If you’re in the mood for a good laugh, you must check out our list of the 10 best stand-up specials of all time. These specials will have you rolling on the floor with laughter. From classic comedians like George Carlin, Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, and Eddie Murphy to more modern comics like Louis CK and Bill Burr, there is something for everyone on this list. So grab a friend, dim the lights, and prepare to be entertained!
One of the best things about stand-up comedy is that it’s so diverse. You can find something to make you laugh no matter what your sense of humor is like. Whether you prefer observational humor, dark humor, or absurdist comedy, there’s sure to be a special that will tickle your funny bone.
Stand-up comedy has also been around for a long time. It dates back to the 1950s when comics like Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl started performing in small clubs. Since then, it has continued to grow in popularity, thanks in part to TV specials, Saturday Night Live, Comedy Central, and Netflix stand-up comedy specials.
So if you’re looking for a good way to spend an evening, why not check out one of these top 10 hilarious comedy specials? You won’t regret it!
1. Dave Chappelle: “Killin’ Them Softly” – 8.7
One of the best comedians of all time is Dave Chappelle. He burst onto the scene in the 1990s with his Comedy Central show, “Chappelle’s Show”, but it was his 2000 stand-up special, “Killin’ Them Softly”, that really cemented his place as a comic genius.
This special is full of hilarious insights into the human condition, from police brutality to race relations. Even Sesame Street isn’t safe from his humorous criticism. Chappelle’s unique brand of humor is on full display in this hour-long set, and he proves that he’s one of the best in the business.
If you’re a fan of Dave Chappelle, be sure to check out his later specials, “For What It’s Worth” in 2004 (IMDb 8.5) and “The Age of Spin” in 2017. They’re both well worth a watch!
2. George Carlin: “You Are All Diseased” – 8.5
George Carlin is one of the most famous comedians of all time, and his 1999 special, “You Are All Diseased”, is a solid choice. This hour-long set is full of Carlin’s trademark wit and humor, and it’s sure to leave you laughing. His unforgettable facial expressions are an art form that separates him from the typical stand-up comedian.
The topics covered in this special include religion, airport security, men’s names, and all things taboo. Carlin doesn’t hold back in his criticism of society, and he delivers his jokes with razor-sharp precision. If you’re looking for a no-holds-barred comedy special, then “You Are All Diseased” is for you.
His more recent “It’s Bad for Ya” in 2008 (IMDb 8.5) with its unique stage layout is also a can’t-miss for George Carlin fans. He continuously reminds the audience with a single joke that everyday life is “all bullshit and it’s bad for you.”
3. Eddie Izzard: “Dress to Kill” – 8.6
Eddie Izzard is best known for his unique brand of surreal, stream-of-consciousness comedy. His 1999 special “Dress to Kill”, filmed in San Francisco, is an excellent example of this style of humor.
In it, Izzard covers a wide range of topics from British history to the afterlife. He delivers punchlines with perfect timing, and his humor is sure to make you laugh.
Izzard’s 1997 special “Glorious” (IMDb 8.4) is also worth watching. It’s less well-known than “Dress to Kill”, but it’s just as funny.
4. Louis CK: “Shameless” – 8.5
Louis CK is one of the most popular comedians working today. His 2007 HBO special “Shameless” is a must-watch for anyone looking for a good laugh. In it, CK covers a wide range of topics, from parenting to religion.
CK’s 2010 special “Hilarious” is also worth watching. It’s less well-known than “Shameless”, but it’s just as funny. If you’re a fan of Louis CK, be sure to check out his other specials, including “Live at the Beacon Theater” (2011) and “Oh My God” (2013). Be sure to watch them too.
5. Bill Burr: “You People Are All the Same” – 8.2
If you’re a fan of stand-up comedy, then you’ve probably heard of Bill Burr. He’s a comic genius who’s best known for his no-holds-barred insights into the human condition. His 2012 special, “You People Are All the Same”, is a perfect example of this style of humor.
In it, Burr covers a wide range of topics, from plastic surgery to reality TV. His bit on Arnold Schwarzenegger and gold diggers alone makes this Netflix special a must-watch. He delivers his one-liners with perfect timing, and his humor is sure to make you laugh. If you’re looking for a hilarious stand-up special, then “You People Are All the Same” is definitely worth watching.
Burr’s 2010 special “Let It Go” is also worth watching. If you’re a fan of Burr, be sure to check out his other specials, including “I’m Sorry You Feel That Way” (2014) and “Walk Your Way Out” (2017). They’re all worth watching!
6. Chris Rock: “Bring the Pain” – 8.2
Chris Rock is a comedian who is known for his comedy specials. His most popular and well-known comedy special that made him a household name is “Bring the Pain” which was released in 1996. The HBO special is known for its no-holds-barred approach to humor as Chris Rock covers a variety of topics such as relationships, race relations, and more.
While some may find his humor to be crude, there is no denying that Chris Rock is a comic genius who knows how to deliver a joke with perfect timing. If you are looking for a stand-up comedy special that will have you laughing from beginning to end, then “Bring the Pain” is definitely worth a watch.
Additionally, Rock’s other comedy specials such as “Bigger & Blacker” (1999), “Never Scared” (2004), and “Kill the Messenger” (2008) are also worth watching if you are a fan of his comedic style.
7. Patrice O’Neal: “Elephant in the Room” – 8.2
Patrice O’Neal’s “Elephant in the Room” is a searing stand-up comedy special that pulls no punches. O’Neal fearlessly tackles controversial topics like race, animal cruelty, harassment, and relationships with a laser-sharp wit and unapologetic honesty.
His textured delivery and incisive jokes land like sharp jabs, leaving the audience both laughing and pondering his jokes. Patrice always had a great stage presence that made him a natural when interacting with an audience. His stand-up act displays it perfectly, which was sadly his last Comedy Central special.
And while some of his material may be offensive to some, there’s no denying that O’Neal is a master of his craft. “Elephant in the Room” is required viewing for any fan of stand-up comedy.
8. Jim Jefferies: “Bare” – 8.0
In his stand-up special “Bare,” Jim Jefferies tackles a wide range of controversial topics, from gun control to religion. While his raw and often profane delivery might not be everyone’s cup of tea, there’s no denying that Jefferies is a fearless comedian who isn’t afraid to push boundaries.
In one of the standout routines from the Netflix special, Jefferies takes on the issue of abortion, making a compelling case for a woman’s right to choose. He also takes on racism, rape culture, and other hot-button issues, always with an eye toward provoking laughter and thought.
Whether you love him or hate him, Jim Jefferies is a truly original voice in comedy, and “Bare” is one of his best stand-up specials to date. His previous special “Fully Functional” in 2012 is also worth checking out.
9. Eddie Murphy: “Delirious” – 8.1
Eddie Murphy’s stand-up specials “Delirious” (1983) and “Raw” (1987) are two of the funniest and most influential comedy specials of all time. “Delirious” was Murphy’s first special, and it cemented his reputation as a master of comedy.
The special is packed with classic bits like Murphy’s imitations of Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, and his famous take on Reaganomics. “Raw” is even funnier, with Murphy riffing on everything from divorce to the perils of being famous. He even goes into his comical disagreement with Bill Cosby over his foul language.
Both specials are essential viewing for any fan of comedy, and they showcase Eddie Murphy at his very best.
10. Kevin Hart: “Seriously Funny” – 7.5
Kevin Hart is one of the most popular comedians working today, and his stand-up specials “Seriously Funny” (2010) and “Laugh at My Pain” (2011) are two of his best-loved works.
In both specials, Hart tackles a wide range of topics, from family life to his own personal struggles. He’s equally adept at making his audience laugh at his jokes, and his willingness to share intimate details about his life makes him all the more relatable.
Whether he’s talking about his failed marriage or his love/hate relationship with his father, Hart always finds a way to hit close to home. It’s this ability to connect with his audience that has made him one of the most successful men in comedy working today.
Best Stand-Up Comedy Specials (Honorable Mentions)
Most comedy fans will obviously know most of these specials and may have additional suggestions for the best stand-up comedy specials. Here are a few more comedy legends like Robin Williams that deserve a mention:
- Mitch Hedberg – “Mitch All Together” (2003) / IMDb – 8.7
- Bill Hicks – “Relentless” (1992) / IMDb – 8.5
- Robin Williams – “Live on Broadway” (2002) / IMDb – 8.3
- Richard Pryor – “Live in Concert” (1979) / IMDb – 8.0
- Robin Williams – An Evening with Robin Williams (1983) IMDb – 8.0
- John Mulaney – “Kid Gorgeous at Radio City” (2018) / IMDb – 8.0
- Jerry Seinfeld – “I’m Telling You for the Last Time” (1998) / IMDb – 7.9
- Richard Pryor – “Live on the Sunset Strip” (1982) / IMDb – 7.6
- Steve Martin – “A Wild and Crazy Guy” (1978) / IMDb – 7.6
- Hannibal Buress – “Animal Furnace” (2012) / IMDb – 7.5
- Zach Galifianakis – “Live at the Purple Onion” (2006) / IMDb – 7.2
- Sarah Silverman – “A Speck of Dust” (2017) / IMDb – 6.9
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