No matter who you are or what you believe in, the past six months have likely been an emotional roller coaster. Our world is changing quickly, and amidst all the tumult and polarization, getting a quick laugh in can be healing.
It may be no coincidence that Netflix started airing a ton of comedy specials over this same time period. We’ve been watching the lot of them—telling ourselves that it’s research to benefit you, our readers.
But really, we’ve needed them, too.
If you don’t have a way to stream Netflix, we highly recommend picking up Roku as a cost-effective option.
I Coulda Been Your Cellmate! with Mo’Nique
While this one isn’t new—it aired in 2006—we did just recently notice it as a streaming option.
Mo’Nique visits a women’s prison on Mother’s Day to hear the prisoners’ stories and perform for them.
We have to stop here and note that many women in prison are victims of some type of abuse. We all make our own decisions, but many of these women were in there because of an immediate situation related to the abuse or because of scars the trauma left in their youth.
We all know Mo’Nique is hilarious. But we’ve never watched a comedy special that made us cry before. Simultaneously funny, to the point, and moving, Mo’Nique provides commentary on her perceptions of prison life and encourages the talents of the women inside aiming to provide them with hope for their futures—and to help us all understand their circumstances.
Thank God for Jokes with Mike Birbiglia
Mike Birbiglia is the funniest comedian we had never heard of.
Heck, he may be one of the funniest comedians hands down.
His shows are smartly constructed. His timing and ability to work on the spot with his audience are impressive. And his jokes are just plain hilarious. Most of them aren’t overly “dirty” either, which we think is a more difficult task.
Except for that one time he had a run-in with the Muppets and accidently dropped the F-bomb. It’s a story worth hearing.
You can hear it in Thank God for Jokes. When that’s done, we’re willing to bet you binge on his other two specials featured on Netflix, as well.
Afraid of the Dark with Trevor Noah
You’re probably familiar with Trevor Noah from The Daily Show where he covers the political news of the day with humor.
Even if you’re not a fan of his show, we still recommend this comedy special. We love how he confronts rather than avoids topics like race, imperialism, alcoholism and cultural norms. He manages to provide commentary in a way that is funny, and, at least in this special, not overly partisan. His opinions are strong but his focus in this feature is on recognizing our differences—and being able to see the comedy in them.
Lower Classy with Cristela Alonzo
In Lower Classy, Cristela Alonzo riffs on her experiences as a member of an immigrant family, being raised Catholic and being a woman in a way that picks fun at our prejudices. While the perspective is different from what many in American culture consider to be “mainstream,” the experiences she relates remind us that we have more things in common than we think—like pushy mothers and crazy boyband crushes—even if we’re looking at them through a different lens.