The digital age makes everything accessible, especially in the entertainment industry. Over the last few years, comedians have been catching their biggest breaks with household name TV networks (Showtime, HBO) and on-demand streaming subscription services (Netflix, Seeso). These expedient media moguls have taken advantage of the exclusivity involved in signing famed comedians, ultimately owning the rights to their specials.
Netflix signs production deals with comedians for both new and old material. Doing so has generated a plethora of media exposure and additional subscribers. Signing big-name acts with popular and upcoming stand-up specials has generously expanded their network and increased their competitive edge against companies like HBO.
As of January 2017, Netflix has acquired 94m subscribers and have outbid their competitors for famous acts – making them the central source for comics. Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock walked away with $20m per stand-up special (this year alone). Classic comedians such as Katt Williams and Mike Epps continue to rake in bank for their most successful stand-up specials – as they are available to stream within the Netflix comedy archive.
With comedy industry production and buzz at its highest, comes the inevitable incentive for comedians to elevate their material to entertain a ‘humor de-sensitized’ audience and satisfy ever-growing media network companies.
Below is a compilation of our top-rated comedy specials of 2016-17 (by date) including comedians Aries Spears, Sasheer Zamata, Michael Che & more. Decide for yourself which acts make the cut & rank the highest.
1. Hannibal Buress, Comedy Camisado (Netflix) – February 5, 2016
2. Alonzo Bodden “Historically Incorrect” (Showtime) – February 19, 2016
3. Deon Cole “Cole Blooded Seminar” (Comedy Central) – June 25, 2016
4. Dwayne Perkins “Take Note” (Netflix) – July 1, 2016
5. Godfrey “Regular Black” (Showtime) – August 12, 2016
6. Kevin Hart, “What Now?” (Universal Studios) – October 14, 2016
7. Wanda Sykes “What Happened…Ms. Skyes?” (Epic) – October 21, 2016
8. Aries Spears “Comedy Blueprint” (Seeso) – November 24, 2016
9. Michael Che: “Matters” (Netflix) – November 25, 2016
10. Gina Yashere “Ticking Boxes” (Seeso) – February 16, 2017
11. Roy Wood Jr. “Father Figure” (Comedy Central) – February 19, 2017
12. Trevor Noah “Afraid of the Dark” (Netflix) – February 21, 2017
13. Dave Chappelle: “The Age Of Spin” & “Deep In The Heart Of Texas” (Netflix) – March 21, 2017
14. Sasheer Zamata “Pizza Mind” (Seeso) – March 30, 2017
Allegedly coming to Netflix on May 16, 2017 is Tracy Morgan’s “Staying Alive”, which is rumored to be one of the best stand-up specials of the year. Many more comedians have material in production, with non-disclosed release dates, such as Corey Holcomb’s “The Book of Coreythians”, Taylor Williamson (TBA) and Chris Rock (TBA). We look forward to the future of stand-up and can’t wait to see what creative content comedians come up with next.