The 20 Best Stand-Up Specials Available for Comedy Fans to Stream Now

From Jerry Seinfeld to Ellen DeGeneres, Pete Davidson to Ali Wong and more, these are the 20 best stand-up specials available to stream now.

By Billy Nilles Apr 30, 2020 12:00 AMTags
Watch: Does Jerry Seinfeld's 16-Year-Old Daughter Watch "Seinfeld"?

Who could use a good laugh right about now?

There's no denying that times are tough right now, as the world continues to social distance from one another amid the global coronavirus pandemic. And that means no going out to public events like concerts or comedy shows. So what's a comedy fan to do in these dark times when laughter just might be the best medicine? (Unless you're sick, in which case medicine would certainly be the best medicine.)

Luckily for us, there's plenty of first-rate stand-up specials from some of the funniest people in the game available to stream right now, provided you've got a subscription or three to streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and HBO Go.

From legends like Jerry Seinfeld, who's celebrating his 67th birthday on April 29 and marking it with the release of his first original stand-up special in 22 years, 23 Hours to Kill, on Netflix May 5, and Ellen DeGeneres to up-and-comers like Ali Wong, Pete Davidson and Julio Torres, there's so much out there just waiting to have you in stitches.

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To get you started, we've handpicked 20 of the best specials available right now. So, go forth and laugh. You can thank us later.

Getty Images;Netflix; Melissa Herwitt/E! Illustration
Fortune Feimster: Sweet & Salty

For her first hour-long stand-up special, released in early 2020, Southern-born Fortune Feimster (The Mindy Project) hilariously takes fans inside her youth as a Girl Scout, debutante and swim meet champion coming to terms with her sexuality. 

WHERE TO STREAM: Netflix

Wanda Sykes: Not Normal

In her latest hour-long special—the first the comedy vet has ever filmed for Netflix—Wanda Sykes gives her uniquely hilarious perspective on the state of the world. Though, with the world getting a whole lot less normal since its release in 2019, the insanity she's riffing on almost feels quaint by comparison.

WHERE TO STREAM: Netflix

Ronny Chieng: Asian Comedian Destroys America!

In this late 2019 special, the Daily Show correspondent and Crazy Rich Asians star Ronny Chieng, born in Malaysia and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire, Singapore and Australia, gives a peek inside his unique journey to America while sharing his hilarious perspective on things like consumerism and the possibility of an Asian-American president.

WHERE TO STREAM: Netflix

Leslie Jones: Time Machine

Leslie Jones is her fabulously unhinged self in this side-splitting tour through young adulthood to the present. Fun fact: Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss directed the beloved SNL vet for her first hour-long special.

WHERE TO STREAM: Netflix

 

Hasan Minaj: Homecoming King

In this 2017 special, Hasan Minaj, then still working on The Daily Show, gave a peek into what would become his hit show Patriot Act while riffing on racism, immigrant parents and prom night horrors as filtered through his unique lens as a Muslim American.

WHERE TO STREAM: Netflix

Fred Armisen: Standup for Drummers

On paper, watching Fred Armisen deliver a set of jokes about drumming and drummers to an audience of drummers sounds, well, odd. But watching the masterful SNL and Portlandia vet, as skilled behind the drums as he is as absurdist comedy, in action is something to behold. Trust us, even if you don't know a thing about the kit, you'll laugh.

WHERE TO STREAM: Netflix

Amy Schumer: Growing

In this early 2019 hour-long special, a very pregnant Amy Schumer gives her take on married love, her intense pregnancy, and all the personal progress she'd made along the way.

WHERE TO STREAM: Netflix

Ali Wong: Baby Cobra

In this 2016 special, Ali Wong made her breakthrough and kickstarted the whole "performing stand-up while wildly pregnant" trend (see Amy Schumer above). Over the course of an hour, a comedy legend is formally introduced to the world. It's truly a tour-de-force.

WHERE TO STREAM: Netflix

 

Seth Meyers: Lobby Baby

While "baby" is in the title here, Seth Meyers does not perform while deep into a pregnancy of his own. (Though, could you imagine?) Instead, the Late Night host steps out from behind his desk for his first hour-long special and regales us with the story of his son Axel's wild delivery in, you guessed it, the lobby of their building.

Katherine Ryan: In Trouble

Global audiences got their first taste of Canadian-born, UK-based Katherine Ryan and her wicked sense of humor in this 2017 special. Touching on white privilege, ageism and the power of celebrity, In Trouble was only the second from a UK-based act to get a special with the global reach of streaming in 190 countries. So, you know it's good.

WHERE TO STREAM: Netflix

Nanette

Over the course of one special, queer Tasmanian comic Hannah Gadsby became a global phenomenon with a set filmed at the Sydney Opera House that turned its razor-sharp wit back on comedy itself, challenging the entire institution and seemingly ending a career just as it began. What she does here is breathtaking. (And have no fear, it's not the end. She'll be back in May with new special Douglas.)

WHERE TO STREAM: Netflix

John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City

There may be no better stand-up working at the moment than John Mulaney. In this 2018 special filmed at—you guessed it—Radio City Music Hall, he proves exactly why. His "horse loose in the hospital" bit may be one of the best of the decade. No joke.

WHERE TO WATCH: Netflix

Pete Davidson: Alive From New York

After a very public breakup and subsequent mental health scares, Pete Davidson returned to the stage for his first comedy special, released earlier this year. And yes, the habitually unfiltered SNL star talks Ariana Grande

WHERE TO WATCH: Netflix

Ellen DeGeneres: Relatable

After a 15 year hiatus, Ellen DeGeneres returned to the stand-up stage for this hour-long special, released in 2018, that pokes fun at how much her life has changed in that decade and a half. It's hilarious, if not very, well, relatable.

WHERE TO WATCH: Netflix

Jerry Before Seinfeld

In this part-documentary, part-comedy special released in 2017, the legendary Jerry Seinfeld returns to The Comic Strip for an intimate set of the material that put him on the map all those years ago while giving fans of the sitcom giant a glimpse into his early years.

WHERE TO WATCH: Netflix

Ilana Glazer: The Planet Is Burning

For those missing Broad City (aka all of us), Ilana Glazer aims to topple the patriarchy in her first stand-up special, which debuted in early 2020 and featured her take on Nazis, Diva Cups and homophobes.

WHERE TO STREAM: Amazon Prime Video

Ramy Youssef: Feelings

In this 2019 special, Golden Globe winner Ramy Youssef shows off the stand-up chops that earned him his Hulu gig, sharing anecdotes from the unique perspective of his Egyptian-American upbringing.

WHERE TO STREAM: HBO Go

My Favorite Shapes by Julio Torres

You've never seen a stand-up special like this one from 2019, which finds SNL vet and Los Espookys star Julio Torres presenting his favorite shapes as they arrive on stage via an industrial conveyor belt. Each object has a very real inner life in the esoteric comic's eyes, which he uses as a jumping off point for some of the most left-of-center stories and jokes. It's not for everyone, but if you're among those who get the joke, you'll be absolutely obsessed.

Chelsea Peretti: One of the Greats

Our absolute favorite thing about this unbelievably hilarious 2014 special from Chelsea Peretti? The random cuts to dogs in the audience, reacting to her material. We love a special that makes sure you're really paying attention. The former Brooklyn Nine Nine star more than lives up to the title of the special.

WHERE TO STREAM: Netflix

Michelle Wolf: Nice Lady

Before she was absolutely eviscerating Washington as the host of the most controversial White House Correspondents' Dinner ever, Michelle Wolf was making everyone laugh in this spectacular 2017 special where she made it clear she's not a nice lady. If only the Beltway had listened.

Don't miss the One World: Together at Home special with Lady Gaga in celebration of healthcare workers at 5pm AEST on Sunday 19th only on E!