Here Are the 11 Best Standup Comedy Specials to Watch on Netflix Canada (and 5 to Avoid)

BY James KeastPublished Dec 21, 2016

Nothing prompts option anxiety like scrolling through the Netflix queue in search of inspiration, especially when it comes to the plethora of standup comedy specials available on the streaming service — we know, we're reviewing every single special on Netflix Canada. That's why we can confidently recommend these 11 standup comedy specials — and warn you which ones to avoid.

Ali Wong
Baby Cobra
Courtney Baird-Lew writes: "Ali Wong, a five-foot-nothing, Asian-American woman from San Francisco, recorded this special while seven-and-a-half months pregnant. Armed with jokes about vaginal discharge and the burden of using public bathrooms, Wong's standup is a well-timed, well-thought-out tour de force. And while her jokes do centre on the bathroom and/or bedroom jokes that we love, she does so from the perspective of a wife and soon-to-be mother."

Hannibal Buress
Animal Furnace
While Buress has several acclaimed specials available, including Comedy Camisado, Hannibal Takes Edinburgh and Live From Chicago, we chose this 2012 offering as the perfect introduction.
Daniel Sylvester writes: "On his second special, 2012's Animal Furnace, Buress makes the transformation from quirky alt-jokester to socially-aware storyteller. But when Buress talks about race relations (in a hilarious bit where he reads a review of one of his college performances that claims he brought diversity to the school), sexual politics (contemplating reporting "an unreported case of sexual assault") and racial profiling (his not-so-typical piece about going through airport security), he never sounds preachy or partisan, as he delivers these bits with the same charming likability as his inaner material, like meeting Jimmy Carter (for the former President's sake) and Odd Future's increasingly reasonable lyrics, ('Kill people, burn shit, fuck school')."

Jim Gaffigan
King Baby
Another comedy titan with several acclaimed specials to choose from — including Obsessed and Beyond the Pale — the choice fell between Mr. Universe (as Julianna Romanyk argued: "Everyone has their own McDonald's" is the best joke Gaffigan has ever done") or this one.
James Ostime writes: "Jim Gaffigan's humour is observational, but never in the hacky, 'Did you ever notice…' style common to his contemporaries. He truly wrings humour from topics as far reaching as the guy who doesn't stand still to enjoy an escalator ('This thing is free! You don't need a ticket!') to the spelling and pronunciation disconnect inherent to the word 'bologna' and the strangeness of wearing a new brand of deodorant ('Am I being followed?... By a pine tree?')."

Tony Hinchcliffe
One Shot
Blake Morneau writes: "The ability to write and deliver a strong, biting joke without coming across like a mean, hateful person is a rare thing. It separates great comedians from mediocre ones and with One Shot, Tony Hinchcliffe proves that he is, at only 30, a great comedian. Throughout his first hour special, Hinchliffe splits the difference between silly and cutting, slowly building layer upon layer in a way that allows him to go further from tasteful while keeping the audience on his side. Shot in one rich, dynamic take — no cuts or edits — One Shot is a masterful debut hour from a young, unassuming, stone-cold joke killer."

John Mulaney
New In Town
Mackenzie Herd writes: "The way he presents his position in society is like that of an adolescent that is sharp enough to understand what is taking place around him, but too removed to do anything but ridicule it. And while Mulaney is fairly young (28 at the time of filming), he commands the stage with the confidence of a seasoned veteran, armed with a quick wit and outfitted in a crisp grey suit that he admits makes him look like a tall, tired child going to his first communion."

Aziz Ansari
Buried Alive
Another prolific comic with several available specials, Ansari may be too busy with Master of None to continue his standup pace, so you should check out Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening, Dangerously Delicious, Live at Madison Square Garden or this tour de force.
Mirali Almaula writes: "Ansari has a wonderful talent for conjuring ridiculous scenarios and characters, providing just enough detail to make each situation vivid, yet effortless to follow while his act-outs run seamlessly through the narrative of each joke. Ansari's energy and boyish charm make Buried Alive's focus on kid-related jokes especially engaging, as he represents a range of characters on the spectrum from cute to shitty children."


Jim Jefferies
Vish Khanna writes: "When 2016's Freedumb was released this summer, during the U.S. presidential election, many people seized upon Jefferies' takedown of Donald Trump, and his exhortation to voters: 'Don't be the world's asshole, America,' Jefferies pleads. Those jokes and perspectives aside, the funny thing here is that Jefferies is not typically a 'political comedian.' By his own admission, he's an illiterate lout in a lot of ways, going off at the mouth like a pitbull about whatever subject matter sets foot in his yard."

Patton Oswalt
Talking For Clapping
Another legend in the making, it's hard to go wrong with any Oswalt offering, from Patton Pending and Finest Hour to My Weakness is Strong and this acclaimed, recent effort.
Vish Khanna writes: "Talking for Clapping finds one of the smartest, most discerning comedians of our time in something of a transitional phase, as his penchant for jolly rage and absurdism is measured by his role as a father who, almost by necessity, must view a problematic, painful planet with as much optimism as he can muster."

Gary Gulman
It's About Time
Vish Khanna writes: "Smart, self-assured, and clearly in command of both his material and the moment, Gary Gulman's slow-build riffs on everything from phones to rude shopping-cart etiquette are funny and insightful. His tangents lead to sharp fare, such as the fact that anti-Obamacare advocates often portray the President with a Hitler moustache even though it wasn't really his stance on socialized medicine that made der Führer so darn vexing."

Chelsea Peretti
One of the Greats
Vish Khanna writes: "Likely best known for her role on sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Peretti has appeared on and/or written for virtually every major comedy show in the last decade, and her surreal observational fare is a custom job. She stages this special to address some of the laziness in standup, either directly via the deconstruction of how male comics tend to talk about sex with women on stage, and by the very macho introduction to the special, where she portrays herself as some kind of comedy action star, riding a hog across town to tape this special."

Bill Hicks
Sane Man
Daniel Sylvester writes: "Opening with a voice-over speech — on top of footage of Hicks traveling from city to city on his Flying Saucer Tour — about how he would hijack a plane just to get his destination on time, gives the viewer a glimpse into just how subversive and fearless Hicks comedy was, even from the beginning. Although he starts off with a bit of obvious humour on how he once saw someone selling dirt in Tennessee, he incorporates it into a larger narrative about his perceived notion that American Southerners are almost exclusively hillbillies, giving a hilarious impression of a waitress asking him 'What are you reading for?'"

Five Comedy Specials to Avoid

Rob Schneider
Soy Sauce and the Holocaust
Mirali Almaula writes: "Soy Sauce and the Holocaust doesn't push as many boundaries as you might expect from the title. The comedian focuses on a lot of common topics like aging, dogs' thoughts, boarding order for flights, commercials, the side effects of drugs, and (most of all) the differences between men and women. If you feel like I'm giving it away, I'm not. The jokes go exactly where you'd assume."

Theo Von
No Offense
Blake Morneau writes: "Three-quarters of the way through No Offense, after a marginally funny joke about miscarriage gets the requisite moan and gasp from the crowd, Theo Von remarks to his audience, 'They're just jokes, people. They can't all be funny.' Therein lies the biggest problem with No Offense: semi-shocking statements and language are given equal footing with well-constructed jokes. This is the equivalent of spending an hour listening to that uncle we all try to ignore who says things like, 'I'm not [blank] but…'"

Jay Mohr
Funny For a Girl
Alan Ranta writes: "Netflix describes the special, touted as his first in over seven years, as 'a set of wild Hollywood stories, plus impressions of Christopher Walken, Adam Sandler and more.' Sure, the impressions are there, which you would hope for considering that's largely what his comedy is known for, but there are no wild Hollywood stories. Mohr married a nice woman, hit his 40s and had a couple of kids — that's primarily what this hour of tedium is all about."

Chelsea Handler
Uganda Be Kidding Me
Mirali Almaula writes: "Chelsea Handler's Uganda Be Kidding Me: Live sets up expectations it doesn't satisfyingly deliver on. The first is that Handler will be hilarious as a standup comedian because she is a very funny comedic actor and talk show host. While she checks all of the boxes, her articulate delivery and sardonic persona seem better suited for other media. When on the stage for over an hour, her tone gives off a disinterest that makes it difficult to stay engaged."

Rodney Carrington
Laughter's Good
James Ostime writes: "With a career spanning more than 20 years, Rodney Carrington has the polish of a comic who knows where his laughs are and his smooth, confident delivery helps sell every punch line, but his tired subject matter occasionally falls back on stereotype and cheap laughs. Jokes about family and going to church have potential to be anecdotally amusing, but are undercut by premises like the awkwardness of dealing with filthy prostitutes, nervously spotting an Islamic person in a shopping mall, and how 'You can't slap your wife at the Walgreens!'"

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