The Netflix logo illuminates the screen opening to a stage devoid of anything except a single stool with a cup of water sitting on it. A person walks on stage and the crowd roars, applause drowning out all other noise. Silence falls, the star begins their show, and you laugh in unison with the crowd — all in the comfort of your own home. With over 100 comedians, Netflix’s wide array of stand-up comedy not only provides laughter but further introduces diversity into the world.
Most commonly known for its shows like “Stranger Things” and “Queer Eye,” Netflix has been bringing entertainment to the masses since 1997. In 2012, however, Netflix broadened its range of shows and movies, adding stand-up comedy shows into the mix as well. Such a decision not only shined a light on not-yet-popular comedians, but it also provided a platform for people to voice their opinions —whether it be about politics or social issues. One comedian in particular, Ali Wong, used her platform to bring voice to the Asian-American and pregnant community. In both her stand-up specials, “Baby Cobra” and “Hard Knock Wife,” Wong shines a light on feminism, comparing her experience as a mother to the fantasy presented in movies or to the light expectations placed on fathers. Even her active performance — she lies down on the stage several times — shows that, although pregnant, women are still capable of doing whatever they want. They aren’t as “fragile” as the world makes them to be. Above all, Wong seamlessly uses witty humor to weave such messages into her jokes, providing an hour-long experience full of laughter.
Ali Wong isn’t the only comedian shining a light on social issues — Hasan Minhaj has brought attention to immigration and the conflict between cultural tradition and modern society. In his stand-up special, “Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King”, Minhaj reflects on moments from his life — from growing up in a Muslim family in California to his first taste of stand-up comedy. He focuses on all of the racism he faced, emphasizing the pacifist lifestyle he was taught to follow by his family, and uses such experiences to tell his tale of maturation and self discovery. And though Minhaj touches on controversial topics, earning gasps at several moments during his stand-up special, he doesn’t fail to keep things real. Joking about topics such as terrorism, which isn’t usually something that is taken lightly, has the potential to be taken the wrong way, but Minhaj perfectly balances comedy and seriousness, providing jokes while ensuring people walk away with a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them.
Other comedians like John Mulaney bring notes of relatability and comedy to Netflix. With three stand-up comedy specials, “New in Town”, “The Comeback Kid”, and “Kid Gorgeous,” Mulaney has proved to be a fan favorite, and it’s clear to see why. His mature appearance greatly contrasts with his eccentric stories about his childhood, marriage, or simply his life in the bustling city of New York. The effect of seeing such a proper man — with an entire ensemble of a suit and dress shoes — tell stories about school assemblies about “Stranger Danger” hosted by a stranger adds a certain level of ironic humor that furthers the comical impact of the special. Beyond that, Mulaney’s jokes resonate with his audience. His various accents and reenactments of events transport watchers into the event, and allows each person to imagine the sheer absurdness of Mulaney’s life experiences.
Whether you’re looking for deep comedy that leaves a profound impact or light jokes that you can distract yourself with, Netflix seems to have a Netflix comedy special for anything and anyone.