2018’s Funniest Comedy Specials
In my opinion. Oh and they’re all women.
Early in the year I asked my friend Conor what he was up to over the weekend. He told me was taking his husband to see a comedian, Iliza someone. “ILIZA SCHLESINGER?!” the 11-year-old child who lives inside my brain exclaimed. Conor had an extra ticket.
I watched Iliza deliver hilarity that would later make up Elder Millennial. To then watch her—honestly fucking flawless—performance on Netflix and see the degree of skill, professionalism and downright polish she puts on her material was inspiring. Her nostalgia-soaked comedy is so vivid, you feel like you just woke up with a guy in your bed after a bottle of wine and 4 hours of sleep and then realize you forgot to take out your contacts. You feel like you’re there.
I love her, I have always loved her, because she tells the fucking truth—about both genders. She also made a goddamn playlist for her special which is the most elder millennial thing an elder millennial has ever done. As a treat, watch her Instagram highlight where she gets a DM from Channing Tatum after he watches this.
Before Ali Wong’s Baby Cobra, I’d never seen a comedian perform visibly pregnant. Then she did it again. It was an Andy Kaufman-esque move where you’re laughing and happy the second you see her, before she’s even started the show.
I bet you never knew you could so thoroughly enjoy a Ted Talk on the sounds a vagina makes after giving birth, but Ali enlightens you. I’m a big fan of her particular brand of filth, the rawness to it that goes beyond sexual raunch and into … I don’t know what to call it, anatomical honesty? And no, 58-year-old-white-dude-who-comments-on-all-my-shit-and-emails-me-his-life-story-for-no-reason, her dirty is not made more “palatable” because she’s pregnant. When she’s talking about period sex, nobody gives a fuck about her belly—we’re just enjoying a brilliant comic. I didn’t think it possible after Baby Cobra, but Ali Godfathered for us, friends. The sequel is somehow better than the original.
This was a special special. If 2018 had a syllabus, Nanette would top it. It is necessary genius at work, and I hope you’ll make yourself a better person by watching it. I don’t know how to talk about this one yet. Press play.
Do you enjoy crying from laughing really hard? What about visual aids? Aparna Nancherla (and also Michelle Buteau below) is my favorite comedic discovery of 2018. You need to watch this to realize how uncomfortably dumb and un-funny we all are when compared to this total superhero. You know how someone can come across as very kind and lovely and then also smack right wing politics across the face with a wet trout? That’s Aparna. Follow her on Twitter, it’s important.
If you stand on stage and tell men that nobody wants to see their dicks, you have a fan for life my friend, yes you do. If Michelle Buteau had been my college professor I’d have graduated with colorful satin cords over my shoulder, I just enjoy her delivery of words. I was really happy when Netflix launched The Comedy Lineup and The Standups, giving us lots more comedy content and exposure to new (to us — these people are career comics) comedians to follow. But when I realized Michelle’s 15 minutes were up I was like what is this amuse bouche shit FEED ME NETFLIX. I’m ready for her hour whenever y’all are.
Also a pregnant, Natasha Leggero (and her husband, Moshe Kasher) gifted us a special that starts with an abortion joke and doesn’t stop for red lights. Easily my favorite Comedy Central roaster (though Snoop Dogg is a close second), Natasha really knows how to get to the gizzards of the joke—just stick your hand right in there. She is fearless and covered in sequins and fur, I shouldn’t need to say more.
When Janelle James said that she wants to die with a bagel in her hand, I started believing in soulmates a little bit. The “why are we doing what we’re doing” tone to her work is the kind of honesty I crave when I’m convinced our leadership is guiding us by the earlobe into doom. Her thoughts on reproduction in this political climate need to be freshman year course requirements. This is a comic I want to share a cheese plate with. Or we’ll each get one, whatever.
I love it when a youth is funny. Taylor Tomlinson is really fucking funny. She’s also really fucking young. If she’s this fucking funny when she’s this fucking young, I think maybe in ten years she could be the only comedian and that would be okay. She’ll be the Amazon.com of comics one day and nobody’s going to mind.