Best Standup Specials

by buttercupjacob | created - 01 Apr 2011 | updated - 03 Aug 2011 | Public

Some of my favorite stand up comedy acts.

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1. Sinbad: Afros and Bellbottoms (1993 TV Special)

Documentary, Comedy

8.2
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Director: Debbie Allen | Star: Sinbad

Votes: 98

This is one of those things that you can't appreciate for it's intelligence, so you just have to take it at face value. This is Sinbad in his only funny special, and it is gut-busting hilarious!

2. Chris Rock: Bigger & Blacker (1999 TV Special)

65 min | Comedy, Documentary

8.0
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Chris Rock brings his critically acclaimed brand of social commentary-themed humor to this 1999 standup comedy presentation from HBO. Also released as an album, Chris Rock: Bigger & Blacker... See full summary »

Director: Keith Truesdell | Stars: Chris Rock, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh, Monteria Ivey

Votes: 5,716

Chris Rock's social commentary and enthusiastic delivery is very present on this show.

3. David Cross: Bigger & Blackerer (2010 Video)

Unrated | 90 min | Comedy

7.1
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Bigger and Blackerer was taped during two shows, back-to-back on the same evening at Boston's Wilbur Theatre. Only by watching this video will you learn of Cross unique relationship with ... See full summary »

Director: Lance Bangs | Stars: David Cross, Todd Glass, Dean Crow, Mort Burke

Votes: 610

David Cross goes on rants about everything from airlines, drugs, date rape and most of all religion in this daring and sharp witted show. The kid at the beginning as well as the signer were both very annoying, but after that, the show becomes wonderfully engaging and entertaining. This should definitely have more than a 7.8!

4. Chris Rock: Bring the Pain (1996 TV Special)

TV-MA | 58 min | Documentary, Comedy

8.3
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The second HBO stand-up special by Chris Rock.

Director: Keith Truesdell | Stars: Chris Rock, Nelson George, Monteria Ivey, Ali LeRoi

Votes: 3,098

It's so great to see how Chris Rock has evolved as a performer by going back to his roots and watching his first special, only, you won't see any progress, you'll see Chris at the peak of his abilities.

5. Louis C.K.: Chewed Up (2008 TV Special)

TV-MA | 61 min | Documentary, Comedy

8.6
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Louis C.K.'s second one-hour special filmed at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston, MA.

Directors: Louis C.K., Shannon Hartman | Star: Louis C.K.

Votes: 8,453

Louis' self deprecating and honest approach to comedy makes him both off-putting and accessible. Those who go to comedy to escape reality will find it too negative and squeamishly close, but those who accept the weirdnesses and intimacy will find a lot to laugh at.

6. George Carlin: Complaints & Grievances (2001 TV Special)

55 min | Documentary, Comedy

8.5
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In "Complaints & Grievances," George Carlin's 12th HBO comedy special, taped at the Beacon Theater in New York on November 17, 2001 (ten weeks after 9/11), Carlin casts his usual jaundiced ... See full summary »

Director: Rocco Urbisci | Star: George Carlin

Votes: 2,811

One of Carlin's best specials. Sometimes you'll get one where he's particularly intelligent, and another where he's particularly humorous, on this he pulls off a perfect mixture.

7. Daniel Tosh: Completely Serious (2007 TV Special)

TV-14 | 60 min | Comedy

7.7
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Comedy's chosen one, Daniel Tosh, has been healing the sick, stopping wars, helping underprivileged children... and filming Completely Serious, the single greatest hour in comedy. What have... See full summary »

Director: Manny Rodriguez | Star: Daniel Tosh

Votes: 2,621

Daniel Tosh is a D-bag. Plain and simple. He's an unlikable jerk, but his offensive material is so appealing because of that. He truly DOES NOT care who he offends. He's not afraid of making the audience uncomfortable and in this, I find myself very amused.

8. Dana Carvey: Critics' Choice (1995 TV Special)

60 min | Documentary, Comedy

8.5
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Dana Carvey performs the best of his comedy stand-up routine.

Director: Keith Truesdell | Star: Dana Carvey

Votes: 343

Come on... Woman I know! Choppin' broccoli. Dana Carvey is a legend and this, his acclaimed special, is no exception.

9. Eddie Murphy: Delirious (1983 TV Special)

Not Rated | 69 min | Documentary, Comedy

8.2
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Eddie Murphy's raunchy, raucous stand-up comedy routine is captured for posterity on this tape. Not for folks who dislike foul language.

Director: Bruce Gowers | Stars: Eddie Murphy, James Argiro, Gus Loundermon, Brian O'Neal

Votes: 13,159

I was so used to seeing safe, obnoxious, children's film Eddie Murphy. The Eddie Murphy with no talent and no real sense of humor. Take a leap back in time to when he outrageously took the stage and owned this stand up special with an off the wall enthusiasm. Truly entertaining.

10. Brian Regan: The Epitome of Hyperbole (2008 TV Special)

TV-MA | 60 min | Comedy

7.8
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The Epitome of Hyperbole includes the following routines: Adults Living with Parents; Newspaper; Reading is Hard; One Thing Led to Another; Long Sentences; Speed Reading; Point/... See full summary »

Director: Troy Miller | Star: Brian Regan

Votes: 628

Brian Regan is one of the most fun to watch comedians. He's genius without showing off his intellect. In here, you get his normal satire and laughs. This time, it's a little less fresh. He's getting older and it shows, but there are some CLASSIC bits in this show. Mules' sense of humor, the opera skit, the stupid husband, they put a man on the moon. A very lovable special.

11. Bill Cosby: Himself (1983)

PG | 105 min | Documentary, Comedy

8.2
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A concert film in which Bill Cosby discusses weekends, raising children, dentists, and many other situations.

Director: Bill Cosby | Star: Bill Cosby

Votes: 3,226

Bill Cosby's unique brand of storytelling and humor are showcased in this act. Cosby's stand up inspired many legendary black comics to follow, including the incredibly famous Richard Pryor.

12. John Pinette: I'm Starvin'! (2007 Video)

Not Rated | 73 min | Comedy

8.2
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After starring in the Broadway smash Hairspray, John Pinette (The Punisher, Revenge of the Nerds) returns in the hottest show at the Montreal Comedy Festival. Named "Stand-Up Comedian of ... See full summary »

Director: Larysa Fenyn | Star: John Pinette

Votes: 376

John Pinette doesn't glorify his obesity in the idiotic ways of Gabriel Iglesias or Ralphie Mae. He makes food a whimsical and endearing part of his act. He knows he's fat and he addresses it, but he isn't always like, "Now if yer a big feller like me". He's tasteful, smart, and identifiable. He's an excellent performer.

13. Aziz Ansari: Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening (2010 TV Special)

Not Rated | 56 min | Documentary, Comedy

7.2
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Comedian Aziz Ansari presents his highly anticipated, hour-long debut stand-up special. The critically acclaimed stand-up and actor (Parks and Recreation, Funny People) discusses topics ... See full summary »

Director: Jason Woliner | Stars: Aziz Ansari, Brandon Johnson, Sara Von Gillern, Christina Glur

Votes: 2,005

Aziz Ansari in my mind is a comedic legend for one key reason: Human Giant. Human Giant was an edgy, inventive, entertaining and super intelligent sketch comedy show. Aziz went on with a success far greater than that of Paul Scheer (my favorite of the group) and Rob Huebel (Spelling?). This act showcases the specific brand of humor that Aziz brought to the show, while making himself seem a little cooler than he used to be. This show isn't perfect, but it's very funny and quite clever.

14. John Pinette: I Say Nay Nay (2005 Video)

60 min | Comedy

8.3
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Director: Robert Krakower | Star: John Pinette

Votes: 150

Not unlike I'm Starvin! They're both fun and have wonderful stories and quotable moments. Another home run for Pinette.

15. George Carlin... It's Bad for Ya! (2008 TV Special)

70 min | Documentary, Comedy

8.7
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It's Bad For Ya, Carlin's Emmy-nominated 14th and final HBO special from March of 2008 features Carlin's noted irreverent and unapologetic observations on topics ranging from death, ... See full summary »

Director: Rocco Urbisci | Star: George Carlin

Votes: 4,589

It's Bad for Ya! is bittersweet. Sweet because it shows Carlin at even an old age as smart, dark, and engaging as he'd ever been. Bitter because it's a remembrance of the incredible stand up career of one of our nation's most influential comics. George Carlin is the true God of the atheists in my opinion. *beep* Joe Pesci and the sun! I worship and pray to George Carlin.

16. Brian Regan: I Walked on the Moon (2004 Video)

55 min | Comedy

8.5
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Director: John Brenkus | Star: Brian Regan

Votes: 476

Brian Regan's peak performance. The Epitome of Regan. It shows the essence of his unique comic style while providing all of the most classic moments of his stand-up career. If you're looking to get into Brian Regan, this is the place to start.

17. Dave Chappelle: Killin' Them Softly (2000 TV Special)

57 min | Documentary, Comedy

8.8
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Dave Chappelle returns to D.C. and riffs on politics, police, race relations, drugs, Sesame Street and more.

Director: Stan Lathan | Stars: Dave Chappelle, Albert Precourt

Votes: 5,831

Dave Chapelle is without a doubt in the top 5 comedians of this decade. He has a socio-political commentary that is thought provoking and real. There is also a great deal of laugh out loud moments, such as the ghetto scene. Influential comedy at it's best. A modern classic.

18. Damon Wayans: The Last Stand? (1990 TV Special)

56 min | Documentary, Comedy

7.4
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The funny star of "My Wife and Kids" & "In Living Color" will knock you out with his very crazy controversial comedy routine. No one and no subject-matter is safe from this famed comedian.

Director: Terri McCoy | Star: Damon Wayans

Votes: 82

The Wayans are kind of a train wreck as far as comedy goes, but this special is close to the level found on In Living Color. It's not the smartest, or the funniest, but it's solid.

19. Stella: Live in Boston (2009 Video)

Unrated | 60 min | Documentary, Comedy

7.1
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STELLA is the unique comedy trio known for their critically acclaimed Comedy Central series, their long-running nightclub show and their wildly popular series of shorts on the Web. Now ... See full summary »

Directors: Jonathan Stern, David Wain | Stars: Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, David Wain, Erin Quinn Purcell

Votes: 108

Stella was a great TV show. They also put out some great shorts on line. This just so happens to be a great comedy act. Multi media humor that goes places with profanity and sex that the show couldn't go.

20. Chris Rock: Never Scared (2004 TV Special)

Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary, Comedy

8.1
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Are you ready for Rock? Actor/director/comedian Chris Rock performs a gutbusting set in this stand-up special taped before a live audience at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.

Director: Joel Gallen | Stars: Chris Rock, Dionicio Chambers, Doug E. Fresh, Eric Edwards

Votes: 4,384

This isn't the best Chris Rock can do, but it shows that a married man with kids can still be edgy, daring, and most of all funny in the world of stand-up comedy.

21. Patton Oswalt: No Reason to Complain (2004 TV Special)

TV-14 | 42 min | Documentary, Short, Comedy

7.6
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Stand-up special from Patton Oswalt.

Director: Paul Miller | Stars: Patton Oswalt, Scott Ian

Votes: 799

Before Patton Oswalt was having a kid he was a very funny man. His scattered approach and mind boggling creativity is a spectacle. He also gets props for mentioning The Good, The Bad and The Ugly as possibly the best film ever made. I laughed heartily several times. Good intellectual humor.

22. Demetri Martin. Person. (2007 TV Special)

42 min | Documentary, Comedy, Music

7.8
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A unique talent, Demetri Martin is one of the hottest stand-up comics working today. His new special, Demetri Martin. Person. Inventive and insightful, this top-rated program brings the funny in ways you've never seen.

Director: Jay Karas | Stars: Demetri Martin, John Agrapides, Joseph Greca, Christene Martin

Votes: 1,499

If Demetri's low key special If I was on Imdb, I would have chose it in a flash, but this is the closest they have. If I is a poignant, painful, and immensely intellectual stand-up that I can't rightfully call comedy. Person is more accessible, funnier, but a little dumbed down. It's still genius and excellent, but nowhere near as satisfying as his previous work.

23. Katt Williams: The Pimp Chronicles Pt. 1 (2006 TV Special)

TV-MA | 45 min | Documentary, Comedy

7.8
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In-demand comedian Katt Williams offers up The Pimp Chronicles courtesy of HBO. Williams shares his thoughts on such topics as drugs, politics and pop culture in this special event.

Directors: Anthony Anderson, Gary Binkow | Stars: Katt Williams, Anthony Anderson, André Benjamin, Da Brat

Votes: 1,360

Katt Williams really kind of sucks as a comedian, but the Pimp Chronicles is quite good. It works through repetition and comedy based off of principles of life. It's pretty damn funny.

24. Bill Hicks: Sane Man (1989 Video)

81 min | Documentary, Comedy

8.6
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Classic stand-up performance recorded in Austin Texas in 1989.

Directors: Kevin Booth, David Johndrow | Star: Bill Hicks

Votes: 1,823

Sane Man is a picture of a truly insane man. INSANE. Bill Hicks literally freaks out before an audience and shows them inside his mind of dark, disturbing, and cynically funny commentary. He's truly disgusted and gets truly disgusting and it's a fascinating journey to travel down. The reaction at the end is the perfect finishing touch. Mesmerizing stuff.

25. Nick Swardson: Seriously, Who Farted? (2009 TV Special)

TV-MA | 59 min | Comedy

7.1
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The biggest names in stand-up. The wildest live audiences. The most outrageous, uncensored comedy.

Director: Linda Mendoza | Stars: Joel Clark Ackerman, Alex Parlar, Nick Swardson, Marta Zolynska

Votes: 833

The Frat Boy humor on this is redundant and stupid, but there are sprinkled bursts of imagination that occur when Nick tells his fantasy stories. They are witty and humorous and make it worthwhile to wait through all the stupidity.

26. Louis C.K.: Shameless (2007 TV Special)

TV-MA | 56 min | Documentary, Comedy

8.7
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Comedy and television star Louis C.K. returns to HBO for an hour of no-holds-barred, adults-only stand-up comedy! Taped before a live audience at the Henry Fonda Theater in Los Angeles, the... See full summary »

Director: Steven J. Santos | Star: Louis C.K.

Votes: 6,728

I don't know if I like Shameless or Chewed up more, but this is just another example of C.K's brilliance. Way to go, man.

27. Brian Regan: Standing Up (2007 TV Special)

60 min | Comedy

7.8
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The DVD features the complete Brian Regan Comedy Central special along with an encore performance not shown in the original Comedy Central broadcast and Brian's Comedy Central Presents half... See full summary »

Director: Troy Miller | Star: Brian Regan

Votes: 602

Even Regan's worst can make any stand up list of mine. This isn't that great, but the Dora the Explorer part and the cards skits, among others are very good.

28. Mike Birbiglia: What I Should Have Said Was Nothing (2008 TV Special)

Unrated | 60 min | Comedy

7.6
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A few years ago my therapist suggested I keep a journal of the awkward moments occurring in my life. Around the same time audiences were demanding more material, so I started sending this ... See full summary »

Star: Mike Birbiglia

Votes: 1,153

Birbiglia's nostalgia and honesty make this more than just a stand up special. It's a memoir with a humorous spin, performed live. It's entertaining and fascinating. Mike delivers the material very well and makes the whole thing brilliant.

29. Bo Burnham: Words, Words, Words (2010 TV Special)

TV-MA | 63 min | Comedy, Music

8.2
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The internet (and soon to be movie, TV, radio, etc.) phenomenon, Bo Burnham, brings you his first one-hour stand-up special "Bo Burnham: Words, Words, Words" from the House of Blues in Boston.

Director: Shannon Hartman | Star: Bo Burnham

Votes: 1,677

Bo Burnham takes Carlin's un-PC and cynical humor and meshes it with the musical sensibilities of Tom Lehrer. He's also more eloquent and wordy than either of those men. At his age, Burnham can be called nothing than a prodigy. A mad scientist with brains beyond his years.

30. Eddie Izzard: Dress to Kill (1999 Video)

Unrated | 115 min | Documentary, Comedy

8.7
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Executive transvestite Eddie Izzard takes his show to San Francisco to give a brief history of pagan and Christian religions, the building of Stonehenge, the birth of the Church of England ... See full summary »

Director: Lawrence Jordan | Star: Eddie Izzard

Votes: 6,632

A documentary equivalent of a live Monty Python act. Quick and witty British humor that draws heavily from history and culture. There's no question in my mind as to why this is a classic special.