Who doesn’t love comedy? Besides horror, it is the most enduring genre in history. While trends come and go, people always want to laugh. And with comedy existing in every form imaginable, there is still something for everyone. Knowing this, Netflix has been on a crusade to conquer the collective chuckles of the nation, and create the best catalog for comedy out there. So far they are succeeding.
The most direct and essential form of comedy, stand-up comedians are hilarious, but deceptively tough as well. Resilient beyond belief, with personal issues beyond repair, they made it through the grueling process of bombing on stage over and over. And bless them for it. From legends to relative unknowns, there is something to explore and enjoy for everyone.
The larger-than-life story of comedian Dave Chappelle is hard to fathom. Turning down a multi-million dollar deal for his influential sketch show, Chappelle’s Show, he moved to a remote farm in Ohio. And if that did not make enough headlines back then, he practically vanished from showbusiness. But his story was not over yet. Quietly performing the comedy circle, showing up to do sets at random, he worked himself towards a comeback. In 2017 it was finally time for him to show his face on screen again. He followed up his award-nominated appearance on Saturday Night Live, with four different stand-up specials on Netflix.
Being possibly the best working comic of his generation, Dave Chappelle shows the heights and layers stand-up comedy can take. Fiercely himself, it is hard not to be impressed by this man’s comedy chops.
Seth Rogan: Hilarity for Charity
Seth Rogan has become a household name. He is one of the most recognizable faces working in comedy today. The only thing more noteworthy than his face is his laughter. Rogan is, however, mostly known for his work as a comedic actor in movies like Knocked Up. Stand-up has not been his arena up til now. What many might not know is that, besides his work in the entertainment industry, he is active in Alzheimer’s charity work. So to raise money for a cause near and dear to his heart, he struck a deal with Netflix. The result is a variety show featuring stand-up performances, live music, and appearances from Sarah Silverman to the Muppets. It is funny, and for a good cause.
The world of stand-up comedy is a hard place. It’s rough on people trying to make it, barely any of them actually make a living from it. Sure, we all know some famous comedians. But, what about all the newcomers out there trying to make it? If you are interested in these fresh new voices, Netflix has the show for you. The Standups takes Los Angeles’ best and brightest funny people and puts them in the spotlight. With two seasons, each containing six half-hour specials from your new favorite comedian, The Standups provides entertainment that puts you ahead of the curve.
The Honeymoon Stand-Up Special
Created by, and starring married comedians Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher, The Honeymoon Stand-Up Special is a hilarious exploration of love and marriage. The three-part special consists of half-hour sets by both Leggero and Kasher, as well as improvised banter only a couple dedicated to marriage can do. It’s the definite highlight of the program. After the performances finish, the hosts pull unwitting couples up on stage for a “Couples Roast.” Testing their audience’s love, Leggero and Kasher might make them uncomfortable, but our stomachs hurt from laughter.
Chris Rock: Tamborine
Before he became one of the biggest names in comedy, Chris Rock was just another no-name trying to make it on stage. A lot has happened since those days. Having starred in movies like the Madagascar series, Grown-Ups, Top Five, and hosting the Oscars, Chris Rock has arrived. Still, when stand-up came calling again, and he answered. So 10 years after his last special, Netflix got Rock back on stage. Grown older, but no less funny, Tamborine proves that you can still have a comeback even if you never left. Chris Rock sheds the veil of stardom in a profoundly personal hour of entertainment.
Ever since The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, the late-night talk show has been a staple of television. Providing funny anecdotes from celebrity guests, giving comedians a platform to perform in front of millions of people, all while producing a comedy show running five days a week. These days there are multiple late-night shows to choose from, so naturally, Netflix is not willing to get beaten on the talk show front.
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction
Despite the legacy Carson left behind, David Letterman was the king of late-night comedy for millions. His 22 year run at the Late Show racked up an unbelievable 4263 episodes. And when in 2015 Stephen Colbert took over the Late Show, his retirement seemed complete. But Netflix had different plans. Titled after one of his catchphrases, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman brought Letterman to the streaming services. Each episode features a one-hour long-form conversation with a famous guest. Not only are they more personal than the traditional late-night format, but also still as funny as always.
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
Formerly part of Sony’s Crackle streaming service, Netflix was able to snatch up Jerry Seinfeld and his singular talk show. The title pretty much says it all. Being a fanatic about both cars and coffee, legendary comedian Jerry Seinfeld invites another comedian to take a ride with him and have a coffee. But what makes the show such an enjoyable watch, besides its original approach to the talk show format, is Jerry Seinfeld himself. Seinfeld is, for lack of a better term, an eccentric guy. He does not care all that much about his guests it seems, sometimes he clicks with them, and sometimes he does not. The results are awkward, hilarious and raw. It is all edge, zero polish, and tons of fun.
A Little Help with Carol Burnett
Life is hard. Nothing is worse than when a problem gets you down, and instead of solving it, you are stuck in your head. You begin to think circles around a solution, and spiral into depths of overcomplication. What if there was a way to keep it simple? Actress Carol Burnett has the answer. Celebrity guests come to her with personal problems, and with the help of a group of kids, they brainstorm fixes. Sometimes they work, sometimes they are just plain silly. In other words, they’re kids, so what did you expect?
The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale
Actor/comedian Joel McHale has opinions, he also brought all 12 seasons of his show, The Soup to Netflix. With popular culture and television seemingly reaching new heights of absurdity every day, one man says what we are all thinking. The Soup has now become the Joel McHale show. The name might be different, but the format stayed the same. Hosted by Joel Mchale, The Joel McHale Show provides satirical and sarcastic commentary on clips covering everything the world of entertainment has to offer. Unlike most Netflix shows, The Joel McHale Show is released weekly to ensure maximum relevance.
Netflix’s first foray into the late-night market is headlined by comedian Chelsea Handler. Unlike many of its late-show competitors, Chelsea took a decidedly more global approach, thanks to the streaming service’s audience watching worldwide. While it had its following, the show was canceled after two seasons but remains an immensely exciting exploration of what a comedic talk-show can be. Its global approach, coupled with it not being shackled to a late-night timeslot, makes it fascinating to compare in a busy market.
The supreme discipline of the comedy genre. Ever since television has existed, TV comedy had its place in the primetime. Sitcoms, sketch-shows, animated cartoons and everything in between. Every generation had its favorites to tune in weekly. And with Netflix being the king of streaming shows, it is no wonder that subscribers can choose from a large range of options.
Master of None
Based heavily on the background and interest of its two creators, Master of None follows the daily life and struggles of Dev (Aziz Ansari). Being a struggling actor in his early 30s and living in New York, Dev deals with the same problems we all do: modern dating, love, friendship, and food. Its angle, and empathy for the underrepresented, are what elevate the show from its generic set-up. Being Indian-American himself, Ansari and his partner Alan Young explore topics of immigration and identity. Received with critical acclaim, the show is immensely funny and charming and won awards for the quality of its writing.
Surprising deep, especially in light of its simplistic cartoon style, Bojack Horseman is more than meets the eye. Back in the 90s, Bojack Horseman (Will Arnett) starred in a very famous TV show. Now, the washed-up actor doesn’t have much to show for it. No friends and no family, the only thing he hates more than other people is himself. Only when a ghostwriter (Allison Brie) comes into his life to help him write his memoirs does Horseman begin to question his life decisions. This animated show filled with talking animals is not only a hilarious parody of Hollywood and the film industry but also a heartbreaking drama. No show on television portrays mental illness, depression and the damage we cause to others better — or more hilariously — than this show starring a talking horse.
Netflix is the home of the best true crime out there. On the heel of the genre’s success came, out of nowhere, American Vandal. The pitch-perfect parody revolves around the central mystery of who sprayed the dicks on the teacher’s car. Everyone believes it was local idiot Dylan Maxwell (Jimmy Tatro), but two junior filmmakers have their doubts. Noticing that the drawing’s do not line up with Dylan’s usual style for drawing dicks, they begin to investigate. What follows is a six-episode investigation that is both funny true-crime homage, but also a genuinely suspenseful mystery-drama.
One of the most cult-y of cult sitcoms, Arrested Development is a prime example of Netflix reviving unwanted shows. It revolves around the wealthy yet dysfunctional Bluth family dealing with bankruptcy. Only their second-eldest son, Michael (Jason Bateman), can keep his relatives from falling apart—all the while trying to save his young son George-Michael (Michael Cera) from turning into a Bluth himself. Never a mainstream success during its initial television run, Netflix renewed the show for a fourth season back in 2013. A fifth season is on its way this year, and it remains to be seen what the Bluth family is up to 15 years after their inception.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
From the mind of 30 Rock creator and star Tina Fey, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is an exercise of excellence from one of TV comedy’s most brilliant writers. After being rescued from the underground bunker of a doomsday cult, the now 29-year-old Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) has to learn to live in the real world. Having spent 15 years thinking the apocalypse has happened, Kimmy moves to New York to start a new life. Unbelievably naive, yet possessing an unbreakable positivity, Kimmy learns what it means to be an adult. One job, crazy neighbor and boy at a time.
With too many great and influential comedies to count over the decades, Netflix finds itself in fierce competition. Yet, the streaming services produces and co-produces a steady flow of belly-achingly funny blockbusters.
Comedy and tragedy are only separated by a thin line. In Greek theatre tradition the difference was just the number of people in the choir. Halfway between comedy and tragedy, the “tramedy” has been a staple of Hollywood. Who doesn’t like their dramas sprinkled with a bit of humor? Inspired by a true story, a father and son take a road trip to the last lab in the world still developing photo film in the Kodachrome method. The two have been estranged for years, but as news comes in that the father is dying, the two try to fix their relationship by reaching the lab before it closes its doors for good.
The Week Of
Adam Sandler has been a controversial figure in film. Continually swinging back and forth between movies scoffed at by critics, and acclaimed roles in movies like Punch Drunk Love, it is hard to pin the man down. What is undeniable though, outside the lofty heights of the critics, his comedies are still top-rated. The Week Of is only the latest collaboration between Sandler and Netflix, which already netted us three other comedies. Co-starring Chris Rock, the movie tells the story of two dads who children are getting married to each other. With conflicting views on how the wedding should take place, the two have to learn to work together against each other.
Based on the book The Operators, War Machine is a movie about the work of four-star general Glen McMahon (Brad Pitt). Renowned for his leadership during the Iraq War, he is sent to Afghanistan to assess the situation on the ground. He leads a massive rebuild of the US operations in the war-torn nation despite being confronted with opposition from enemies, allies and bureaucrats alike. His methods to achieve this, and his demeanor in general, however, is not what anyone expected. War Machine is a satire about the absurdity of war, government bureaucracy, and what it means to be an American today.
David Brent: Life on the Road
The Office was a cultural landmark. Both the British original and the American remake have been huge successes in their own right. Where the American version went on for nine seasons, the British one lasted only two. This leaves a lot of room to explore the continuing life of the loveably despicable office manager David Brent. Trying to fill these expectations, Ricky Gervais slipped back into the shoes of his most famous creation. Now far away from the confines of a paper company, Brent travels up and down the country to finally live out his rock star dreams. One awkward interaction at a time.
Written by and starring infamous alternative comedian Julian Barratt of Mighty Boosh fame, Mindhorn is one weird little movie. Initially a British film, it was picked up by Netflix for international distribution.
Best known for his 80s television show Mindhorn, actor Richard Thorncraft (Barratt) spend the next 25 years ruining his career and basking in his ego. But when a lunatic wanted for murder escapes an insane asylum, the police require Thorncraft’s help. Believing Mindhorn is real, the escapee refuses to speak to anyone but him. So, with the almost three decades showing on his belly and in his gray hair, Thorncraft has to resume his most famous role — this time for real.
Netflix Loves Laughter
Netflix is on its way to dominating the comedy market. It already has a near monopoly on stand-up comedy, providing an unfiltered platform for comedians to perform. If you want high-end comedy these days, you have to tune into Netflix. And unlike regular television, you can continue watching as much as you want. It provides both niche giggles and broad appeal. Put simply; no other streaming service can compete. It’s funny cause it’s true!
Featured Image: Screenshot, by Netflix, via YouTube