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May 16 2017
by Kamrin Baker

8 Stand-Up Specials on Netflix To Keep You Sane in College

By Kamrin Baker - May 16 2017
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Life is hard. College is especially hard. You have a heavier workload than you ever have before, your RA is breathing down your neck to get you to socialize with the other students on your floor (I can say this. I'm an RA.), you're trying to afford living, breathing and consuming food. Worst of all, you can hardly find time to enjoy any of the simple pleasures in life.

Whether you have neglected your monthly pedicure appointment, haven't managed to throw the ole' pigskin with your buds or are outrageously behind on binging "Shameless," you haven't acknowledged your basic wants, desires and relaxation techniques in a while. Even though a lot of people are done with finals, carving out time for yourself is still hard with move-outs, summer internships and the constant preparation for the next semester.

Enter my solution: Netflix stand-up specials. There is an overwhelming amount of amazing comedy on the internet, and when you watch stand-up, you rarely have to pay real visual attention. Of course, a lot of comedians use awesome nonverbal cues, but if you're insanely busy, this is still a way to multitask and laugh in the process, or to siphon off an hour of your day to giggle with Aziz Ansari.

In one of my communication classes last semester, I learned that comedy comes from two places: when an audience feels superior and when an audience is surprised. So we laugh because we're better when someone catastrophically falls on stage, but we also laugh because we usually don't expect what comedians will say or do. 

I've watched a variety of stand-up specials and awkwardly laugh at everything, so I'm kind of an expert in this department. Get your search tab open on Netflix, charge up your laptop, expect the unexpected and let's get started.

1. "2017," Louis C.K.

If you thought 2016 was a joke, buckle up. Louis C.K. stand-up is not for the faint of heart, however. If you can handle dead baby jokes, showers of expletives and incessant reference to genitalia, you're gonna love this. I'm a known potty-mouth, so I'm a fan of C.K.'s work, but if "2017" gets to be too much, he voices the main dog in "Secret Life of Pets," as well. All good content. 


2. "New in Town," John Mulaney

Mulaney is best-known for his writing skills on "Saturday Night Live," but his stand-up is a beautiful extension of that talent. Mulaney is more family-friendly than C.K. but still ridiculously funny. I quote this special to myself in numerous life situations and I hear his voice in my head every time. This is a great special to start with because it is versatile, welcoming and perfectly written. Save us all, John Mulaney. And hit me up with some tour tickets pretty please.


3. "Just Keep Livin?" Jen Kirkman

Jen Kirkman is a walking, talking life of the party. Female comedians are always incredible (except maybe Amy Schumer), but Kirkman connected with me on such a realistic, hilarious level. Her charisma is constantly present on-screen and I really admire her decision-making. You'll see. 


4. "Micheal Che Matters," Michael Che

Che rocks his "SNL" role on "Weekend Update," but when I found out he has a stand-up special, I dropped everything I was doing to watch. While he isn't on the same level as Mulaney and C.K. just yet, his commentary is bold, playful and truthful. I also love how his audience is placed in this special, because he isn't so much preaching to the viewers than he is engaging with them. Props to you, Che!


5. "Thank God For Jokes," Mike Birbiglia

I've seen all of Birbiglia's stand-up, and I also enjoy saying his name, so I knew his most recent production would be a home-run. Birbiglia is equal parts gifted joke-teller and very nice father figure, and you might remember seeing him in "The Fault in Our Stars" many moons ago. His comedy is vulnerable yet hysterical, and you need it in your life.


6. "In Trouble," Katherine Ryan

Ryan is a laugh riot, and her dress in this special is the cutest thing. I want her personality and her sense of style, but I also want to watch her do her thing forever. Ryan is an extremely gifted comedian, but she also just seems like a really cool person. BTW, the last segment is the best, so get excited and have the vet on speed dial. 


7. "Afraid of the Dark," Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah is a beast at comedic political commentary (and shutting Tomi Lahren the hell up), but his stand-up should be noted, too. While Noah makes important and honest remarks about societies around the world, he makes it hilarious, as well. He's also just super cute and I want to hug him and listen to him laugh all the time.


8. "Buried Alive," Aziz Ansari

Aziz Ansari might be the face of treating yo'self, but he's also a brilliant writer. If you didn't get a good taste of his comedic timing on "Parks and Recreation," get on that train with his stand-up. He is smart and witty, and his voice is the perfect voice for all the things he says. And if you love it, season two of his very own show, "Master of None," just popped up on the new listings, as well. Bless you, Aziz. Please make us pasta.

I hope I have gathered some titles to reach a wide range of personalities and will reach out to every possible sense of humor. I'm going to do some more comedy studying and watch 8 million more of these hour-long laugh marathons. See you on the other side!

Lead Image Credit: Netflix

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Kamrin Baker - University of Nebraska Omaha

University of Nebraska-Omaha 2020. Journalism & Media Communications major. Contributor with Oh Tiny Heart and the UNO Gateway Newspaper. Dog mom. Devout mozzarella stick lover. Instagram (@kamstagrams) addict. High-strung, but happy to be here. (And @thekamrinbaker on Twitter.)

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