Having written a post about my favourite comedians I thought it'd only be right to talk about a few of my favourite comedy specials. A comedy special is the ultimate goal for a stand-up comedian, and only a few of them get the chance to craft an hour of material and get it out there to the masses.
Years ago, comedy specials were holy grails coveted by the comedy world, but with Netflix and other online mediums we're privileged to have more and more talented individuals creating their best hour. In 2018 Netflix alone released 59 comedy specials! And whilst I could write a post about my favourite ones just from that list, below is my Top 5 from all time
Bo Burnham: Make Happy
I've followed Bo for a number of years and, in my opinion, Make Happy is one of the best produced specials I have ever seen. The lights, the music cues, the silly audience interactions. Everything is so quintessentially Bo Burnham.
It's a big mix of stupid jokes, quick comments and musical delights that just make the hour pass by so quickly and leave you wanting more. But for me I find it so inspirational too. The final song, Can't Handle This, is so inspiring and energetic that after watching this special I will almost always go and do something productive immediately after.
Eddie Murphy: Delirious
If you're looking at a list of the top comedy specials of all time you will have to search for a long time to find one that doesn't mention this one. The iconic 1983 special became the benchmark from which all other specials since have been based off. The energy, the pace, the leather suit; everything about it is so powerful and awe-inspiring.
Eddie is one of the greatest comedians of all time, there's no doubt about that, but for a lot of people it's his movie career that defines him; but for comedians and those with more years behind them it's his flawless stand-up shows and this special in particular that will stand the test of time.
Richard Pryor: Live in Concert
Four years before Eddie Murphy stole the show Richard Pryor, one of the king's of comedy, recorded his famous special. Grossing over £15 million to date the numbers reflect the jokes. Pryor was and still is regarded as one of the greatest comedians of all time and if there's an hour that can get you hooked to everything else that's he's done it's this one.
Joke after joke, story after story in an age where comedy was motoring on it's path to the top of entertainment Richard Pryor was at the top of it all.
Eddie Izzard: Dress to Kill
Eddie Izzard is everything that a comedian wants to be. He's wild, he's funny, he's wacky and he's Eddie Izzard. Right before the turn of the Century the Dress to Kill special came out and knocked comedy for six. The wonderfully dressed Izzard tells stories and jokes that make you both think, question yourself and lose your mind in confusion and laughter.
Dress to Kill is a pure out and out comedy special and has created references that will live forever, including the ever-famous 'Cake of Death' skit.
Dave Chappelle: Killin' Them Softly
In what ultimately became a special that created a superstar Dave Chappelle set his mark as one of the top comedians of the 21st Century (I know it's hardly started) with his Killin' Them Softly special. The skinny Chappelle talked about everything they tell you not to when you're getting into stand-up and as a result he changed the way many Americans viewed race, politics, drugs and Sesame Street.
This special also makes this list for it's significance in creating a comedy world that we are so familiar with today. It spawned The Chappelle Show and undoubtedly influenced Chappelle's later works as well as specials and sets from comedians around the world for the next decade and more.