Unsurprisingly, with the world upside down for another year, there weren’t a lot of stand-up comedy specials released in 2021 (though it did pick up in December). As such, I’m expanding this category a little bit to include some of my other favorite things that made me laugh.
Bo Burnham: Inside (Netflix)
Easily the special of the year, but to call it a “revelation” would be both missing the point and revealing a lack of familiarity with Burnham’s past work. His catchy songs/emotional breakdowns are nothing new. It’s just catchier and better directed than ever. Is this heaven or a white woman’s Instagram? Neither. Just a brilliant comic mind doing what he does best.
How To with John Wilson (HBO)
The second season of this delightful series doesn’t change up the formula, but finds new depths anyways. While trying to find a way to recycle his batteries in the most environmentally friendly way, he learns of the dangers sanitation workers face daily and of how municipalities treat people they view as garbage. He also tries to find contentment while trying to find a parking spot. But most fascinatingly, he reveals his connection to a dangerous cult that tried to recruit him while he was in college.
I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson (Netflix)
Somehow even more hilarious and meme-ready than its first season, Tim Robinson’s insane sketch comedy found time for disgusting meals, suicidal prank show hosts and even a bit of sweetness thanks to guest star Paul Walter Hauser.
Nate Bargatze: The Greatest Average American (Netflix)
Filmed at an outdoor venue with strict COVID protocols (and an annoying number of fly-bys from helicopters), Bargatze kicked off 2021 with a solid, clean hour that felt like a great conversation with an old friend, instead of a tightly polished performance. It was just what I needed.
The Super Bob Einstein Movie (HBO)
Bob Einstein tragically passed away in 2019, and he finally got a proper send-off from his friends and family. Really, you don’t need much more than warm remembrances and great clips from his appearances on Curb Your Enthusiasm and Super Dave.