Lately it feels like women are in the midst of taking over the comedy world (or at least, arriving in equal droves). But if you want proof that funny business is still very much a boys club at heart, look no further than the Internet’s insta-offerings of stand-up specials. Though we can credit Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and most recently Maya Rudolph with the victorious return of the intelligent sitcom and variety show, there are still remarkably few lady stand-ups getting widespread attention online—at least according to my best friend, Netflix.
So where are all the lady stand-ups? I know they exist! I’ve seen them around the Upright Citizens Brigade. I’ve watched them make hilarious cameos in various Judd Apatow movies. They’re on SNL and Comedy Central, doing their thang. But let’s go ahead and shout out their specials, hidden on lists behind the George Carlin and Bob Saget disciples of the comedy universe. I rabble-rouse again: let there soon be a day where all kinds of ladies create all kinds of comedy!
1. Maria Bamford: The Special Special Special (Netflix)
Maria Bamford is the ultimate awkward comic—and as if to prove this fact, she staged a stand-up special in her living room and invited only her parents. Boasting a wide range of bizarre impressions (Paula Deen’s suicide note-in-recipe-format comes to mind) and a hyper-neurotic demeanor, Bamford is insanely watchable. Her jokes are mainly contingent on excellent, utterly weird characters. A+ Stuff.
2. Women Who Kill (Netflix)
This smorgasbord of funny ladies doesn’t disappoint. Featuring a diverse group of sets from comics Amy Schumer, Nikki Glaser, Marina Franklin and Rachel Feinstein, this special feels deliciously modern in its sensibility; all these women are both bawdy and super smart. Franklin makes a series of on-point race-related remarks about her visit to South Africa, and Schumer woos the crowd with her typical deadpan (“He was super cute. He looked like the guy from The Hills. . . Have Eyes.”) But my favorite discovery from this round-up is Rachel Feinstein. Check out her hilarious bit on “guys named Richard” about five minutes into her set.
3. Ellen DeGeneres: The Beginning (HBOGo)
This one’s a bit of a throwback, but seriously—who doesn’t love Ellen? Nobody, that’s who. I want to follow her around for a miniature lifetime. I like DeGeneres because she’s such a warm performer—her jokes are always incisive and hilarious, but lack any mean-spiritedness. I was hooked on this special from her opening bit, in which she informs the crowd that she doesn’t want to talk about her journey out of the closet—because “it’s best expressed through interpretive dance.”
4. Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles (HBOGo)
Sarah Silverman’s brand of demi-political humor isn’t everyone’s bag—but it should be. I love her lampoonery. Nothing is safe from this savvy comic’s watchful eye―especially not religion, the conservative agenda, or her audience. I think Silverman is one of the wittiest comics working today. There’s a bit in this special where she characterizes self-deprecation as self-obsession, and goes on to imagine an alternate history in which Mother Theresa was a vain, modern-day woman. Also, if you have the inclination, check out her other special, Jesus Is Magic. Brouhaha’s all around.
5. Margaret Cho: Beautiful (Netflix)
Another modern classic. Margaret Cho’s big, lovely ode to self-acceptance is a laugh riot. The queen of raunchy humor spins occasionally distressing sex stories into comic gold (see one particularly great mime bit involving a grandfather clock, about an hour in). She’s also one of those performers who’s so evidently having fun onstage. It’s very endearing.
*Honorable mentions go to Aisha Tyler Is Lit (Netflix), Joan Rivers’ Don’t Start With Me (Netflix), and the Janeane Garofalo and Wanda Sykes specials on HBO.
Have any other lady specials to highlight? Post below! Or better yet, get thee to an open mic, funny girl.
(Images via Adult Swim, WilliamBruceWest, Pop Justics, Youtube, RamenEntertainment)