In the documentary. Misery Loves Comedy, actor, comedian, creator and director Kevin Pollak asks his fellow comedians do you have to be miserable to be funny?
If you like stand-up at all, you’ll have watched all the obvious specials that are on Netflix Instant Watch. Louis CK, Jim Gaffigan, Lewis Black, Aziz Ansari and Patton Oswalt.
If you’ve digged a little deeper you’re probably a big fan of all of the Bill Burr specials, you’ve watched Kevin Hart, Jim Norton, Jim Jeffries, and Russell Peters. Some were for you, some weren’t.
Here is what’s left that you should definitely check out no matter what flavor of stand-up comedy you enjoy.
Marc Maron’s Thinky Pain. I know a lot of people listen to his podcast, WTF with Marc Maron but I hardly ever hear anyone talk about his stand-up. In the past I’ve tried listening to previous albums by him unable to get into his jokes or find the Maron that I enjoyed on his podcast or his guest appearances on others. Then I watched his latest special and discovered he’s just one of those you have to watch. This special is done in a small venue, mere feet away from the audience and with no plan what-so-ever. His sits on a stool almost entire time during his set and basically tells stories of his life, his mid-life crisis and pain. Pain being a general theme with Maron but I appreciated it a lot more if I could see his facial expressions, his half open eyes and body language.
“I don’t really know if someone loves me if I can’t make them cry. Isn’t that the test for all of us, really? If you’re with someone and you really don’t know if you can make them cry I would go deeper. Can’t trust that bond.”
Eddie Pepitone’s In Ruins is stand-up comedy brewed with absurdities, rants and topped with an existential crisis. His rants are like a satire on the very serious and political rants of Lewis Black. He manages to take the pain of depression, of the sadness that comes with the absurdities of life and makes them silly with his yelling. There isn’t a lot of comedian who balance silliness with the personal which makes Pepitone’s special rather refreshing.
“Did you ever buy a hat where you like it so much, like, you look in the mirror like holy shit, this hat kind of makes up for a life that wasn’t well lived. Yes, I spent thirty years in a stoned out phrase masturbating to hockey fights but that’s because I didn’t have this fucking hat.”
Moshe Kasher reminds of a modern day Greg Proops, if Greg Proops had grown up in Oakland listening to hip-hop. In Live in Oakland, where he grew up with his mother, he pokes fun at his effeminate body language, his jewish background and his upbringing while mixing it up with the “I am intelligent and I am going to use it to make fun of you,” style of jokes. Kasher self-depricates enough to be empathetic but cocky enough to let the viewer know he deserves to be the center of attention. He has the perfect mix for a good stand-up comedian. A bit of a nerd with no filter, a lot of swagger and a not-giving-a-fuck-what-you-think attitude from a childhood balancing his drug-filled delinquent life in Oakland with his mother and his very strict Hasidic Judaism with his father in New York.
Reading YouTube comments on a clip of his joke: “And finally, fuck you, suck dick, never try to be a comedian again you stupid bitch. I hope you die from cancer so you can find out how foul really is, love Dad. That one hurt quite a bit. My dad’s been dead for ten years so it adds a layer of mystery to the thing. I didn’t even know they had the internet in hell. Turns out they do, it’s dial-up.”
Morgan Murphy has been a name I have heard spoken of a lot on comedy podcasts for several years but never actually seen until her stand-up special, Irish Goodbye, came to Netflix. The bombastic comedian and the storyteller comedian is so common now that it isn’t often you get the soft spoken straight forward joke teller like Todd Barry or Steven Wright. Morgan Murphy uses storytelling not just to tell a humorous situation with little quips that get a laugh but always ends her stories with a good punchline. Mix this all in with her subject matter which can take just enough of a dark turn that I enjoy and you have a new favorite comedian of mine. There isn’t enough dry wit in comedy.
“How weird is it ladies, how weird is it that we put penises in our mouths? That shit’s crazy. Like ladies and gay dudes but I’m not even including gay dudes because you have one so you get it but… we put penises in our mouths! Look at your wife, your girlfriend, look at her, your bestie, look at her right now. She has put so many penises in her mouth. Just shoved them in there where sandwiches go. That is sandwich space and we just do instinctively like we’re supposed to do it or something. Like if you put in front of me a mint, a chocolate milk and a penis and asked what does these have in common I’d go they go in my mouth, I’m not stupid.”
Like jokes about books, language, time travel, comic books, using complicated wordplay and lots of puns? Myq Kaplan’s Small, Dork, and Handsome is perfect for you then. It’s perfect for me.
“From childhood we learn, what’s the story? The Ugly Duckling. What’s that about? A duck was ugly but then it grew and found it was actually beautiful but also a different species. Sort of a M. Night Shyamalany twist at the end there that I don’t know how that is supposed to be inspiring to a kid. Hey, stop crying. Maybe you’re not a hairy ugly child. Maybe you’re going to grow up to find you’re a beautiful chimpanzee. You could be the chimpiest chimp, the chimp of the ball.”
These five specials are on Netflix Instant Watch right now, so go check them out.