15 of the Best Netflix Specials From International Comedians
Over the past few years, there's been a massive explosion of stand-up specials available on Netflix from comedians all over the world. And while I could easily rewatch John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch for the millionth time, I thought it might be best to try out something new. From my search, I discovered that Netflix has a treasure trove of stand-up specials from international comics whose jokes and stories are both universally relatable and a fun peek into another culture. So if you are like me and want to be cultured without sacrificing the laughs, I'm here to tell you that you can have it all! To start out, here are 15 of the best Netflix specials from international comedians.
Netflix has a plethora of comedy specials within the umbrella program Comedians of the World. So many of them are incredible, but the first one you absolutely must watch is by Mae Martin, listed under the UK section. Martin, a Canadian transplant living in the UK, delivers a hilarious and moving 30 minutes of stand-up that focuses on her struggles with addiction and the many forms it can take as well as her life-long obsession with Bette Midler. Once you're done with Martin's special, check out her equally brilliant Netflix show Feel Good!
James Acaster: Repertoire
British comedian James Acaster delivers four incredible specials for the price of one. Listed together as one "season" under Repertoire, these work both as standalone acts and as one very long special, filled with callbacks and connections from one to the next. Each special contains brilliant observations about life's most mundane occurrences as well as hilarious stories, such as Acaster's planned revenge on a Pret A Manger (yeah, the grab-and-go sandwich and coffee chain — it frankly had it coming).
Katherine Ryan: Glitter Room
Katherine Ryan, a Canadian comedian living in the UK, delivers an incredible sophomore stand-up special with Glitter Room. Come for charming stories about Ryan's very proper British daughter, stay for her eviscerating takedowns of the pains of dating, toxic masculinity, and stigmas against single moms. By the end, you'll realize you just spent the last hour yelling "yes!" and snapping your fingers at the TV (or you will if you're cool like me). Afterward, check out her Netflix show The Duchess (which is not only funny but also has an amazing soundtrack and incredible fashion).
After watching Glitter Room, you'll probably want more incredible feminist stand-up content, but perhaps in a smaller dosage. Head on over to The Comedy Lineup and switch on Irish comedian Aisling Bea's special. In just 15 minutes, Bea discusses her fascination with America, from our insane slang to our even weirder "sports parties."
Hannah Gadsby: Douglas
A spectacular follow-up to Nanette, Hannah Gadsby's Douglas is not to be missed. There's no need for me to explain Gadsby's prowess as a comedian. Put simply, she continually sets new standards for what stand-up can be. In Douglas, that not only means incredibly moving stories about her experiences with misogyny and struggle to get a proper autism diagnosis but also an art-history lecture. That's right, an art-history lecture that actually left me gasping for breath from laughing so hard. Art history can be hilarious in the right hands.
You may recognize Gina Yashere as the British correspondent on The Daily Show. Did you know she also has more than one stand-up special available on Netflix? While they all are great, her half-hour set available under the umbrella program The Standups really showcases her staying power.
Greg Davies: You Magnificent Beast
Britain's own Greg Davies is a towering presence and, as this special proves, I don't just mean his 6'8" stature. No topic is too taboo for Davies, including his personal disasters in manscaping. But perhaps his most delightful jokes center on his stories about being a former teacher (as Davies says, "Bless you, heroes!") and how quickly the most insane (and dumb) things we say can change our perceptions of one another.
Sofía Niño de Rivera: Selección Natural
Sofía Niño de Rivera's special focuses on how dumb people can be, and she honestly makes some pretty good points. The jokes and scorching-hot takes throughout the Mexican comic's special focus on natural selection and how she thinks humanity can save itself (spoiler: mostly just condoms). As an American point of reference, she reminds me a lot of Michelle Wolf, in the best way possible!
Jack Whitehall: I'm Only Joking
It's important to laugh at yourself sometimes, and Jack Whitehall's special makes that easy for me. The British comedian's special mainly focuses on relationships, happy couples, and being single. But his bit about how we as a society have too many milk options really got me. As someone who uses multiple types of milk in a day (Almond milk works in cereal but not coffee! I stand by my choices!), it left me first laughing hysterically, then sighing and saying, "Well, he got me there."
Ronny Chieng: Asian Comedian Destroys America!
You may already know Malaysian comedian and actor Ronny Chieng from The Daily Show and Crazy Rich Asians. He's lived pretty much all over the world, which makes his jokes and critiques about American excess all the more hilarious. As he points out, Americans seem to hate just about everything, except maybe Netflix!
Urzila Carlson: Overqualified Loser
South African-New Zealand comedian Urzila Carlson will keep you laughing as she shares stories about sex-tape regrets and boxed-wine hangovers. But it's the particular way she eviscerates shows such as The Biggest Loser that elevates her special for me.
Daniel Sloss: Live Shows
Like Acaster's Repertoire, Scottish comedian Daniel Sloss gives us two specials bundled together as one "season." The first, titled Dark, lulls the viewer into a false sense of security of laughter, before he dives into a joke-fueled, but nonetheless insightful, look into disabilities and who gets to decide where the line between funny vs. offensive lies. The second, called Jigsaw, focuses more on love, though maybe not in the way you might think (spoiler: a cute jigsaw metaphor gets turned on its head as Sloss interrogates society's obsession with romance).
Russell Peters: Almost Famous
Russell Peters concludes a tour that spanned 120 cities and 25 countries in his home city of Toronto. The veteran stand-up consistently brings his fun, no-joke-is-too-far attitude to comment on everything from cultural quirks to kids' furniture to why he does not trust male Indian doctors.
Whindersson Nunes: Adulto
If you are in the mood for some delightful and lighthearted observations about everyday life, look no further than Brazilian comic Whindersson Nunes. His take on how the small things in life stress out kids way more than adults is one of the more cross-cultural, universal remarks I have heard in a while.
Katherine Ryan: In Trouble
OK, it might be cheating to recommend TWO Katherine Ryan specials, but I've got an agenda to push and, frankly, you'll thank me later! Ryan's debut Netflix special, In Trouble, runs just as much of a wide and fun gamut as Glitter Room, from her tongue-in-cheek takes on pop stars to stories of her hometown to sage relationship advice. And then, for real, watch The Duchess so it will become even more popular and Ryan can make that second season!