2018 End Of Year Lists: Comedy Albums And Specials

For the hundredth year in a row Netflix has been the undeniable winner and dominant standup comedy provider in the world, with 7 out of 10 entries on this list coming via the popular service. From the rest, one keeps the tradition of HBO specials alive, the other is the most unorthodox of them all, it comes through Showtime, while Jim Gaffigan's latest became available simultaneously on a wide variety of streaming and on demand services.

These are D//E's favorite specials of 2018...

10. Joe Rogan – Strange Times

Popular comedian, podcaster, UFC commentator and TV host, Joe Rogan, has been responsible for a fair amount of funny specials and albums since the early 2000s. Strange Times is among the best of those, a smart commentary on politics, vegans and animals, and life in general.

09. Jim Gaffigan – Noble Ape

Several specials after his fist couple of albums which came out in 2001, Jim Gaffigan remains one of the finest clean standup comedians, and sharp on fragile topics like health and religion. Noble Ape is one of his most fascinating works that distinctly showcases the popular comedian's clever writing and entertaining delivery.

08. Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher – The Honeymoon Stand-Up Special

A special in three parts, one by each comedian and another where the newlywed couple took the stage together, The Honeymoon Stand-Up Special finds the two experienced comedians working competitively opposed to each other for the sake of comedy, but also often going in the same direction, and working the crowd to result to an overall long and very entertaining set.

07. John Mulaney – Kid Gorgeous At Radio City

Although Mulaney is now a well known and respected presence in comedy, and despite the fact that he has won an Emmy for this special, Kid Gorgeous isn't his strongest set. On both New In Town and The Comeback Kid John's writing and performance are brighter, still, Kid Gorgeous finds him a little more boastful and self assured than before, a quality that he carries nicely. It is interesting to see where it will lead him next.

06. Hari Kondabolu – Warn Your Relatives

Creator of the radical documentary, The Problem With Apu, comedian and actor, Hari Kondabolu, although not new to this craft, is a very fresh voice in contemporary standup comedy. His subjects have included serious themes like race and inequality and Warn Your Relatives sharply, yet, as one would expect, continues to dig in the political and the racial stuff, and it becomes even more engaging at those moments when the comedian embraces his observations about stereotypes and loosens up.

05. Henry Rollins – Keep Talking, Pal

Henry Rollins' status as a musician and performer is evident and legendary. In order to enjoy the man's stage presence in talking form you don't have to have the topnotch jokes. Rollins is not a stranger to this medium, since he has put out several spoken word albums and videos in his long career, and his casual demeanor is one of the greatest qualities of Keep Talking, Pal. You just have to be there and take in the intellect of a punk icon, whether you agree with his ramblings or not.

04. Demetri Martin – The Overthinker

In addition to having the most apt title of all the specials on the list, Martin's The Overthinker finds the comedian taking an unexpected, slightly more traditional approach to his quirky, many-sided act, and shows that he can deliver his writing with confidence as a much as he can be laid back; a rare trait, especially for an overthinker.

03. Pete Holmes – Dirty Clean

The existential qualities in Holmes' excellent comedy have always been neatly hidden behind his well groomed, likeable face and posture, and Dirty Clean is no exception to the fact that Pete Holmes is a master at creeping in some of the weightier stuff through a more mawkish facade. It's something analogous to the paradox of his latest special's title: clean, yet, dirty; very funny, yet, quite ponderous.

02. Jim Jefferies – This Is Me Now

Maybe due to his self-titled TV show or because of his progressive ripeness as a comedian or because of the huge notoriety his gun control bits have earned, Jim's comedy has become a little more political over the years, but not fully so. The entertaining long stories are still there, and the delivery is still eager, ironic and full of brilliance. Filmed at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, This Is Me Now finds Jefferies playing it a little more safe, but still hilarious like every time.

01. Ricky Gervais – Humanity

A longtime standup veteran who has achieved international success and universal recognition for the work he's done outside the confined world of standup comedy, at age 57 delivered one of his better shows, wittily tackling contemporary themes through his signature dark and cutting edge writing, and appearing more blunt than ever. Maturity has become a trait and a a useful tool in the hands of the artful comedian, who seems unstoppable on stage.


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