February 25, 2021
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Story tips, concerns, questions?

The “Netflix is a Joke” campaign has been huge in relaying the great comedy specials they have to offer. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

By Daniel Diaz, Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: Added quotes, sources, and information that was originally omitted.

Comedy is subjective. Someone’s favorite comedian can be another’s most hated. Some like dark or crude humor while others enjoy the family-friendly variety. Everyone has their taste in comedy and comedians, but regardless of who you find funny, it is important to have that form of entertainment in which you find joy and humor. Laughter is important for your health and daily life in a normal setting and is even more important now that everyone’s stress levels are soaring because of COVID-19. 

Dr. Giacomo Bono, Associate Professor of Psychology at CSUDH, spoke with me about humor and its importance for stress and good health.

“Humor can be a break from stress,” Bono said. “It’s a way to open up and talk about subjects that are scary, making [topics] more approachable.”

And if we’ve learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s how important it is to stay in contact with friends and family. We’ve revolutionized how we communicate and hang out with the help of things like Netflix Party (now Teleparty) and Disney+. Thanks to Disney+, not even social distancing could keep me from watching the new season of “The Mandalorian” with my brother-in-law. This is the way.

“It’s good to get out of your own head.” Bono said. “Laughter has a social orientation. It helps you feel bonded to others. When you laugh together you feel similar. When you have that, it is so valuable. It really makes a world of difference.”

Not only does laughter bring people together, but it also has several health benefits.

“[When we laugh] our blood vessels enlarge which helps relieve the cardiovascular system,” John Bouras, a psychiatrist at Menninger Clinic in Houston said. “Laughter helps reduce negative stress hormones, like cortisol, [which helps] with releasing endorphins, so pain tolerance is better.”

We all need to escape the stresses brought on by the pandemic, even if it’s for the length of a comedy special. Texas Medical Center reporter Maggie Galehouse agrees.

“In other words, if you’re feeling the weightiness of social distancing and the threat of possible illness, introduce some levity into your routine,” Galehouse said, “ Look for standup comedy specials on Netflix or listen to a podcast produced by someone who makes you laugh.”

Now that you know why comedy and laughter are so important, here are five top-rated comedy specials and comedians available on Netflix in no particular order.

1. “Bill Burr: I’m Sorry You Feel That Way” (2014)

Bill Burr is currently one of the hottest names in comedy. He has four specials available on Netflix, his latest being “Paper Tiger” released in 2019. Burr is not one to mince words or shy away from social issues. A commonly used line in his stand-up is “Why is it so quiet in here?” He is famous for not caring what other people think about him or his work. It is almost as if his goal is to talk about a subject that will reach an awkward silence with the crowd.

2. Dave Chappelle: “The Age of Spin: Dave Chappelle Live at the Hollywood Palladium” (2017)        

The “Age of Spin” was part of a collection of two specials released at the same time, the second being “Deep in the Heart of Texas: Dave Chappelle Live at Austin City Limits.” 

Chappelle, best known for his wildly popular self-titled sketch show that ran on Comedy Central from 2003-2006 anchored him into the comedy pop culture zeitgeist. Chappelle is considered by many critics to be one of the best storytellers and comedians of all time. 

Chappelle is another comic who is not afraid of joking about controversial issues like race, gender, and the police. His return to stand-up after taking a step back years ago has been greeted with warm welcomes and grateful comedy fans.

Some of Chappelle’s best work is available on YouTube for free. Specials like “Killing Me Softly” and “For What It’s Worth” were my first exposure to the comedic icon. 

3. “LOUIS C.K. 2017” 

Louis C.K. has landed himself in some hot water in recent years as many people know. He was accused of several incidents of sexual harassment with female comics and later confessed to his actions. With his wrongdoings exposed for the world to see, he was promptly ostracized, or “canceled” (as the kids say these days), out of the spotlight and had his future projects and shows end.

However, many of his fans are still loyal to his work to this day. He was very apologetic for his actions, and rather than deny his actions and sink further down the rabbit hole, he confessed, apologized, and took some time to think about what occurred. I’m not condoning what he did, and neither should those who consider themselves fans of his, but I also believe in second chances and that if he did return to a global spotlight he would be watched like a hawk by everyone around him. 

His specials are some of the best you will see in his style of comedy. Louis C.K. said he learned early on in comedy that half of the audience should be laughing, and half should look disgusted. This is the reaction he tries to get out of people from his style of comedy. 

4. “ADAM SANDLER” (2018) 

Adam Sandler is tough to gauge at times. When it comes to his body of work, you either enjoy his style of humor or you do not. It is not something everyone would enjoy or believe to be funny. 

This special was different from most comedy specials. Sandler spent as much time singing songs on his guitar as he did traditional stand-up. It was filled with humor, music, and a touching tribute to his late friend and comedy legend Chris Farley. I grew up on “Tommy Boy” and Farley’s SNL skits, and if you did too, be prepared to shed a few tears. It was a tasteful change of pace from the normal comedy specials fans are used to today.

5. “Chris Rock: Tamborine” (2018) 

Chris Rock has been one of the biggest names in comedy for decades. He has made several stand-up specials and acted in numerous movies throughout his illustrious career. His style, crass, and voice are easily identifiable and unique. 

In what is his latest special, “Tamborine”, Rock tackled the hardships of being a black man and father in America and joked about America and “the white man”. These are heavy subjects as of late, as the Black Lives Matter movement has sparked discussion and action among all genders, races, and ages. Rock told his story and perspective while helping people laugh and enjoy themselves even when talking about a subject as sensitive and important as this. 

Comedy is equally subjective as it is important. Everyone needs to laugh and relax regardless of who you go to for it. These five specials were received well by its reviewers online, and are worth a watch when laughter is something you need.

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