15 Best Stand-Up Comedy Specials Of All-Time

15 Best Stand-Up Comedy Specials Of All-Time

Comedy has been here for a long time. We’ve been trying to make each other laugh for ages, from the early days of Greek theater to sketch comedy on Vine – although some of us are better at it than others. What’s nice about humor is how subjective it is. The world’s most popular comedian may be an incredibly unfunny individual to you, and so on. Because everyone sees jokes & boundaries in distinct ways, humor is a vast and multifaceted field.

A comedian might take a while to truly develop their skill and build themselves a niche in the industry. From the amateurs attempting to make it in the local comedy club to the huge names packing out arenas, quite a bit of hard work is involved. If you like comedy, you’ve seen a few live performances or watched a few standup specials. Plenty of best stand up comedians out there – almost too many to pick from. So, if you want to enjoy an evening laughing, why watch one of our 15 best stand-up comedy specials? You will not be sorry!

15 Top Stand Up Comedy Specials

  1. Dave Chappelle: Killin’ Them Softly (2000)
  2. George Carlin: You Are All Diseased (1999)
  3. John Mulaney: New in Town (2012)
  4. Eddie Izzard: Dress to Kill (1999)
  5. Bo Burnham: What. (2013)
  6. Robin Williams: A Night at The Met (1986) 
  7. Mo’Nique: My Name Is Mo’Nique (2023)
  8. Louis CK: Shameless (2007) 
  9. James Acaster: Repertoire (2018)
  10. Bill Burr: You People Are All the Same (2012)
  11. Chris Rock: Bring the Pain (1996) 
  12. Patrice O’Neal: Elephant in the Room (2011) 
  13. Jim Jefferies: Bare (2014) 
  14. Eddie Murphy: Raw (1987)
  15. Kevin Hart: Seriously Funny (2010)

1. Dave Chappelle: Killin’ Them Softly (2000) – 8.7/10 · IMDb Rating

Dave Chappelle: Killin’ Them Softly (2000) – 8.7/10 · IMDb Rating

Dave Chappelle is among the funniest comedians of all time. He first became prominent in the 90s thanks to his Comedy Central show “Chappelle’s Show.” Still, his 2000 standup special “Killin’ Them Softly” sealed his reputation as a comic genius.

From police brutality to race relations, this show is filled with funny insights into the human condition. Apparently, Sesame Street is not immune to his witty critique. In this hour-long act, Chappelle’s distinct brand of humor is on full display, proving him to be one of the best in the game.

If you like Dave Chappelle, you should watch his later specials, “For What It’s Worth” (IMDb 8.5) in 2004 and “The Age of Spin” in 2017. They’re both worth a look!

2. George Carlin: You Are All Diseased (1999) – 8.5/10 · IMDb Rating

George Carlin: You Are All Diseased (1999) – 8.5/10 · IMDb Rating

George Carlin is among the world’s most recognized comedians, and his 1999 special “You Are All Diseased” is the best stand up comedy special from him. This hour-long act is packed with Carlin’s usual wit and humor, and it will leave you in stitches. His memorable facial expressions are a creative form that distinguishes him from the average standup comedian.

You Are All Diseased is another venomous Carlin special in which he targets Cigars, the House of Blues, male stuff, Harley-Davidson, religion, and business. He is dissatisfied with the atrocities of advertising. He allegedly developed this piece to manipulate and mobilize the populace.

Airport security, religion, men’s names, and all things taboo are among the themes explored in this show. Carlin is unafraid to criticize society and executes his gags with razor-sharp precision. If you want a no-holds-barred standup special, “You Are All Diseased” is the show for you.

His “It’s Bad for Ya” in 2008 (IMDb 8.5) is also a must-see for George Carlin fans, with its unusual stage layout. With a single joke, he reminds the audience that daily life is “all bullshit, and it’s bad for you.”

3. John Mulaney: New in Town (2012) – 8.2/10 · IMDb Rating

John Mulaney: New in Town (2012) - 8.2/10 · IMDb Rating

John Mulaney and his timid, boyish appearance and personality — frequently the focus of his jokes — are always a hit. New in Town, which premiered on Netflix in 2012, explores themes such as living in New York City, past murder cases, his childhood, and growing older. It’s humorous, relatable, and chock-full of one-liners. It’s one of the rare specials you can see repeatedly and still chuckle. Mulaney’s other Netflix specials include The Comeback Kid and Kid Gorgeous at Radio City.

Both are amusing, but New in Town is the clear winner. It’s laugh-out-loud funny for the entire hour, and it’s one of those specials that leaves viewers wanting more when it’s over, not because it’s missing something, but simply because it’s that fantastic.

4. Eddie Izzard: Dress to Kill (1999) – 8.6/10 · IMDb Rating

Eddie Izzard: Dress to Kill (1999) – 8.6/10 · IMDb Rating

Eddie Izzard is most recognized for his bizarre, stream-of-consciousness style of humor. His 1999 unique “Dress to Kill,” which was taped in San Francisco, is an excellent example of this type of humor.

Izzard discusses everything from British history to what happens after death in it. He executes punchlines with impeccable timing, and his sense of humor is guaranteed to make anyone laugh. Throughout the performance, Izzard managed to retell British history right from Stonehenge all the way to the Reformation. 

She also mimicked French and Italian accents, then talked about the pope and the Church Of England. Izzard also addressed the struggles of a transgender person and how it put an end to the dream of joining the military. Dress to Kill received two separate Emmy Awards for outstanding performance and writing in 1999.

It’s also worth watching Izzard’s 1997 special “Glorious” (IMDb 8.4). It’s not as well-known as “Dress to Kill,” but just as amusing.

5. Bo Burnham: What. (2013) – 8.3/10 · IMDb Rating

Bo Burnham: What. (2013) – 8.3/10 · IMDb Rating

In Words, Words, Words to his most recent creations, Bo Burnham is a remarkable talent. Burnham has created a diverse body of work, every single one of which is original and fascinating. What. is his 2013 special, and it includes just a bit of everything – in true Burnham form. 

The musical comedy, miming, props, observational humor, and general meta-comedy make you laugh and ponder. What. It is quite unfocused — which could be intentional — yet despite the lack of a strong throughline, it generates laughs. In some ways, What. and Burnham’s 2016 special Make Happy were stepping stones that allowed him to develop and adapt throughout the years, eventually leading to the creation of something as profound and creative as Inside in 2021.

6. Robin Williams: A Night at The Met (1986) – 8.3/10 · IMDb Rating

Robin Williams: A Night at The Met (1986) – 8.3/10 · IMDb Rating

Robin Williams’ third popular comedy album, A Night at The Met, was published in 1986 and featured skits from his live performance at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House. A Night at The Met was one of Williams’ final major stage performances in the 1980s, as he began to shift his concentration more toward acting.

Williams was recognized for his quick wit, voice work, and boundless enthusiasm. Throughout the special, he uses the entire stage and uses dramatic hand gestures as well as facial expressions to express emotion and energy to a level where you are unable to turn your attention away from him. A Night at the Met features skits about drugs, drinking, parenthood, and current international events. 

You may listen to the CD and still appreciate it and laugh a few times, but watching a Williams special is a much better experience because the way he captivated a room was unlike anything else.

7. Mo’Nique: My Name Is Mo’Nique (2023) – 5.3/10 · IMDb Rating

Mo'Nique: My Name Is Mo'Nique (2023) – 5.3/10 · IMDb Rating

Mo’Nique’s Netflix special is a humorous, bracing, discontented, and intricate celebration of her power and joy and how she came to this place in her career five years after accusing Netflix of wanting to pay her much less than comedians who were her peers. It’s an indictment of the numerous systems that have stacked the deck against her — among them are stories of her time as a special-ed student, the bigotry she’s faced throughout her life, and how hard she’s pushed to get where she is. However, the program demonstrates Mo’Nique’s ability to fix that lens on her.

Her best jokes come from multiple angles at once, blending her self-assurance with how she believes herself to be perceived from the outside. The show’s back half, which centers on Mo’Nique’s marriage, is where she shines, recounting the same narrative from several perspectives and creating fresh, delightful, and unexpected joke beats each time.

8. Louis CK: Shameless (2007) – 8.5/10 · IMDb Rating

Louis CK: Shameless (2007) – 8.5/10 · IMDb Rating

Louis CK is one of today’s most prominent comedians. His HBO program “Shameless” from 2007 is a must-see for anybody who wants a good chuckle. CK discusses a broad spectrum of themes in it, from parenthood to religion.

It takes a ton of courage to confess that your daughter is nasty and that your spouse is bad in bed, yet Louis CK does it without blinking in Shameless. His statements reveal that he isn’t satisfied with his life around the time; nevertheless, he turns all his unhappiness into comic gold.

Some may find it difficult to criticize loved ones, but CK’s well-crafted humor assists in mitigating any shock. Nothing is also a forgery. Even though funniest stand up comedians sometimes make things up to get more laughs, Louis CK is primarily about harsh candor here, to the point that he and his wife split a year after the show aired.

The 2010 special “Hilarious” by Louis C.K. is also worth watching. It’s not as well-known as “Shameless,” but just as amusing. If you like Louis CK, you should watch his other specials, such as “Live at the Beacon Theater-2011 and Oh My God-2013. Make sure to keep an eye on them as well.

9. James Acaster: Repertoire (2018) – 8.4/10 · IMDb Rating

James Acaster: Repertoire (2018) – 8.4/10 · IMDb Rating

What rock have you been living under if you have not heard of James Acaster? From humble beginnings, the eccentric comic has amassed a large fan base through panel show appearances, a spot on the Great British Bake Off, and most recently, his program, Hypothetical. 

This electrifying special of tremendous stupidity comprises four live standup performances set in the same universe that follows a similar running narrative, which comes together to create this standup mini-series.

The first ‘Recognise’ revolves around Acaster as an undercover detective who has infiltrated a gang supplying drugs to stand up comedians by taking the identity of the comedian named James Acaster (the program proceeds with the ridiculousness you’d expect from that premise). In ‘Represent,’ we learn of James’ experience serving on a jury for a double murder case, during which he becomes unduly concerned with the other jurors rather than the subject at hand. 

‘Reset,’ in which James prepares to enter the witness protection program after masterminding a cunning ruse to throw the drug group behind the jail. Finally, ‘Recap’ chronicles James’ period in Witness Protection, where he works as a lollipop man in Loughborough.

10. Bill Burr: You People Are All the Same (2012) – 8.2/10 · IMDb Rating

Bill Burr: You People Are All the Same (2012) – 8.2/10 · IMDb Rating

If you like standup comedy, you would have undoubtedly heard of one of the best white comedians male, Bill Burr. He’s a comedy genius recognized for his no-holds-barred observations on the human condition. “You People Are All the Same,” his 2012 special, is a fantastic illustration of this brand of humor.

Burr addresses a wide range of issues, from cosmetic surgery to reality television. This Netflix special is a must-see only for his skit on Arnold Schwarzenegger as well as gold diggers. He throws his one-liners with impeccable timing, and his sense of humor is guaranteed to make you chuckle. If you’re looking for a funny standup special, “You People Are All the Same” is a must-see.

Burr’s 2010 special “Let It Go” is also recommended. If you like Burr, you should see his other specials, such as I’m Sorry You Feel That Way-2014 and Walk Your Way Out-2017. They’re all worth a look!

11. Chris Rock: Bring the Pain (1996) – 8.2/10 · IMDb Rating

Chris Rock: Bring the Pain (1996) – 8.2/10 · IMDb Rating

Chris Rock is a standup comedian best known for his standup specials. “Bring the Pain,” his most successful and well-known comedy spectacular that earned him a household star, was released in 1996. Chris Rock’s HBO special is recognized for its no-holds-barred approach to humor, as he discusses a number of issues, including relationships, race relations, and more.

While some may consider Chris Rock’s comedy to be crass, there is no disputing that he is a comedic genius who understands how to tell a joke with impeccable timing. If you’re hunting for a standup comedy special that will have you laughing from the beginning till the end, “Bring the Pain” is a must-see.

If you enjoy Rock’s humorous approach, you should also check out his other stand-up comedy specials, such as Bigger & Blacker-1999, Never Scared-2004, and Kill the Messenger-2008.

12. Patrice O’Neal: Elephant in the Room (2011) – 8./10 · IMDb Rating

Patrice O'Neal: Elephant in the Room (2011) – 8./10 · IMDb Rating

Patrice O’Neal’s “Elephant in the Room” is a no-holds-barred standup comedy spectacular. With razor-sharp wit and unflinching honesty, O’Neal bravely confronts contentious issues such as race, harassment, animal cruelty, as well as relationships.

His rich delivery and biting jokes hit the audience like sharp jabs, leaving them smiling and thinking about his jokes. Patrice’s natural theatrical presence allowed him to communicate with an audience. His standup routine, which was tragically his final comedy Central special, exemplifies it perfectly.

While certain aspects of his work may offend some people, there’s no disputing that O’Neal is an expert in his art. “Elephant in the Room” is a must-see for every standup comedy enthusiast.

13. Jim Jefferies: Bare (2014) – 8/10 · IMDb Rating

Jim Jefferies: Bare (2014) – 8/10 · IMDb Rating

Jim Jefferies addresses a wide range of sensitive themes in his standup special “Bare,” from the regulation of guns to religion. While his honest and frequently vulgar approach may not be for everyone, there’s no doubt that Jefferies is a daring comedian who isn’t hesitant to push boundaries.

In one of the Netflix special’s outstanding routines, Jefferies addresses the topic of abortion, delivering a persuasive case for a woman’s right to choose. He also addresses racism, rape culture, and other contentious themes, always aiming to elicit amusement and reflection.

Whether you like or dislike him, Jim Jefferies has a wonderfully unique comic voice, and “Bare” is one of his most enjoyable standup specials.

His earlier special “Fully Functional” from 2012 is also recommended.

14. Eddie Murphy: Raw (1987) – 7.6/10 · IMDb Rating

Eddie Murphy: Raw (1987) – 7.6/10 · IMDb Rating

Eddie Murphy is a comedian. Murphy’s second major standup special, Raw, premiered in 1987 and had a broad cinema release. Eddie Murphy’s live stage routine, in addition to many sketches showcasing his funny voice and character work, distinguishes Raw. 

Raw delves into topics such as love, divorce, and Murphy’s childhood experiences. Considering that it was the 1980s, a lot of material hasn’t aged well. The language is also very vulgar throughout, so you won’t find this program humorous if that concerns you. Despite this, Raw got excellent reviews and became the highest-grossing standup comedy concert video ever.

15. Kevin Hart: Seriously Funny (2010) – 7.5/10 · IMDb Rating

Kevin Hart: Seriously Funny (2010) – 7.5/10 · IMDb Rating

Kevin Hart is among today’s most successful comedians, and the standup specials “Seriously Funny” (2010) and “Laugh at My Pain” (2011) are among his most well-known works.

Hart covers a wide range of issues in both specials, from the demands of parenting as well as his personal challenges. He’s equally skilled at keeping his audience laughing with his jokes, and his readiness to disclose personal information about his life makes him even more personable.

Hart always finds a way to hit close to home, whether talking about his failed marriage or his complex love/hate relationship with his father. His knack for empathizing with his audience has helped him become one of the most successful individuals in comedy today.

Best Standup Comedy Specials: Few Honorable Mentions

Most comedy enthusiasts will be familiar with most of the comedy specials mentioned above. For further recommendations, check the list of stand-up comedians special below, as no funniest stand-up comedy list is complete without mentioning these legends:

  • Mitch Hedberg – “Mitch All Together” (2003) / IMDb rating – 8.7
  • Bill Hicks: Relentless (1992) / IMDb rating – 8.5
  • Robin Williams – “Live on Broadway” (2002) / IMDb rating – 8.3
  • Richard Pryor – “Live in Concert” (1979) / IMDb rating – 8
  • Ali Wong: Baby Cobra (2016) / IMDb rating – 7.5
  • Trevor Noah: Lost In Translation (2015) / IMDb rating – 7.5
  • Hannibal Buress – “Animal Furnace” (2012) / IMDb rating – 7.5
  • Michelle Wolf: Joke Show (2019) / IMDb rating – 7.3
  • Ms. Pat: Y’all Wanna Hear Something Crazy? (2022) / IMDb rating – 6.0
  • Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted (2015) 

Closing Words

If you’re looking for a good chuckle, check out our selection of the 15 best comedy specials ever. The best aspect of standup comedy is how diverse it is. Whatever your sense of humor is, you will discover something that will make you chuckle. There’s bound to be a special that will tickle your funny bone, whether you favor observational humor, dark satire, or absurdist comedy. From a few top stand up comedians to some classic specials and fresh faces, this post is packed with some of the best standup comedy specials to give you some much-needed laughs these days. Who is your favorite standup comedian? Please share with Reviewsed in the comments section below.

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