2016: The year we doubled the number of stand-up comedy specials. 2017: Doubling again?

If you’re wondering why I haven’t gotten back to you about your stand-up comedy album, then please allow me to remind you just what kind of comedy boom you’re a part of these days.

In 2015, TV networks and streaming services produced 44 stand-up hours (or specials). That seemed like a lot.

In 2016, that number jumped to 85.

So far in 2017, we’ve already heard about or seen 29 specials coming out this year for our collective viewing pleasure (not including the Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, and Dave Chappelle deals, which brings that number up to 34). And it’s only Feb. 24!

What’s behind this aspect of the comedy boom? As with everything else, it’s all digital. Seeso, the NBCUniversal-owned comedy streaming service, launched in January 2016, and ramped up its stand-up output mostly in the final three months of last year with a “Streaming Stand-Up Festival.” So far this year, they’re averaging two new specials per month. Netflix, meanwhile, not only has poached, recruited and otherwise lured every big-name A-list stand-up and convinced them to put out a new special in 2017, with at least one coming out each week. That’s not even including the several Mexican and European hours of comedy from stand-ups now showing up in my emails and my queue from Netflix.

Netflix alone is producing more stand-up comedy specials last year and this year than Comedy Central seemingly has ever done.

Not that Comedy Central has stopped being relevant. In 2016, they broadcast one-of-a-kind specials such as Jeff Ross Roasts Cops or The Comedy Jam, as well as several showcases for comedians, including Hart of the City, This is Not Happening, The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail, Jeff Ross Presents Roast Battle, and Adam Devine’s House Party.

There’s also multiple players in the game you never saw coming, in addition to old veterans, from HBO and Showtime, to EPIX, Vimeo, YouTube, Facebook Live, VHX, Gumroad and independent releases from the likes of LouisCK.net and ChristopherTitus.com.

And speaking of all digital, All Def Digital produced a few half-hour comedy specials last year — one for HBO, and the others for Seeso. Netflix produced and distributed eight half-hour specials featuring sketch comedy players called The Characters. And Comedy Central gave out 17 episodes in 2016 for The Half Hour.

Of course, Kevin Hart had them all beat in terms of size, putting out his 2016 special (What Now?) as a concert film produced in a football stadium.


You know the stand-up special boom has gotten big enough when it prompts me to finally write up my first Best Of 2016 rankings (which you can see and yell at me about on Decider).

Here’s a chronological run-down, by platform/network, of who put out what in stand-up comedy specials in 2016:


  1. Kira Soltanovich
  2. Jimmy Failla

Comedy Central

  1. Nikki Glaser
  2. Daniel Tosh
  3. Rachel Feinstein
  4. Chris Hardwick
  5. Dan Soder
  6. Big Jay Oakerson
  7. Deon Cole
  8. Lewis Black
  9. Kyle Kinane
  10. Pete Davidson
  11. Jeff Ross Roasts Cops
  12. The (G-d) Comedy Jam


  1. Christopher Titus


  1. Michael Ian Black
  2. Wanda Sykes
  3. Tom Papa


  1. Bill Maher


  1. Luke Capasso


  1. Whitney Cummings
  2. Quincy Jones
  3. Pete Holmes


  1. Josh Blue


  1. Barry Crimmins

Netflix (Originals plus ones sold to Netflix from outside production)

  1. Tom Segura
  2. Tony Hinchcliffe
  3. Hannibal Buress
  4. Theo Von
  5. Jimmy Carr
  6. Patton Oswalt
  7. Gary Gulman
  8. Ali Wong
  9. Bo Burnham
  10. Pete Johansson
  11. Willie Barcena
  12. Jim Jefferies
  13. Dwayne Perkins
  14. David Cross
  15. Jeff Foxworthy & Larry the Cable Guy
  16. Cedric the Entertainer
  17. Iliza Shlesinger
  18. Russell Peters
  19. Joe Rogan
  20. Dana Carvey
  21. Kathleen Madigan
  22. Colin Quinn
  23. Michael Che
  24. Reggie Watts
  25. Gabriel Iglesias


  1. Matt Besser
  2. Rory Scovel
  3. Cameron Esposito
  4. Brian Posehn
  5. Doug Stanhope
  6. Jena Friedman
  7. Janeane Garofalo
  8. Mo Mandel
  9. Dan Levy
  10. Aries Spears
  11. Joe Matarese
  12. Lachlan Patterson
  13. Joey Diaz
  14. Nick Thune
  15. Ian Harvie
  16. Laurie Kilmartin


  1. Alonzo Bodden
  2. Steve-O
  3. W. Kamau Bell
  4. Brad Williams
  5. Ben Gleib
  6. Godfrey
  7. Martin Lawrence
  8. Sebastian Maniscalco
  9. Bert Kreischer
  10. Tony Roberts


  1. Ben Bailey
  2. Jim Florentine


  1. Stephen Lynch
  2. Garfunkel and Oates
  3. Henry Phillips
  4. Loyiso Gola
  5. Wes Barker


  1. Brendon Burns


Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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