Netflix has invested heavily in original comedy over the last three years, signing the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Chapelle and Jerry Seinfeld up to multi-million pound deals – meaning the catalogue is now stacked with top notch sets from the best stand-ups around.
Check out the 10 best stand-up sets on Netflix UK below.
Ricky Gervais: Humanity
Gervais’ stand-up tour last year was hailed, by critics and by Ricky Gervais, as his best ever. Netflix filmed it during the comedian’s three-week residency at the Apollo in London. Although his capacity to offend, and then goad people for being justifiably offended, is still in evidence, Gervais also draws more reflectively on episodes form his own life.
34-year-old Wong filmed her first stand-up special, Baby Cobra, when she was seven and a half months pregnant. She touches upon this in the show: “it’s very rare and unusual to see a female comic perform pregnant, because female comics… Don’t get pregnant”. As an outlier in stand-up comedy, she offers fresh and hilarious takes on the female body, race and gender.
“You’d think every once in a while the cops would shoot a white kid just to make it look good,” Rock says at the beginning of his first standup special in 10 years. He’s unafraid, as ever, to find humour in serious topics. He doesn’t let himself off the hook, touching upon his infidelity and his addiction to pornography. It’s a brilliant, at times brutal, hour of comedy.
Despite being plucked from relative obscurity as a result of a pointed Bill Cosby rape accusation joke he made at a show in 2014, Buress is known for low-key observational comedy rather than political scrutiny. In Comedy Camisado he produces a string of rants, including a standout anecdote in which he is ID’d while ordering a bloody mary at lunch,“because that’s what the kids are into these days”.
Dave Chappelle: Age of Spin
Dave Chappelle returned with two Netflix specials in early 2017, after a period of self-imposed isolation. It quickly became the most popular of all time on the streaming service. Age of Spin is easily the strongest of the two, and follows a loose structure based around the four times Chapelle has met OJ Simpson throughout his career. Though lacking some of the urgency of his early specials, Chappelle appears more chilled-out and at home than ever as he meanders through anecdotes about bombing at gigs, his family life and a take on the Bill Cosby sex scandal that is both hilarious and mournful.
Richard Pryor: Live in Concert
If you’ve ever wondered why Richard Pryor is held in such high regard by comedians (Chris Rock dubbed him “the Rosa Parks of stand-up”) then his 1978 special, Live in Concert, is a good place to begin. It is a showcase of his sparkling energy and an incredible talent for turning personal troubles, such as his difficult home life while growing up, into comedy gold. But most importantly, it features a trademark impression of, literally, a deer in the headlights.
Fred Armisen: Stand-up for Drummers
The former Saturday Night Live man and master impressionists goes ultra niche in his new comedy special. He isn’t being facetious with the title: the audience is entirely made up of drummers and there are a lot of jokes about drumming. It’s more accessible than you would think, though, and his impersonations of Ringo Starr, John Bonham and Meg White are on point.
James Acaster: Repertoire
Netflix picks up one of Britain’s best stand-ups, as Acaster’s whirling mind delivers not one but four linked performances. He finds left-field laughs in the most trivial of places: “favourite number? Umpteen. It sounds big, but… it’s in the teens.”
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news