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The Knee-Slappingest Stand-Up Comedy Specials Of 2017 Thus Far

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stand-up comedy specials best

It’s been a dope year for stand-up comedy and 2017’s not even close to being over; we still have new specials coming out later this year from Chris Rock, Judd Apatow, Patton Oswalt, Ellen, and Seinfeld. This year may go down as one of the best in stand-up’s history, so I thought I’d break down the 10 best specials from January-today. If you disagree with this list, please email me at

10. Norm Macdonald: Hitler’s Dog, Gossip & Trickery

Watching Norm feels like having a conversation with your goofy uncle who you don’t know that well but it’s always fun to watch him annoy granny at Thanksgiving. It’s a joy to watch him complain about how he feels ripped off with regard to never having had an acid flashback, and how “big acid doesn’t care about the little guy.”

9. Louis CK: 2017

In past articles I’ve had a blast bashing CK for allegations of being a major league creeper in his personal life, but he is one of the funniest dudes in the history of funny dudes. This special can’t touch his early stuff, but it gets close. The part that made me laugh the hardest was when he talks about his daughter thinking “9/11 deniers” were 9 people who think the number 11 doesn’t exist.

8. Neal Brennan: 3 Mics

He has 3 mics on stage. He goes to one for one-liners, one for traditional long-winded stand-up, and one for a serious monologue where he explores his clinical depression. Watching a comic discuss his demons with no punchlines, sandwiched between otherwise normal standup, is intriguing.

7. Mike Birbiglia: Thank God for Jokes

Mike Birbiglia is arguably the best storyteller in standup today. He’s slow and dry in a way that makes you feel like you’re just watching your buddy tell you awkward stories from last week. He’s one likable son of a bitch.

6. Sarah Silverman: A Speck of Dust

It’s damn near impossible to make topics like rape and the holocaust funny (God knows I try), but somehow Sarah Silverman has mastered that shit. She’s the queen of shock humor, and it comes off like she’s not even trying. She stands there with the mic in the stand, rarely moving around, just casually rattling off fucked up stories.

5. Chris D’elia: Man on Fire

Chris D’elia is like a slightly weirder Dane Cook if Dane grew his hair out and forgot to shave. If that description doesn’t sound like your style, then stop being such a damn snob. He laughs a lot at his own jokes, but theres something contagious about watching a comic who’s clearly having fun on stage.

4. Rory Scovel Tries Standup for the First Time

There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Rory Scovel, which sucks. Shame on you. He’s absurd in an effortlessly organic way that doesn’t feel like a desperate “look at how weird I am” hipster vibe. Watch him and make this fucker famous already.

3. Tracy Morgan: Staying Alive

We almost lost Tracy 3 years ago in a near-fatal car crash that put him a coma and kept him from walking and talking for a year. Lucky for us, he’s back to normal and ready to joke about his near-death experience. He’s painfully personal, but he’s still Tracy, and he’s still ready to get someone pregnant at any moment in time. What did we do to deserve Tracy Morgan?

2. Jerrod Carmichael: 8

Jerrod’s got a unique, relaxed vibe. He’s comfortable and conversational, quiet and slow, practically whispering at times. The special’s shot in an oddly intimate way to where it feels like you’re standing next to him on stage. My favorite line: “Ya know what the difference is between a mistake and a miracle? 2 trimesters.” I wanna get that tattooed on my forehead ASAP.

1. (TIE) Dave Chappelle: The Age of Spin & Dave Chappelle: Deep in the Heart of Texas

Chappelle’s joke-crafting skills are impeccable. The way he goes on an insightful, long-winded rant about the state of America since WWII that unexpectedly explodes into a shocking transition into a bit about the Bill Cosby scandal is like watching a trapeze artist walk a tightrope with their eyes closed. The two specials are different sides of the same coin. Deep in the Heart of Texas is casual and candid — he sits down for a lot of it and just fucks around with the crowd — while Age Of Spin is meticulously crafted down to every pause. They’re both hilarious. The king is back.

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Wally Bryton

TFM's most beloved writer

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