Comedy specials as self-care in the era of COVID-19

Netflix comedy specials that will keep you sane and have you laughing out loud


Courtesy of “Ali Wong: Hard Knock Wife” IMDB page

By Zelda Stewart, Collegian Correspondent

With our semester on campus cut short, not to mention the backdrop of a pandemic, life feels particularly strange and uncertain at this moment. As we stay home and practice social distancing, it’s important to take care of ourselves in the midst of this stressful life shift.

Watching comedy specials is one of my favorite methods of self-care. Comedy specials can take your mind off of things and can introduce you to a comedian’s unique yet relatable background and perspective. Here are some of my top picks for Netflix comedy specials that are guaranteed to make you laugh and give you an escape from all the crazy news headlines right now.

“Mr. Universe” by Jim Gaffigan

With stories about raising four kids in a two-bedroom apartment, the perils of Disney World and about going to the gym, comedian Gaffigan will become your new favorite dad. Disclaimer: you’ll never see hotels the same way again.

“Black Mitzvah” by Tiffany Haddish

Did you know that Haddish is Jewish? Me neither. She starts off her special by saying,  “On that long road to womanhood, I grew up in South Central Los Angeles and it’s a lot of lessons. A lot of lessons that I had to learn the hard way because I didn’t have no one particular person to raise me. The world raised me. And I’ve learned a lot of things. I’m here tonight to share with you. It’s my mitzvah. I’m here to teach.” Her infectious smile and hilarious anecdotes could lift anyone’s mood and her rags-to-riches success story will leave you inspired and uplifted. 

“New in Town” by John Mulaney

There are two kinds of people: those who love Mulaney, and those who haven’t yet seen Mulaney. He has three comedy specials on Netflix, but his debut special “New in Town” remains my personal favorite. His standup revolves around his ideal episode of Law & Order SVU, his vendetta against Delta Airlines and identifying as a tiger mom.

“Quarter Life Crisis” by Taylor Tomlinson

Tomlinson is here to speak to your soul about the inevitable ennui and confusion that comes with being in your 20s. From suffering through friends’ weddings and not feeling like you’re fun to hang out with, to dating a DJ yet again, she gets it.

“Son of Patricia” by Trevor Noah

In this comedy special, the hilarious South African host of “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” relays crazy stories about scary snakes in Bali, the untold origin of a catchphrase and why he never wants to go camping again.

“Sweet & Salty” by Fortune Feimster

Feimster’s Southern charm and goofy sense of humor makes this special irresistible, telling us about growing up as a gay woman in conservative North Carolina, shoulder pads, tweaking on Fun Drip and much more.

“The New One” by Mike Birbiglia

Seasoned comic Birbiglia takes us inside the long road to becoming a dad in this comedy special. He dives into why he has to wear a zip-up body bag to bed, the red-light district in Amsterdam, the sacredness of a couch and the amazing emotional journey he takes when he finally meets his daughter. It’s irreverent and heart-warming all at once. 

“Glitter Room” by Katherine Ryan

Ryan gets real about the hypocrisies imposed on women in the entertainment industry and why having a British child is like having an “ineffective butler” in her comedy special. Most importantly, however, she reminds us that in a society in which women are taught to find a partner, being a single mom can be a blessing in disguise.

“Hard Knock Wife” by Ali Wong

Last but certainly not least is Wong’s second critically acclaimed Netflix special! She levels with us by confessing, “My goal for the longest time was to be a trophy wife. But then I found out that in order to be a trophy wife, you have to be a trophy. I am more of a commemorative plaque.” Wong’s stories of the untold hardships of motherhood will amuse you regardless of whether or not you’re a parent. If you don’t already believe in paid maternity leave, you certainly will by the end of this hilarious, beautifully honest stand-up special.

Zelda Stewart can be reached at [email protected]