Netflix is a joke – at least that’s what they want you to think. From their cryptic billboards to their comedy-only Instagram account, Netflix has been engaged in an aggressive push to become the go-to place for comedy. Last month it kind of paid off, as Netflix was the only streaming service or channel to release any comedy specials. In case you missed it, here’s a rundown of what dropped in October.
Rodney Carrington – Here Comes the Truth (Netflix)
The dick joke-slinging cowboy comedian is back with a new special filmed in his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. A product of the blue collar comedy boom of the early 2000s, Carrington is staying close to his roots, while making sure to keep the blue in blue collar. He’s quick to address the post-divorce weight gain that makes him almost unrecognizable before getting into promised truths like, “If you have giant tits you have a way better advantage in life – even retarded people know that,” and shocking personal revelations like, “…Donald Trump, who I love. He’s my guy.” And then there are some songs.
Christina P – Mother Inferior (Netflix)
Christina Pazsitzky’s first special focuses largely on another big first in her life: becoming a mom. Much like Ali Wong’s Baby Cobra, Christina P gets into the nitty, gritty aspects of having and raising a child, never relenting in her descriptions of what becoming a mother does to the body, mind, and soul. She hopes that in being candid about the reality of childrearing she can empower others to embrace their fears and imperfections. As she told us in a recent interview, “There are so many taboos still surrounding motherhood, including the ambivalence about it sometimes. I’m no psychopath. I absolutely love my son to death. My husband and my child are my world. But there are still a lot of taboos around it. What I’m really proud about is that I wrote a lot of that stuff in the throes of severe postpartum depression. I literally wrote those jokes at four in the morning rocking the baby. It’s great that in my darkest hour something good came out of it that may help other people.”
Patton Oswalt – Annihilation (Netflix)
“It’s chaos. Be kind.” This message to Patton Oswalt from his late wife Michelle has emerged from this new special at a crucial time in history. Recorded just over a year after his wife’s tragic passing, Annihilation explores the actual hellscape the comedian found himself in both personally and politically. The special opens up by addressing the elephant in the room that is our current president and his effect on the world at large, then graduates to an intimate second half about loss, love, and moving forward. After his wife’s death, Patton found himself in a black hole of grief. “Here’s what was really scary: I didn’t have any thoughts. I was so numb…I didn’t give a shit about creating anything,” he told us. But now, a year and a half later, he’s finding himself again, thanks in part to four words his wife told him: “‘It’s chaos. Be kind.’ If you want to talk to God — or whatever you think God is — go be nice to another person. That is the best way to communicate with the infinite. Be nice to a family member, a loved one, go spread that around. That’s sort of what I was doing, or started to do once I could move. You’re being a superhero when you’re out doing that. You don’t know how it will be spread around, but you know that you’re literally out there doing good.”
Jack Whitehall - At Large (Netflix)
With a Britney Spears-style headset and swirling camerawork, Jack Whitehall’s At Large feels reminiscent of Tom Cruise’s performance as Frank T.J. Mackey in Magnolia. Whitehall is a pretty big deal in the UK, and since Netflix is a global media provider, I’m sure people somewhere really enjoyed this one.
Judah Friedlander – America is the Greatest Country in the United States (Netflix)
In what Judah Friedlander refers to as more of “a feature-length standup performance film,” America is the Greatest Country in the United States explores American exceptionalism through the thick lenses of a satirical comedian best known for giving himself the moniker “World Champion.” Recorded in a low-budget, DIY style, the special is a compilation of several nights worth of black-and-white footage from intimate NYC comedy rooms where Friedlander engaged his audience in discussions of race, money, fascism, climate change, and human rights. Claiming to be running for president, he gives the audience a chance to ask questions about his stance on the important issues, then delivers solid platform points like, “We don’t need to bring back coal, but I am going to bring back all the VCR repairman jobs.” His honest and hilarious look at America was inspired by time spent abroad. He explained in a recent chat with us that “it’s like if you’re in a bad relationship and you can’t see it, but all your friends can see it. They’re like, ‘Why are you with that person? They’re an asshole to you.’ At the time you can’t see it, but a couple years later you’ve broken up with that person and you look back and go, ‘Wow, I was an idiot. Why was I with that person? They’re horrible.’ I started to be able to see my own country a little more clearly.”