There’s a galaxy of stand-up content to be explored on Netflix. Don’t know where to begin? We pick out eight comedy specials that will leave you guffawing.
Aziz Ansari: ‘Right Now’
“Scared”, “humiliated”, “embarrassed”. Ansari uses these words to sum up how he felt in the wake of the infamous #MeToo allegations against him. “We’re all sh*tty people”, he declares, but believes that everyone, including himself, wants to be a better person. But this performance isn’t only about being remorseful and self-reflective. It’s also an attempt to expose the hypocrisy of modern culture, and he does a pretty good job of it with his “swastika on pizza” story and his rant on insufferable woke millennials.
Daniel Sloss: Live Shows
The 28-year old Scotsman is one of the youngest comedians to be featured on Netflix. This special comprises two of his shows, Dark and Jigsaw, in which Sloss gives you an insight into the dark abyss that is his mind. His head may be filled with evil (expect cruel baby jokes), but what will surprise is that you will find yourself relating to some of his thoughts. His take on love is rather gloom-ridden but thought-provoking. His theory that Facebook vegans are detrimental to veganism has its merits. But what Sloss does best is managing to see humour in the darkest, most tragic of situations and incidents.
Gabriel Iglesias: ‘I’m Sorry For What I Said When I Was Hungry’
Gabriel ‘Fluffy’ Iglesias, the Hawaiian shirt-wearing and chocolate cake-loving comedian, jokes about all-female taco trucks, his experiences with his fans and the difference between his life on stage and at home. He may get applause and cheers on stage, but at home he’s no celebrity, just an ordinary husband and father. His son Frankie has been a part of his gags for long, but this time he brings in Frankie’s friends. He also weaves into his set Tombutu, a fictional exchange student hailing from a country with restricted resources.
Hannah Gadsby: ‘Nanette’
“I have built a career out of self-deprecating humour and I don’t want to do that anymore. Because do you understand what self-deprecation means when it comes from somebody who already exists in the margins? It’s not humility. It’s humiliation.” Hannah Gadsby reduces you to tears, not just of laughter but also sorrow as she flips the narrative on how women and queer people like her get treated. She does this by seguing from a series of punchlines into a story of serious abuse, which has no happy ending. She gets the audience to empathise with her and people like her who have often been treated as an afterthought or worse by society. One of the most ingenious aspects of the show is how Gadsby lobs no-holds-barred humour at the audience while journeying through painful and traumatic material.
Hasan Minhaj: ‘Homecoming King’
Hasan Minhaj grew up in Davis, California “with a bunch of Ryan Lochtes”, and returns to his hometown for this comedy special. He narrates his life story, commencing with his parents’ marriage in Aligarh, India and ending with him working with Jon Stewart. The journey will bring tons of laughter and a few moments of anguish as he explains how immigrants love secrets and why he believes that he is the cure for racism. He strikes a chord with every Indian when he talks about a dilemma that every one of us has faced at some point in our lives: “log kya kahenge?”
Sarah Silverman: ‘A Speck Of Dust’
In her first show after a severe health scare, Sarah Silverman does exactly what she has set out to do, sneak up on you with the edgiest of jokes and make you uncomfortable. Her brand of humour is uninhibited, raunchy and at times, gross. She doesn’t bat an eyelid while telling you embarrassing stories about her sisters, and explains why she isn’t suited for crazy talk during coitus. But it is her bit on why she finds squirrels fascinating that is the stand-out moment of the show.
Vir Das: ‘Abroad Understanding’
India’s biggest comedy star has a show in New York City, and he is determined “to show them that Indian comedy is more than just head-bobble jokes and funny accents”. This special is unique as it has been shot across his shows in Delhi and NYC. Das tackles a variety of topics. He gets candid about his break-up that took place over Skype, has ideas to help improve religious tolerance in the world and elaborates on why it would be a terrible idea to hijack an Air India flight. He even sympathises with Americans, saying that Donald Trump is their version of an arranged marriage. He was picked by their parents, not them.
Wanda Sykes: ‘Not Normal’
Wanda Sykes knows that she is smarter than her president, and has no qualms in expressing how she feels about him. But there’s more to this show than just Trump-bashing. She digs into her life and shares stories that are hilarious and heart-warming at the same time. One of them is about the time her French spouse and children were terrified of Vicks Vaporub. She tells us about the ordeals of growing older, facing menopause and being married to a woman who is younger, white and French. She also talks about racism, about the importance of understanding and embracing the differences between black and white people. “We are different but equal” is the message she leaves us with.