‘Inside’: Laugh at these Netflix comedy specials that are way too real
Sometimes you laugh so hard you cry, and other times you’re laughing when maybe you should really be crying. In recent years, standup comedians have been playing with people’s perception of how their genre works. One after another, different comedians are getting up on stage and talking about serious issues, often without sacrificing the laughs.
Netflix has a bevy of these comedy specials that border on being too real. Here are some of the best ones for you to check out tonight.
Bo Burnham’s new Netflix comedy special, Inside, has been making waves online. Burnham wrote, filmed, and edited the entire special inside his home during the Covid pandemic. The special gets real about the dangers of the internet, income inequality, systemic oppression, and depression. Burnham manages to combine searing criticism and a deeply personal work of art with nearly non-stop laughs.
Burnham’s first Netflix special was Make Happy. While it doesn’t get as “real” as Inside, it’s still an excellent example of deeply personal, self-aware comedy. Burnham has repeatedly proven himself to be a master of his genre.
Private School Negro
W. Kamau Bell hosts the CNN documentary series United Shades of America. He put out a comedy special on Netflix back in 2018. Private School Negro takes on cultural & political issues with as much ferocity as Bell’s CNN series. He highlights racial disparities in America, the struggles of parenting in the Trump era, and people’s tendency to revert to their worst impulses in tough times.
Bell has a special ability for making his comedy increase the impact of his social commentary. Private School Negro is one of the funniest comedy specials on Netflix, but at no point does Bell compromise the message that he’s trying to get across to his audience.
Daniel Sloss Live Shows
Daniel Sloss has two comedy specials on Netflix. As a tongue-in-cheek reference to criticisms of his style, Sloss named the first special Dark. Throughout the set, Sloss pokes at sensitive subjects like disability and religion. Then he tells the story of his little sister’s death. In Jigsaw, Sloss asks whether or not romantic love exists and tries to convince his audience that their long-term relationships are inherently doomed.
Sloss occupies a niche in the comedy world. “Dark” is a perfect description for his style, but unlike other comedians who might claim the descriptor, Sloss never makes a joke that goes for shock value alone. He doesn’t aim to offend – he just frankly discusses the parts of life that are difficult to talk about.
This was the first Netflix comedy special from comedian Hannah Gadsby. The special’s structure pulls the audience in with jokes before launching into a lengthy stretch of social commentary punctuated with humor. Gadsby uses her experience growing up as a lesbian in a conservative small town in Australia to talk about the way society in general talks about and values people.
Many criticized Gadsby’s style for being “like a lecture”. She took that criticism in stride and worked it into a part of her next special, Douglas, which also tackles real-world issues. Gadsby is endlessly entertaining even when she gets angry at the worst aspects of society.
Not quite a comedy special, this Netflix documentary follows comedian Tig Nataro. In 2012, Nataro was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. Her response was to create a comedy set about her experience as a cancer patient. The set blew up overnight and turned Nataro into one of the most famous comedians in the world.
Now a cancer survivor, Tig continues to perform today. Her comedy always offers a dry take on life’s hardships. She consistently demonstrates the ability to find humor even in the worst of situations.
Have you seen any of these specials before? Which is your favorite? Tell us in the comments!