Do you like to laugh? What a silly question, of course you like to laugh. You’re a modern day human surrounded by a constant, never ending series of depressing events known as life. You’re not a robot. Are you a robot? I’m not sure if I should try and appeal to you, we’re still trying to figure out our demographic.
My mother has always said, “When life kicks you square in the fucking teeth, you can either laugh or cry.” Yes, she really said that. Direct quote. Most people choose to laugh simply because if you choose to cry, the amount of tissues you’d have to use due to your depressing life would eventually be the cause of your downfall. Suddenly, words like “chronic” and “masturbator” get thrown around when people describe you. Friends and family won’t look you in the eyes anymore and everything you touch is either immediately sanitized or burned. And then where are you? Right back to sobbing. It’s a vicious cycle and you’re the only one to blame, you big lady’s blouse. Maybe choose laughter next time. And would you look at that, I just happen to have some good standup comedy specials on Netflix for you to watch. Lucky you.
Jeff Foxworthy & Larry the Cable Guy: We’ve Been Thinking
Let’s stop here for a moment, as I’ve probably lost most of you after reading the title of this entry. I know I said good comedy specials. But comedy is subjective and has many different meanings to many different people. I wanted this list to be inclusive for everyone. Just because you or I don’t find something particularly funny, doesn’t mean someone else can’t enjoy it. Grandparents and people who are the personification of a sweaty, camouflaged baseball cap deserve to laugh too.
Netflix’s algorithm told me I would hate this special. But I don’t hate it necessarily; it’s just not my style. A lot of people who find themselves fans of comedy started out listening to some of the best standups. Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Steve Allen, Jonathan Winters, Lenny Bruce and Bill Hicks are just a smattering of the few that get name dropped in a conversation between comedy lovers. More than anything it’s to show that you have some appreciative credibility when it comes to a discussion. But not me. I didn’t get to listen to any of those guys until much, much later. My love of comedy and making people laugh started with Jeff Foxworthy.
Growing up in the Midwest, you could either bide your time by making fun of the Amish or getting lost in cornfields. Needless to say with that admission, my finger was far from the pulse of modern comedy. What we did have though was an almost mythical love of catchphrases. I guess. That’s the easiest explanation I have for both Jeff Foxworthy’s and Larry The Cable Guy’s fame. It’s safe and it’s easy to join in on the fun. Although my comedic sensibilities have evolved since I first listened to this style, if you’re a fan of tired joke premises like being a sue happy nation, global warming, trophies for everybody and black women talking during a movie, then you’ll love this comedy special. Just please don’t make me watch it again.
Ali Wong: Baby Cobra
Great news guys! Women are funny now. Never before, in the entire history of entertainment, have vaginas ever been more hilarious. Except, ya know, they have been for a while now. I’m not sure where this perception came from other than the fact that standup (like most institutions in the world) is a boy’s club. But let’s get one thing straight, no matter what gender, race or religion you are or choose to be, we all have it within ourselves to be awful and terrible people. And no one exemplifies that more than Ali Wong.
Whether it’s riffing on the intricate forms of Southeastern Asian racism, the cons of feminism or fucking homeless guys, Ali Wong kills it. As she flows through her material, she does a lot of callbacks to previous jokes, seemingly intertwining bits and punchlines that culminate in making her entire special a setup for one big punchline. That’s damn good writing. Oh and she does her entire hour with a person growing inside of her. Apart from Ralphie May, who else can claim that?
Colin Quinn: Unconstitutional
Like most people who talk fervently about politics, I don’t understand it. The clearest grasp I have on the subject is you have the right to hate what anyone else enjoys. Or you don’t. That, plus freedom, taxes and putting dead president’s disembodied heads on everything. But, then again, I am a buffoon. If you’re like me in that aspect, go watch this special wherein Colin Quinn breaks down not just the history of the Constitution, but the people who wrote it as well as the effects it’s had on our nation since its inception.
Aside from the bar culture that our government was seemingly founded upon; he also touches on our most beloved/revered/hated amendment, the first. Many people have many opinions about where our culture is going. Are we not being progressive enough? Are we being too politically correct? Should we all just shut the fuck up for a second? No matter what side of it you’re on, Quinn brings up an excellent point:
To summarize, if you weren’t able to watch the video (and therefore weren’t able to enjoy the freedom of watching a video some guy recorded off his TV, you communist), the very fact that we’ve progressed to a point where we’re offended by language means at least one of our amendments is working as intended. Congrats everybody! Only 26 more to go!
Dave Attell: Road Work/Doug Stanhope: Beerhall Putsch
I tried to include something for everyone in this suggestion box of a review, but honestly, fuck y’all. These last two specials are the types of sets you have to sit down and watch with fellow comedyphiles (please, let’s change that word) because they appreciate the writing and delivery of a good comic. Plus, it gets tiring screaming at normal people to stop talking over the fucking punchline.
I’ve always had an affinity for Dave Attell ever since I watched Insomniac for the first time. His standup is so quick fire and idiomatically abrasive, it’s hard not to fall in love. It’s only 40 minutes, but Road Work really shows the true nature of what it is to be a standup, being on the road and going from town to town to make strangers laugh. But if you’re a true fan of the road comic, then the only special I will always recommend is Doug Stanhope’s Beerhall Putsch.
The first line of the special starts out with Doug’s trademark, world weary, booze soaked, burned-esophagus voice saying:
“Some people say ‘Yeah I don’t drink to have a good time’ yeah ok, but that means you have to have a good time to have a good time.”
The caustic wit that effortlessly spews from Stanhope’s mouth about society when he’s on stage is awe inspiring. From bits ranging about the integrity of professional football/breast cancer to assisting in his mother’s suicide, I honestly can’t think of a better comedy special on Netflix. Doug Stanhope is easily one of my favorite comics working today and it’s mainly because I am a deviant, sick individual. If you’re a fan of dark/black-as-the-night comedy, this is the end all be all.
Do you have any particular comedy specials that I didn’t mention? Yeah? Well no shit, there’s a lot of them. Let me know I did you wrong and fill that sloppy box with your hot com(ments) below.