I have to be honest, here. I’ve been watching stand-up since I was about three or four; I got my first taste when my grandfather would perch me on his knee and we’d check out Johnny Carson late at night when I couldn’t sleep. I was right there when one of the first female comedians I recall, Roseanne Barr, made her appearance on the late-night talk show and killed it, being invited to sit on the couch beside everyone’s most beloved host. Since that moment, I adored the idea of modern-day jesters making people laugh at either their own misery or perhaps their observations of the world.
Now, as an adult, I have a pretty clear take on comedy and I’ve left out a lot of that old school judgment because, after all, it’s just about being funny, you know? A lot of purists will bring up Lenny Bruce, Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, and George Carlin as the greats and say there is no room left for any comedy other than theirs, but I disagree! Who are we to say what another person will find funny? I enjoy pretty much 90 percent of the comedy out there unless it is purely meant to shock and has no actual reflection of the comic whatsoever. (Note: Comedians like Daniel Tosh, Jeff Ross, Lisa Lampaneilli, and Jim Norton just don’t amuse me.)
So, there are the ones I enjoy and I could go on for days with the George Carlin stand-up sets, Louis C.K., Lewis Black, Eddie Murphy, and Richard Pryor — but you guys know about those. Do you know of these fellas, though?
1. Ralphie May: Austin-tatious — Admittedly, I knew nothing about this guy until accidentally clicking the image on Netflix and being sent to watch the show. Ralphie expresses a refreshing amount of soft, open-minded playfulness about being married, drug regulations, and gay rights and yet never comes off as preachy. He’s one of the last feel good comics to come out that you can tell could change the world if he wanted to. If you’re ever feeling kind of down, queue this up and there’s no way you can’t possibly agree with even a fraction of the good times that come out of this man’s mouth.
2. Bill Burr: Why Do I Do This? — Fans of comedy already know about Burr, but you’d be surprised how often I hear of people who haven’t and that’s a damned shame. Sure, his fuse is about 15 miles too short and you can see his veins crackle when he gets intense; his trademark voice and frustrated laugh are absolutely amazing to witness. Talking about everything from the love he has for his dog to his inability to relate to his girlfriend, it’s standard fare, but done in a way that only Burr can muster. I point everyone to this one after a particularly rough day. After all, let the comedians say what you can’t, right? That’s the point of ’em. Relate!
3. Arj Barker: LYAO — Most of you may recognize Arj Barker from Flight of the Conchords, the amazing New Zealand musical comedy duo that had their own HBO series. Arj is a complete 180 from his character and proves it with his innocent and endearing brand of observational comedy. Explaining a meeting among the planets and Pluto’s banishment to the outside of the galaxy strikes true and hilarious. While I know a lot of folks who can’t share stand-up with their kids, I easily sat my teenage siblings down for this one and had no worries.
4. Patrice O’Neal: Elephant in the Room — It’s too bad that Patrice O’Neal didn’t find the following he deserved during his short lifetime. He sadly passed away last November due to a stroke, however, it pushed people to share their favorite specials, clips, and bits of Patrice’s performances and it opened up an entire audience to his genius. Fun, lovable, and extremely vocal with his audience, he engaged everyone he could. I won’t even tell you what Patrice gets on about; just watch it for yourself and share it with everyone.
5. Kevin Hart: I’m A Grown Little Man — While he’s definitely new to the scene in comparison to the comedians we know and love already, he’s putting a voice out there that relates to the hip-hop culture and even those who can’t necessarily follow. He seemingly puts a face to the kind of comedy that reflects on stereotypes but then crushes them with his raceless exploits. You can’t help but cheer him on and want to pat him on the head. This, like Arj Barker, is another feel good special you can feel safe enough to share with the grown kids.
So what stand-up on Netflix do you enjoy? What do you think Netflix should add more of and what kind of comedy do you think needs to make an appearance on the popular instant-viewing site?