Life has recently been an onslaught of news that makes me want to crawl under a blanket and emerge when everything has returned to a lesser chaos. But one of the best medicines, or so I’ve been told, is laughter.
So if you’re enraptured in stories of trauma, of sickness, of political inaccuracies, check out this list of 22 comedy specials that may last you long enough for this hellscape to end, just in time for National Goof Off Day on March 22.
1. Jim Gaffigan—Jim Gaffigan is by far my favorite overall comedian, but he also reigns supreme in the men’s category. I saw him live in 2017 with my dad as a Father’s Day present, which is coincidentally much of Gaffigan’s material with five kids! He also manages to be a rip-riot without being vulgar or using obscene language. His iconic skit about Hot Pockets comes from his Beyond the Pale special, but he has four other equally funny specials to choose from.
2. Patton Oswalt—Patton is another comedian I’ve had the pleasure of seeing live as a birthday present from my dad in 2019. The charm in Patton, in my opinion, comes from the artful way he crafts the human experience into jokes. He suffered a tragic loss of his wife but he finds the humility and humor in small moments that make his audience feel connected to him. You can choose from two specials—Talking for Clapping or Annihilation—to hear his jokes!
3. Seth Meyers—Many are familiar with Meyer’s work on SNL’s Weekend Update segment. But he broke into Netflix’s comedy special scene with Lobby Baby which shows a more authentic side to his life and the humorous stories within it.
4. Tom Segura—Definitely one of the raunchier comedians on the list, Segura can be seen in three specials with a fourth premiering on March 24 called Ball Hog!
5. Bert Kreischer—Kreischer is another on this list who veers toward the vulgar, but his laugh and demeanor are so contagious that you kind of earmuff it through the dirty parts and laugh it off. He also does all his stand up completely shirtless, so that’s a fun element. My personal favorite of his is Secret Time.
6. Sebastian Maniscalco—Maniscalco has such a funny set on Netflix called What’s Wrong With People?, and it is so accurate how absurd some parts of our human existence is that you can’t help but almost split a side.
7. John Mulaney—Mulaney has quite an extensive body of work on Netflix and he’s also kind of a reaction king for GIFs, especially on Twitter. What I love more than anything about Mulaney is his lilting delivery of jokes.
8. Hasan Minhaj—An impeccable mix of humor and self-awareness in wide-scale issues, Minhaj is informative and incredibly funny at once. Check out The Patriot Act8.
9. Chris Rock—Another guy with a great delivery tone, he also stands out as Marty, a lovable zebra, in Madagascar where he cracks some PG-jokes.
10. Kevin Hart—He may be little but he’s got a big repertoire of anecdotes to elicit some laughs. My personal favorite bit of his is this: Kevin Hart’s House Got Robbed. Trust me, it’s funnier than it sounds!
11. Chris D’Elia—If you’re a fan of the popular show, you might recognize this comedian’s cameo, but otherwise, his several sets on Netflix are much funnier than his character in You, season 2.
12. Billy Eichner—Known for his man-on-the-street humor, many of the laughs come from his chaotic nature mixed with the unpredictability of his interviewees. Watch here.
13. Adam Sandler—I can appreciate Sandler as a key part of comedy movies, but I was also moved to tears by his tribute to fellow comedian and friend Chris Farley, who passed away in 1997. In Adam Sandler: 100% Fresh, his humility and life are put on full display for laughs, and if you’re like me, a tear or two.
14. Tom Papa—Papa is one of the comedians I recently watched in a special called Tom Papa: You’re Doing Great! He hilariously captures areas of life we all struggle in and in fact, do not do great in. But it’s okay because we can laugh along with our similar experiences.
1. Iliza Shlesinger—Iliza has a rather iconic shtick from all of her specials… and that is her impression of all millennials to gen-z girls ends with a goat bleating. It’s hysterically hard to describe but easily viewed in one of her five specials on Netflix with her most recent being the laughs behind saying ‘I do’ in Iliza: Unveiled.
2. Leslie Jones—Leslie Jones is so flamboyantly herself; her emphatic yelling has me yelling from whatever streaming service I’m watching her on. Her first special is now on Netflix and it’s titled Leslie Jones: Time Machine!
3. Ellen DeGeneres—We know and love her for the staple she and her show has been for nearly 20 years, on top of her other comedic displays. But when I tell you this is the most I’ve laughed, cried and then subsequently laugh-cried in a comedy special, you better go watch Relatable RTFN (right the frick now)!
4. Tiffany Haddish—Haddish has one of my favorite female deliveries of jokes on this list for sure. Watch Black Mitzvah for a rip-riot on all things funny and female.
5. Fortune Feimster—Fortune Feimster is totally slept on as a comedian because it took me a long time to discover a comic this unique. She’s brash and unapologetically herself in a way that makes you want to embrace your brashness, and hey, maybe even talk about it on stage… and then have it streamed to millions. Sweet & Salty is just that and more!
6. Amy Schumer—People tend to have a love/hate relationship with Schumer as a comic, but I can embrace the raunchiness of her jokes when it’s seen as a rival to all the successful male comics who do it without anyone batting a perfectly glued-on eyelash. Favorite special of hers to watch would have to be The Leather Special.
7. Sarah Silverman—Sarah Silverman’s voice is half the reason I vibe so well with her. While some people may find it too nasally, she’s the perfect mix of self-deprecating and self-aware, which can be seen in A Speck of Dust.
8. Ali Wong—Beyond her specials, Ali Wong is so perfect in Always Be My Maybe. It’s the perfect display of her acting chops, her behind-the-scenes credentials as a writer and producer, and it’s just an all-around great rom-com with representation.
Please enjoy this spoonful of side-splitting laughter medicine—in article form— as we continue to distract ourselves with funny people who can help us forget the chaos cauldron our world is right now.