A Guide to Hidden Comedy Gems on Netflix

by Megan Hemenway
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These days, Netflix is jam-packed with comedy specials of all kinds. The selection ranges from legends like Jerry Seinfeld and George Lopez to rising stars like John Mulaney and Joe Rogan. Not only that, but comedy takes a variety of forms. There’s animated TV shows, improv specials, and sketch anthologies. With all of these options, it’s hard to find something that’s truly worth your time. But never fear, here is a guide to some of Netflix’s best, hidden comedy gems!

Stand-Up

Bo Burnham

Bo Burnham in his second comedy special, Make Happy
Bo Burnham’s Make Happy, Courtesy of Netflix

Although Bo Burnham isn’t exactly “hidden”, there are still plenty of people who have never experienced his witty genius. Using a variety of wordplay, theatrical timing, and music, Burnham creates an experience you’ll never forget. Plus, he’s much younger than your typical comedian and this shows in the wisdom hidden inside his jokes. Additionally, his comedy has a fair amount of explicit language and a hint of political commentary.

On Netflix: what. (2013) and Make Happy (2016)

Hasan Minhaj

Hasan Minhaj in his comedy special, Homecoming King
Hasan Minhaj’s Homecoming King, Courtesy of Netflix

Despite only having one comedy special on Netflix, Hasan Minhaj has made a splash in the comedy world. His comedy, while focusing on politics and social issues, brings an undeniable edge of honesty that is absolutely hilarious. He’s especially skilled at telling stories, and weaves jokes into serious topics. He definitely has something special to offer. Aside from his special, Minhaj also hosts The Patriot Act, a political satire show similar to The Colbert Report or Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.

On Netflix: Homecoming King (2017) and The Patriot Act (6 seasons)

Iliza Shlesinger

Iliza Shlesinger in her latest comedy special, Iliza Unveiled.
Iliza Shlesinger’s Iliza Unveiled, Courtesy of Netflix

When looking through woman comics on Netflix, it’s almost impossible to avoid Iliza Shlesinger’s comedy. She has a wide variety of specials plus a brand new sketch show, all available on Netflix. Why should you watch her? Well, Shlesinger has a talent for exposing all the secret thoughts people have, especially women. She brings these embarrassing moments to life with fantastic physical comedy and witty phrasing. Not only that, but she’s incredibly relatable too.

On Netflix: Freezing Hot (2015), Confirmed Kills (2016), Elder Millenial (2018), Iliza Unveiled (2019), The Iliza Shlesinger Sketch Show (2020).

Mike Birbiglia

Mike Birbiglia in his 2017 comedy special, Thank God for Jokes.
Mike Birbiglia’s Thank God for Jokes, Courtesy of Netflix

If you’re a fan of John Mulaney, you should definitely check out Mike Birbiglia. Although his comedy is typically clean (which may be a downfall to some people), he still strikes with plenty of laugh out loud moments. Additionally, Birbiglia tackles a lot of adult topics such as marriage and having children, in a very relatable way. His most recent special was featured on Broadway as a one-man show. He also has a range of other specials on Netflix.

On Netflix: What I Should Have Said Was Nothing (2008), My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend (2013), Thank God for Jokes (2017), The New One (2019)

Nate Bargatze

Despite being fairly new to Netflix, Bargatze’s special is one you don’t want to miss. Right out of the gate, he provides hilarious stories with perfect punchlines. The really special thing about Bargatze though is his deadpan delivery. If you love cynical humor and sarcasm, check out Nate Bargatze. No doubt he will become a rising star in the future.

On Netflix: The Tennessee Kid (2019)

Taylor Tomlinson

Taylor Tomlinson in her first comedy special, Quarter-Life Crisis
Taylor Tomlinson’s Quarter-Life Crisis, Courtesy of Netflix

Rounding out our stand-up section, we have Taylor Tomlinson. Tomlinson reflects much of Iliza Shlesinger’s younger days. Much of her comedy revolves around being a young woman and the trials and tribulations of everyday life. But don’t be fooled, Tomlinson is a surprisingly straight and narrow girl with an interesting background. This experience gives her a whole range of hilarious things to talk about on stage. She definitely has an easy-going quality to her that makes her easy to listen to.

On Netflix: Quarter-Life Crisis (2020)

Comedy Shows

“Middleditch and Schwartz”

Thomas Middleditch and Ben Schwartz in their first improv comedy special "Middleditch and Schwartz"
Middleditch And Schwartz, Courtesy of Netflix

Although Thomas Middleditch and Ben Schwartz are known separately for their work on Silicon Valley and Parks and Recreation respectively, together they create a powerful comedic force. In their special Middleditch and Schwartz, the pair presents three episodes of pure genius. They begin by having a small conversation with an audience member and from there spin a web of improv that is both impressive and hilarious. This special will give you quotes to repeat and laugh about for years. Middleditch and Schwartz is a must watch!

“Big Mouth”

The comedy show "Big Mouth"
Big Mouth, Courtesy of Netflix

Although fairly popular, there couldn’t be a comedy list without Nick Kroll’s animated series, Big Mouth. Featuring a dazzling cast of voice actors (including John Mulaney, Maya Rudolph, Jenny Slate, and Nick Kroll himself), Big Mouth tells the story of a group of pre-teens in their journey through puberty. While the occasional touching moment appears, don’t be fooled. This show is insanely raunchy and blunt, which could be part of its appeal. No secrets or innuendos are kept on Big Mouth. But, isn’t that how puberty is? Watching this show will certainly have yourself reminiscing on your younger years.

“I Think You Should Leave”

Tim Robinson in his comedy sketch show, "I Think You Should Leave"
Tim Robinson in I Think You Should Leave, Courtesy of Netflix

If you’re looking for an easy, short comedy series, I Think You Should Leave will be perfect. With a variety of sketches written by and starring Tim Robinson, the show offers slightly odd, quirky humor. Robinson’s awkwardness creates a hilarious tone that lasts the entirety of the series. Plus, with only six episodes, I Think You Should Leave is easily digestible and worth the watch.

“Documentary Now”

Lastly, we have Documentary Now, a mockumentary series that has been running for three seasons but doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves. The show features SNL legends Bill Hader and Fred Armisen along with cameos from other comedians recreating famous documentaries with a satirical, comedic spin. The only word to describe it is absurd. However, Hader and Armisen put on a fantastic performance that will be hilarious even without having seen the original documentary.

Don’t waste any more time! Open up Netflix, get some popcorn, and get to watching. And laughing, of course. Let us know what you think or if we missed any of your favorite hidden comedy gems. Get more comedy scoop down below!

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