With Netflix gaining more comedy ground each year, having to offer a plethora of specials from up-and-comers to huge and beloved comedians, it's basically Netflix vs. Comedy Central, the world's two largest suppliers of stand-up right now, but with HBO still on the map and Seeso, which launched this year and decently progresses with plenty of original programming.
There was plenty of good comedy produced in 2016, fueled by all the madness that went on in the world this year and many noteworthy releases were left out. Comedy's cream of the crop, edition 2016, goes as follows...
10. Kyle Kinane: Loose In Chicago
The older Kyle Kinane gets, the more mature and eventually funnier his comedic act becomes, mainly because the main and finest subject of his stories is the real character behind the comedian. For the most part of his latest special, shot in his hometown, Chicago, the 39-year old comedian makes fun of himself but also touches on issues like gun control and homophobia. Although Loose In Chicago ranked lower in our list than his previous special, in the long run it seems like Kyle's strongest set so far, and like we've expressed it before, the man still looks like he has a bright future in stand-up.
9. Nikki Glaser: Perfect
2016 was a great year for Nikki Glaser; her comedy talk show about sex, Not Safe, on Comedy Central was a big hit and it was extended mid-season by ten episodes, she appeared on a CC roast for the first time and released her first ever special, Perfect, taped in New York just before her newfound fame became a reality. On Perfect Nikki expands on boiling issues like birth control, sexism and feminism, alongside sex and relationship stories and while her set is not flawless, it is a strong debut for the 31-year old comedian who seems like she has only just taken off.
8. Whitney Cummings: I'm Your Girlfriend
Whitney Cummings has co-created CBS' hit sitcom, 2 Broke Girls, she had her own talk show on E! for a while and created and starred on her own show, Whitney, for two seasons on NBC, shows that have earned her fame and money, despite the fact that the sharpest end of her comedy has always been stand-up. I'm Your Girlfriend is her first ever special for HBO and third in total, and as her fans would have expected it pokes on feminism, female objectification and relationships.
7. Colin Quinn: The New York Story
Directed by Jerry Seinfeld, Colin Quinn's stand-up show is exactly what its title suggest: the multicultural history of the SNL alum 's hometown, told through its stereotype characters, all perfectly acted and narrated in Quinn's delightful hour-long monologue.
6. Dana Carvey: Straight White Male, 60
At his sixtieth year Dana Carvey is still one of the brightest comedic minds around and his latest special on Netflix verifies his genius once more. On the show Dana does impressions (of course), from Trump and his uncanny Pacino to Lennon and McCartney, he makes fun of many different ethnic groups without ever sounding racist (albeit he jokes about it - even on the special's title) and goes deeper into the generation gap between the Baby Boomers and the Millenials. Carvey's extraordinary performance makes you wish Straight White Male, 60 was twice as long, even if the extra hour was strictly comprised of Carvey delivering the "bunch of fucking bullshit..." line in the style of his Millenial kids.
5. Chris Hardwick: Funcomfortable
Whether it is through one of the most popular podcasts on the internet, the network of podcasts and media that he leads, as part of comedy duo Hard 'N' Phirm, as the host of the Talking Dead talk show and the hit fake game show, @midnight, his film appearances and voice overs, or if you simply remember him from the Singled Out days on MTV, it often feels like Chris Hardwick has been around forever. On his latest stand-up special for Comedy Central, Chris comes out as fun and comfortable as its title suggest and has the posture and ease of a veteran, despite the fact that it's only his second of the kind. Chris' exposure to all those comedians through the @midnight program seems that it has been much beneficial to his own act and as a result Funcomfortable entertains and satisfies from its first minute to the last.
4. Patton Oswalt: Talking For Clapping
2016 was a bad year for everyone, but it has especially been extra shitty to one of the nicest guys and most beloved comedians out there, Patton Oswalt whose wife of eleven years and true crime author, Michelle McNamara, passed away on the same day his latest special aired on Netflix. Since then Patton has won an Emmy for it, but as anyone would expect, it didn't help much. Nerdiness, self-deprecation, fatherhood and the stirring topic that is gay marriage are some of the themes Oswalt uses to deliver his existential, hilarious comedy, executed to perfection like he always does. On top of everything Talking For Clapping is -if we're not mistaken- the only special on this list that has been released on vinyl too, so there is that.
3. Bo Burnham: Make Happy
Bo Burnham is the living proof that the internet and the social media can produce and highlight good things and real talent too. Over the course of a few years Bo has developed from a YouTube sensation to a fine performer who at age 26 has already released five excellent comedy records, the latest of which, Make Happy, is an one-man comedy/music show that makes fun of many aspects of modern life, like pop music and the currently most popular genres in America (rap and country), the privileges of being a Straight White Man and deeper existential topics that extend to life and death itself. As Bo grows up and becomes wiser, the better, the deeper and the most sophisticated his act gets, and Make Happy includes his strongest material so far.
2. Pete Davidson: SMD
Two seasons ago Pete Davidson became one of the youngest members to have joined the cast of Saturday Night Live and since then he has been upgraded to a repertoire player and also appeared on two Comedy Central Roasts, those of Justin Bieber and Rob Lowe. SNL fans may have noticed that the strongest material Pete has provided to the show so far has not been in the form of the usual sketch comedy the show offers, but mostly as himself, when he's delivering some of his stand-up routine as a news guest behind the Weekend Update desk and SMD offers plenty of that kind of comedy. The titles does not stand for the profanity the average fan would have guessed, but it's just Pete's father's initials, a hero firefighter who died on 9/11, a subject Pete jokes about a whole lot, alongside drug abuse, relationships and more, and even if he constantly looks like he'd rather be anywhere else rather than the stage, he always delivers and gets the laughs.
1. Jim Jefferies: Freedumb
Jim Jefferies' observations about gun control on his second to last special, 2014's Bare, earned him some almost abrupt notoriety that he deserved since quite a while. It was only natural that on Freedumb, his seventh special and maybe his finest yet, he would continue talking about the absurdity in politics and hot topics like Trump (the show was taped before the election) and Bill Cosby side to side with more personal subjects like relationships and being a parent. Could it be just the Australian accent that makes everything about Jefferies' act so funny or is this comedian's material purely brilliant, even though he calls his own self an illiterate? Freedumb is not a regular hour-long special. It's an hour and a half long, but with Jim being hot-handed like that, it could have just as well lasted for three hours and it would still be funny as hell and without a single dull moment.