NOW STREAMING: 5 MUST-SEE, COMEDY SPECIALS ON NETFLIX
Updated: May 8
Comedy specials and cannabis have been a match made in hilarity heaven for over a half-century now. But while weed can enhance even the laziest written jokes, it can’t protect the comedian from the unspoken truth of the open mics and cackling clubs: Stand-up comedy can be a bit repetitive. Don’t get us wrong, the jokes always change, but the aesthetic and conventions stay the same. Even though it's new material from hour special to hour special, it can become quickly tedious to binge-watch multiple stand-ups (even with the help of multiple joints). This is where alternative comedy steps in to save the day for those running low on funny foder. While alternative comedy does still include some stand-up, its purpose is to push the norms and formulas of the classic step-up, punchline monotony. So if you are into absurdity and maybe a bit of uncomfortable humor, spark up and check out these hilarious gems on Netflix.
1. “Oh, Hello” On Broadway:
In late 2016, Nick Kroll (The League, Kroll Show) and John Mulaney (SNL Writer, John Mulaney: New in Town) staged a 15 week run of shows at the Lyceum Theater on Broadway. However, they did not star as themselves, but rather as two geriatric and wholly absurd roommates: Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland. What ensues over the course of the 100-minute performance is a series of revelations, beratement, misinformed beliefs, and one drawn-out “prank” on Steve Martin that takes place during the show, within the show, within the show. Irreverent and ridiculous, while still being almost completely believable as actual old New Yorkers, Kroll and Mulaney don’t need the assistance of pot to produce consistent laughs (but it doesn’t hurt).
2. Middleditch & Schwartz:
The most recent comedy entry to Netflix on this list, this series of specials features Thomas Middleditch and Ben Schwartz doing two-man long-form improv. We get it, “two-man long-form improv” sounds like the nerdiest form of comedy performance but Ben Shwartz (Jon-Raphelio from Parks and Rec) and Thomas Middleditch (Richard Hendricks from Silicon Valley) provide almost three hours of solidly masterful unscripted performances. Wait a few minutes into the first “episode” if you aren’t used to this particular style of comedy to start smoking. Once you’re comfortable with the fast-paced back and forth, your body will naturally nudge you towards a feeling of “Oh yea, I should be totally blazed for this”.
3. Zach Galifinakis: Live at the Purple Onion:
This performance is a classic. Almost anything from Galifinakis could have made this list, but his 2006 special has stood the test of time as a remarkably fantastic and crazy stroll through Galifinakis’ mind. This is pre-Hangover Galifinakis. Pre- “ It's not a purse. It's a sachel. Besides, Indiana Jones has one” Galifinakis. Zach’s slow on-stage hangover and hair-of-the-dog induced breakdown on stage is accompanied by his playing of “bed music” on the piano and interspersed with a faux interview with his “twin” Seth Galifinakis. It’s intentionally low budget and occasionally confrontational. A heady, hectic sativa compliments the agitated tone of this special. Just make sure to keep a bowl packed for whenever you get a bit uncomfortable during this unconventional but influential set.
4. Reggie Watts: Spatial
If you have never experienced a Reggie Watts performance and consider yourself a stoner, it is absolutely essential that you watch this special. It is inevitable that you will get sucked down the rabbit hole of his Ted Talks and other mind-bending sets. Watts intentionally tries to disorient you, switching between different accents and dialects. In addition to being the funniest beatboxer in the game, Reggie sets himself apart with his mad scientist presentation style. In addition to wowing the audience with Watt’s incredible musical talent, Spatial features a couplet of sketches entitled “The Crow’s Nest” co-starring Rory Scovel (Honorable mention for this list goes to Netflix’s Rory Scovel Tries Stand Up For The First Time). Needless to say these sketches echo the same chaotic tone of Watt’s stand up and provide a well rounded but somewhat exhausting hour of comedy that undoubtedly calls for the highest quality weed in your stash.
5. John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch
There are only two words to describe this comedy special: truly bizarre. Produced by A24 studios (the same production company that brought you such outre and peculiar films as Ex-Machina, The Lobster, And Swiss Army Man), this “children’s tv special” is meta and overly honest. There are ridiculous and sidesplitting songs along with celebrity cameos. But there are also random dark turns and moments that will make you wonder if these kid’s parents weren't quite aware of what they were signing them up for. It may be presented as a “kid’s show” but this is assuredly a stoner special for the ages. And let’s be honest you’ll need a decent clip of weed if you’re going to put up with this amount of children singing.