20 Funniest Comedy Specials You Can Watch Online

john mulaney


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John Mulaney
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Comedy, Special

Thanks to the power of streaming, stand-up comedy is easier than ever to watch. With all of the various streaming services really doing their part to make stand-up accessible (though let's be honest, most of them are on Netflix), you can prescribe yourself some of the best medicine any time you need. Which comedy specials should you watch, you ask? Well, start here.

Related: Which Streaming Service Gives You the Most Bang for Your Buck?

jerrod carmichael
Sarah Silverman
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Sarah Silverman, 'A Speck of Dust'

Streaming Service: Netflix

When you've been great as long as Sarah Silverman has been great, it's always sort of surprising if you're still crushing it. This Netflix venture is no exception. Silverman is just so smart and talented, and from the minute "A Speck of Dust" begins, you're hooked.

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ali wong

Ali Wong, Don Wong

Streaming Service: Netflix

In 2016, "Baby Cobra" was a groundbreaking move for representation. It remains outstanding, and in this year's "Don Wong," Ali Wong remains as sharp as ever.

Mike Birbiglia
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Mike Birbiglia, 'The New One'

Streaming Service: Netflix

Time and time again, Mike Birbiglia has blazed a trail in comedy that has outgrown the framework of traditional stand-up. He did it with "Sleepwalk With Me" and "My Girlfriend's Boyfriend," and now he's doing it again in "The New One." (If you're able to catch his current show, "The Old Man and the Pool" during its current tour, I can confirm it's terrific.) We're following Birbiglia into fatherhood now, and this is his most mature special to date.

Kumail Nanjiani
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Kumail Nanjiani, 'Beta Male'

Streaming Service: Prime Video

At this point, Kumail Nanjiani is a full-blown star, but "Beta Male" is from 2013, before Nanjiani was as big. His charm is irresistible, and this special is wonderful. Check it out to fall in love with him all over again.

bo burnam

Bo Burnham, 'Inside.'

Streaming Service: Netflix

At this point at least 10 people have told you to watch "Inside." Those 10 people aren't wrong — this special is a COVID time capsule that will probably stand as one of the best reminders of the most insane time of our lives. Everybody keeps telling you that Bo Burnham's a genius, blah, blah, blah, but the thing is ... he is. He really is.

sheng wang sweet and juicy

Sheng Wang, 'Sweet and Juicy'

Streaming Service: Netflix

A refreshing resurgence for stoney-baloney humor, Sheng Wang has the inherent likability that most comics spend their entire careers trying to perfect.

Maria Bamford
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Maria Bamford, 'Old Baby'

Streaming Service: Netflix

If you're sick of the traditional comedy special format, Maria Bamford is here to change that. Though the material connects into one cohesive show, the setting changes constantly — from Bamford outside her house, to a bowling alley, and more. 

john mulaney

John Mulaney, 'Kid Gorgeous'

Streaming Service: Netflix

Mulaney's gone through some highly publicized times lately, but that shouldn't discourage you from checking out "Kid Gorgeous," a special that you'll find yourself quoting just as long as you've been quoting the material from "New in Town."

atsuko okatsuka

Atsuko Okatsuka, 'The Intruder'

Streaming Service: HBO

You might know her from TikTok. You might know her from the now-legendary Ice House performance in the middle of an earthquake. If you don't know her, fix that; Atsuko will be a household name in no time.

Demetri Martin
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Demetri Martin, 'The Overthinker'

Streaming Service: Netflix

Not only does Martin have the gift of looking at the world in a strange way, he has the gift of bringing you into it; this man is a true comedic original.

Tom Segura
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Tom Segura, 'Ball Hog'

Streaming Service: Netflix

Does Tom Segura actually have half the conversations he claims to? Probably not, but who cares? Watching him reenact them is a treat. Something about the way he hits the subtle nuances of normal human interactions is perfect. 

Hannibal Buress
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Hannibal Buress, 'Comedy Camisado'

Streaming Service: Netflix

The stuff that Hannibal Buress is putting out is gold. He's just so lovable, and he really puts us in his shoes as he deals with his newfound fame, working out his life on the road. This is a creative breath of fresh air from one of the best comics out there.

Chris Gethard
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Chris Gethard, 'Career Suicide'

Streaming Service: HBOMax

Emotions run quite high in this special centered entirely around Gethard's once-attempted suicide. "Career Suicide" is one of the best comedy specials you'll watch this decade.

Hasan Minhaj
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Hasan Minhaj, 'The King's Jester'

Streaming Service: Netflix

"The King's Jester" is just as witty, just as funny, and just as touching as everything we've come to expect from Hasan Minhaj. He's an important, contemporary voice for the immigrant experience.

Rory Scovel
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Rory Scovel, 'Rory Scovel Tries Standup for the First Time'

Streaming Service: Netflix

Yeah, OK, Rory Scovel is not for everybody. He's weird. Like, really weird. But sometimes you need that. Despite the title, Scovel is not actually trying stand-up for the first time, and it shows. The guy is inherently hilarious, you'd be hard pressed to find something Scovel couldn't make funny (I once saw him play with a mic stand for 15 minutes, and it was one of the best sets I'd ever seen). How does he do it?

Wyatt Cenac
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Wyatt Cenac, 'Brooklyn'

Streaming Service: Netflix

You're probably thinking "not enough comedy specials feature puppet versions of the performer while they're performing." Good news for you, because that's not the case in "Brooklyn." Cenac's almost apathetic brand of humor is infectious, and the puppet cutaways are only the icing on the cake.

Anthony Jeselnik
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Anthony Jeselnik, 'Thoughts and Prayers'

Streaming Service: Netflix

There are comedians that have tried their whole lives to pull off what Anthony Jeselnik does. He's a comic that has made his name on being shocking and offensive, but he does it with sharpness that nobody can match. His jokes always have "oooooh"-inspiring punchlines, but the fun of a Jeselnik special comes in trying to figure just when it's going to hit. His setups build slowly, then smack you in the face with the punchline before you realize it. He's a master.

Aparna Nancherla
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Aparna Nancherla, 'The Standups'

Streaming Service: Netflix

OK, it's not technically her own special, but it would be wrong not to include Nancherla, and Netflix's "The Standups" is a fun showcase for a ton of greats. You may know her voice from "BoJack Horseman" or her face from "Crashing" and "Corporate," but if you don't know her comedy, you need to. She's one of the freshest, funniest talents out there (and maybe the only comic who has ever written a funny joke about emojis).

Paul F. Tompkins
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Paul F. Tompkins, 'Laboring Under Delusions'

Streaming Service: Comedy Central

There aren't many people who have a natural storytelling gift like Paul F. Tompkins. "Laboring Under Delusions" is one of the most relatable, captivating specials out there. As Tompkins traces his life of terrible jobs while pursuing stand-up comedy, we see ourselves. It's about a guy trying to figure out his life and chasing a dream, and we can all latch onto that. It's a must-watch.