rapping is immediately hilarious, Bo goes the extra mile in Make Happy, matching the bravado of hip-hop with his middle class nature. His latest Netflix show culminates in a masterful pastiche of Kanye West, singing in true melodramatic style about overfilling a burrito. Brilliant.
Anthony Jeselnik: Thoughts and Prayers
Anthony Jeselnik has built up his live reputation by combining shock value with admirable wit: the offensiveness levels of his short skits and one-liners are off the charts. Best to leave your morals at the living room door and turn those gasps into laughs. Ali Wong: Baby Cobra A writer on smart US comedy Fresh Off The Boat, Ali Wong may look like a placid and petite Asian lady until she opens up that gutter mouth of hers. In her Netflix special, she shies away from no subject, whether it’s trapping her husband for his money (which backfired: “Now if I don’t work, we die. That’s why I’m performing seven and a half months pregnant”), or her thoughts on every kind of bodily fluid going. Every kind.
Hannibal Buress: Comedy Camisado
Otherwise known as Bill Cosby’s least favourite comedian and as Lincoln from Broad City, Hannibal Buress shows his true self, sans glasses, in this hour long special. Those who caught this show last year will confirm that his nonchalant delivery only adds to the power of his jokes. Stream Hannibal Takes Edinburgh too, for an insightful behind-the-scenes look on what it’s like to play a month’s worth of shows at the famous fringe festival.
Bill Hicks: Revelations
Bill Hicks’s final recorded special at the Palladium, London, in 1993, is a master- class in how to do stand up. The Godfather of comedy’s now-legendary monologue tackles advertising, drugs and Christianity with abandon, and holds true now just as much as it did then. Watch and learn.
Aziz Ansari: Live at Madison Square Gardens
With a show that’s been conscientiously crafted, it’s not Ansari’s style to pretend it’s made up on the spot. But the spiel is strong in his one, and his second gen perspective is rich fodder for stories more weighty than texting someone you fancy – although that’s excellently covered too.
Frankie Boyle: Hurt Like You’ve Never Been Loved
Not always the most PC of comedians, Frankie Boyle’s close-to-the-bone humour is out in full force in his hometown of Glasgow. It leads to a supremely Scottish evening with Edinburgh vs Glasgow gags, political lampooning and insults aplenty.
Louis CK: Live at the Beacon Theatre
One of this generation’s greats, Louis CK’s everyguy persona sits comfortably with his knack of finding humour in the weird, wonderful and downright ordinary. In his 2011 live show, well-worn subjects such as post-coital gender differences are tackled in a novel way, but it’s his leftfield stories about hating a six-year-old or the guilt of first-class flying that make him one of a kind.
Stewart Lee: lofty position of 41st Best Stand Up Ever