5 Stand-Up Specials on Netflix That Hilariously Talk About Real Issues

1. Ali Wong: Hard Knock Wife

Riding on the tails of her breakout 2016 special Baby Cobra, comedian Ali Wong is back with more witty, often crude and all too relatable commentary about balancing career and motherhood. Hard Knock Wife brings forward an Ali with new ideas on life. Previously, she joked about how her dream was to be a “stay at home mom,” but now, after giving birth to her first child, she’s made a 180 and realizes the unknown pleasure of being the breadwinner for her family. Wong has a special knack for physical humour and doesn’t shy away from the more taboo aspects of pregnancy, focussing on the uncomfortable transformations her body has gone through. She takes multiple tangents during her set to call for the implementation of paid maternity leave in the States, citing the undiscussed grossness and daily struggle of motherhood. Ali Wong defies stereotypes by showing female, Asian comedians can be just as gross and crass as the boys, but always balances it with content that matters.

2. Marc Maron - Too Real

Marc Maron’s Too Real is a sharp take on “The Trump Era,” consumer culture and general ponderings of growing old. Despite spending most of his show slouching on a stool, Maron delivers high-energy, hilarious stories and biting cultural commentary that’ll make any cynic feel a little less alone in their discontent. A perfect example of Maron’s characteristic comedy is a moment when he reads from a sticky-note that says, “my comfort zone is uncomfortable.” Maron’s stand-up can become somewhat of an addiction, but once you get hooked by Too Real, don’t worry, he also has an amazing podcast “WTF,” where he interviews fellow comedians as well as musicians and actors and delivers off-the-cuff monologues about all topics of life.

3. Hannah Gadsby - Nanette

Nanette, the comedy special that Slate Magazine calls a “stand-up tragedy,” is the show to launch the Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby into the mainstream. Through the first half of the special, Hannah humorously discusses a whole array of topics including how she grew up in a very homophobic area, but now is viewed as not lesbian enough by fans. She really can’t win. She makes fun of the homophobia of her past and how people are hilariously confused by her gender. She’s a master of tension and the sweet release of a perfectly landed joke. However, in the tail end of the show, this all changes. The tension builds to a boiling point and she breaks into a perfectly pointed rant on the corruptions of power, the entitlement of men in society, and her internalized hatred stemming from those things. Her biting critique of the powers that be is a cathartic watch for everyone who feels marginalized and unheard.

4. Daniel Sloss - Live Shows

Daniel Sloss, while not as big of a name as others on this list, deserves much more recognition than he gets. On Netflix, he currently has two hour-long shows held within Live Shows, “Dark” and “Jigsaw.” Once you watch “Dark,” you’ll be hooked on his crass, bold style and need to watch “Jigsaw.” Sloss has a knack for being able to make intelligent humour about almost any situation. He can go from talking about bad hookups to his sister with disabilities, or dad jokes to ending a relationship with ease. All the while, Daniel is bringing these touchy, off-colour topics into the light, showing that there is a way to laugh with and through the pain, not at it.

5. Neal Brennan - 3 Mics

Neal Brennan’s 3 Mics is a creative reshaping of the stand-up comedy form. At the start of the show, the lights fade up and you see Brennan standing at one of three microphones as he starts to tell one-liners. Throughout the show, he travels between the different microphones, each one representing a different performance form: story-based classical stand-up, one-liners and serious confessional monologue. The one-liners and traditional stand-up sets are both quite funny, but the real peaks of the show are in the discussions of Brennan’s struggle with depression and abuse. He talks candidly about the stigma that surrounds mental illness and his long journey of trying to heal through medication, exercise and many other routes. 3 Mics is the perfect special to watch for anyone who struggles with depression and wants someone they can both laugh and cry with.


Maron Podcast: http://www.wtfpod.com/

Slate on Nanette https://slate.com/culture/2018/07/hannah-gadsbys-netflix-special-nanette-is-powerful-anti-comedy.html


Edited by: Amanda Cloutier-Santos