Our celebration of all things comedy in 2015 continues with the 11 best comedy specials released this year. Enjoy our picks for funniest, most original comedy specials this year,
We picked our top eleven, but its up to you to decide who is #1. Last year you picked Jim Jefferies “Bare” as the comedy special of the year. This year you can choose from Paul F. Tompkins, Jim Norton, Bridget Everett, Robert Kelly, Sebastian Maniscalco, Tig Notaro, John Mulaney, Jay Mohr, Nate Bargatze, Eddie Pepitone and Anthony Jeselnik.
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If you haven’t seen Paul F. Tompkins’ stand-up, you might be surprised how personal he is. He talks about losing his parents, being in therapy, and his own marriage. Tompkins is a fantastic storyteller and packages heavy topics in a fun, sharp presentation, making the hour fly with strong, subtle, deft material. The special is both heartfelt at times and consistently hilarious.
Jay Mohr’s Showtime special HAPPY AND A LOT features Mohr as funny as ever. He credits his wife, Nikki Cox, as the writer of the special. Jay talks about married life, having different interests from his spouse but similar hates. Skilled at impressions, Jay launches into a killer Russell Brand impersonation. He also tells hilarious stories about Liberace and Las Vegas that you should watch and you will love. HAPPY AND A LOT features a happy Mohr that can still please the audience as well.
Nate Bargatze’s first one-hour stand-up special is an unbelievably strong debut special. Nate is a clean comic from the South, but do not stereotype him — he is one of the funniest comics working today. He has an ability to write bits that are so well-constructed and so naturally-delivered that you can’t wait to hear where he leads the audience next. His bits about getting into a fight in McDonald’s, the issues if he were to time travel, getting catfished, and he and his wife defending their home are all fantastic. Nate will continue to soar in popularity and this special is the first of many for the Tennessee native.
There is no one like Bridget Everett. So an hour of Bridget, which you see in GYNECOLOGICAL WONDER, is unlike any other special you could watch. Bridget brings her distinct Cabaret style to Comedy Central, with hilarious songs that make you realize why she is one of Amy Schumer’s favorites in comedy. Her first televised hour, filmed at her home space of Joe’s Pub in NYC, is hysterical, unpredictable, and unfiltered Bridget.
Anthony Jeselnik’s third released hour of stand-up shows some evolution in his act. THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS features some of the dark, twisted one-liners that his fans love, but also features some longer-form bits and stories. It is a big shift for Jeselnik, who remains respected as one of the strongest joke-writers in comedy. This one-hour Netflix special gives a glimpse at a comedian who launched to stardom, but continues to allow his persona to grow.
John Mulaney returns to the spotlight after his FOX series MULANEY was cancelled after one season. His Netflix special, THE COMEBACK KID, reminds audiences that he is one of the funniest stand-ups today. The one-hour special is a must-watch, even stronger than Mulaney’s first special, the excellent NEW IN TOWN. He reveals various stories about his family and childhood and well-written, fleshed out anecdotes well-beyond Mulaney’s age of 33. If Mulaney is still beating himself up about his sitcom failing, he shouldn’t. He’s gonna be just fine.
Sebastian Maniscalco’s Showtime special, AREN’T YOU EMBARRASSED? shows a comedian rising to stardom. Incredibly likable, quick-witted, and confident, Sebastian performs for a sold-out crowd in his hometown of Chicago. The ‘half-Sicilian, half-Italian’ Sebastian breaks down his upbringing, his parents, and his working-class roots. Sebastian’s endearing presence and strong delivery in this special make it clear why he is one of the fastest-rising stars in comedy today.
Tig Notaro’s first HBO special was just one part of a huge year for the comic. She had a Netflix documentary about her life called TIG and landed a pilot for Amazon that Louis CK will produce. In her HBO stand-up special, BOYISH GIRL INTERRUPTED, Tig headlines the Wilbur Theatre in Boston, where she does material that is silly and tells personal stories. The most talked-about moment in the special comes when she takes off her shirt to reveal her double mastectomy. She then continues her set and makes the audience temporarily forget they’re looking at a topless comic, which shows Tig’s strengths as a performer.
Jim Norton brought his no-holds-barred, topical humor in his third straight one-hour special for EPIX. Norton discusses the Bill Cosby rape accusations, the firing of his former co-worker Anthony Cumia, and dick pics. If you look at the track listings, you’d know it’s a Jim Norton special, but you should watch it, too. The track listings aren’t as funny as Norton is.
Somehow, Eddie Pepitone did not have his own stand-up special until IN RUINS. Pepitone filmed this special in Brooklyn, where the ‘Bitter Buddha’ showcased his one-of-a-kind style. Pepitone’s lovable anger is on full-display in this special, where he vents about himself and his own personal frustrations to U.S. foreign policy to inaccurate commercials. Pepitone has become a beloved veteran of stand-ups and his first special will please his fans, those who loved him after watching the Bitter Buddha, and those who are new to Eddie Pep.
ROBERT KELLY: LIVE AT THE VILLAGE UNDERGROUND
Robert Kelly films his first one-hour Comedy Central special at one of the best new clubs in the country. The Village Underground, which is run by the Comedy Cellar, is an amazing spot to showcase club comedy. And one of the best club comics today is Robert Kelly. He talks about being overweight, relationships, sex, and how disgusting men can be, smoothly segueing between each topic. Kelly is a pro who is unafraid to laugh at himself. If you haven’t had the chance to see Kelly live, this special is a great representative of the comic at work.