With every Christmas comes a tidal wave of stand-up DVD releases. But actual physical discs are, like, so 2011, right? Who wants a DVD box clogging up valuable shelf space, where you could display your collection of Marvel action figures or Fabergé eggs?
The internet, Netflix in particular, is where smart comics are now releasing their recordings. Last week, Aziz Ansari became the first big-name comic to release his show direct to the streaming service, and there are heaps of excellent (mostly American) specials to take in. It’s £5.99 a month to subscribe, but you can always test the waters with a one month free trial. So, where to start? Here are our picks.
2008. 60 mins.
Why watch? CK helped pave the way for internet stand-up, releasing his ‘Live at the Beacon Theater’ special as a $5 download on his website. It’s on Netflix too, but his finest show is still ‘Chewed Up’: a masterfully written hour of grown-up stand-up.
Seen it already? Try ‘Bill Burr: You People Are All the Same’ or ‘Doug Stanhope: No Refunds’.
2010. 62 mins.
Why watch? If you've missed Burnham’s rare London gigs, you can catch his previous show, ‘Words, Words, Words’, on Netflix. You might need to watch it twice. Or thrice. Or 14 times. So many jokes are packed into his songs it’s impossible to register them all in one viewing.
Seen it already? Try ‘Reggie Watts: Why $#!+ So Crazy?’ or ‘Tim Vine: So I Said to This Bloke’.
2013. 75 mins.
Why watch? While most stand-up specials are in-ya-face – ‘Cleveland, how y’all doing? Make some noise!’ – affairs, Birbiglia’s is more laidback. A charming, confessional storytelling show, taped at an intimate Seattle theatre. One for a Sunday afternoon.
Seen it already? Try ‘Demetri Martin: Person’ or ‘Glenn Wool: No Land’s Man’.
2010. 81 mins.
Why watch? Part-stand-up but mostly documentary, this critically lauded film follows Rivers for over a year, aged 75, when her career ain’t going so great. She’s on typically acerbic form, mocking herself more than her usual celeb targets.
Seen it already? Try ‘George Carlin: It’s Bad for Ya’ or ‘Iliza Shlesinger: War Paint’.
2013. 79 mins.
Why watch? It’s Netflix’s latest and biggest stand-up release, and ‘Buried Alive’ is Ansari’s best show yet. It mainly covers familiar comedic territory – turning 30 and feeling under pressure to settle down – but Aziz totally owns it and finds some of the freshest, funniest angles we’ve heard on the subject.
Seen it already? Try ‘Jim Gaffigan: Mr Universe’ or ‘Moshe Kasher: Live in Oakland’.