The Television Academy published the official nomination ballots last week, with voting open now until June 24. Nominees will be announced July 16.
Let’s take a look at the category most coveted by stand-up comedians: Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded).
It’s a relatively new category, renamed last year in an attempt by the Emmys to carve out separate spaces for live events (such as the other awards telecasts for the Grammys, Oscars, Tonys) and the burgeoning group of comedy specials.
And yet, for the period running from June 1, 2018, through May 31, 2019, there’s still so much competing with comedy in this category.
Dave Chappelle won last year. Primetime editions of Carpool Karaoke with James Corden on CBS won in each of the two previous years (2016-17), and is also nominated also last year. Also back in the mix for a third year after two consecutive nominations? Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, with another Not the White House Correspondents Dinner for TBS.
But stand-ups also have to contend in this category with the likes of 2 Dope Queens, Jimmy Kimmel, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Tonight Show going to Puerto Rico, Conan going to Japan, Jena Friedman’s Soft Focus special on Adult Swim, Brian Regan’s old stand-up remixed with sketches on Netflix, the Still Laugh-In tribute on Netflix, Springsteen on Broadway, Taylor Swift, Soul Train, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions, Red Nose Day, Bill Maher’s Real Time anniversary, Quincy Jones, a Comedy Central President Show mockumentary, Paul McCartney, Cirque Du Soleil, My Dad Wrote A Porno, the MTV Movie Awards, Motown 60, the Mark Twain Prize ceremony, The Lonely Island’s Bash Brothers special, a Christmas special by John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, the Kennedy Center Honors, Beyonce, Goatface’s sketch special on Comedy Central, Garth Brooks, Cynthia Erivo, the Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis, Michael Buble, tributes to Aretha and Elvis, and George Clooney.
As for the stand-ups themselves, the total number of stand-up specials eligible is almost one per week. Which might seem like too many. And yet, Netflix had itself released 35 Emmy-eligible comedy specials two years ago. Here are the stand-up specials on your Emmy ballots. Descriptions are as printed on the ballot.
- Adam Sandler: 100% Fresh (Oct. 23, 2018, NETFLIX) From “Heroes” to “Ice Cream Ladies” — Adam Sandler’s comedy special hits you with new songs and jokes in an unexpected, groundbreaking way.
- Amanda Seales: I Be Knowin’ (Jan. 26, 2019, HBO) Comedian/actor Amanda Seales, stars in her first stand-up comedy special, taped in front of a live audience at the Edison Ballroom in New York City.
- Amy Schumer Growing (March 19, 2019, NETFLIX) Amy Schumer spills on her new marriage, personal growth, making a baby and her mom’s misguided advice in a special that’s both raunchy and sincere.
- Amy Schumer Presents: Sam Morril: Positive Influence (Sept. 14, 2018, COMEDY CENTRAL) Sam Morril points out why babies seem racist, argues that porn is more body positive than women’s magazines and recalls an awful customer service experience with an airline.
- Anthony Jeselnik: Fire In The Maternity Ward (April 30, 2019, NETFLIX) Forging his own comedic boundaries, Anthony Jeselnik revels in getting away with saying things others can’t in this stand-up special shot in New York.
- Bert Kreischer: Secret Time (Aug. 24, 2018, NETFLIX) Shirtless comic Bert Kreischer relays personal secrets and stories about being a cool — if not always responsible — dad in this stand-up special.
- Bill Burr Presents Paul Virzi: I’ll Say This (Nov. 3, 2018, COMEDY CENTRAL) Whether the topic is Donald Trump or juggling bears, immigrants or therapists, Paul Virzi not only has something to say, but a punch line to back it up.
- Bumping Mics With Jeff Ross & Dave Attell (Friday episode) (Nov. 27, 2018, NETFLIX) Jeff and Dave hit up the Comedy Cellar to rag on each other’s appearances, roast the recently deceased and rant about the effects of eating hummus.
- Chris Distefano: Size 38 Waist (Jan. 18, 2019, COMEDY CENTRAL) As a lifelong New Yorker, Chris Distefano offers a firsthand look into how the city of his rough-andtumble childhood has completely changed.
- Colin Quinn: Red State Blue State (May 27, 2019, CNN) The satirical sage from Brooklyn returns with Colin Quinn: Red State Blue State, a new comedy special, where he lays bare the absurdities, hypocrisies and calamities on both sides of the political divide. This is no witch hunt: Colin is here to own the libs, the conservs and in between.
- D.L. Hughley: Contrarian (Sept. 18, 2018, NETFLIX) D.L. Hughley riffs on hot-button political issues, celebrity scandals, his mother’s tough love and more in a rapid-fire stand-up show in Philadelphia.
- Chad Daniels: Dad Chaniels (March 25, 2019, HILLARIUM, available on AMAZON) In his sixth stand up release, Minnesotan Chad Daniels delivers a brand new hour of comedy of his unapologetic take on parenting teenagers, how America’s gone soft as a nation, his plans for growing old, and…cake.
- Daniel Sloss: Live Shows (Jigsaw) (Sept. 11, 2018, NETFLIX) Sloss tackles dad jokes, vegans, parenting, puzzling relationship patterns and the thankless task of gravesite maintenance in this love-themed special.
- Demetri Martin: The Overthinker (Aug. 10, 2018, NETFLIX) With his signature one-liners and drawings, Demetri Martin muses on doughnut holes, dogs, sports bars, the alphabet’s most aggressive letters and more.
- Drew Michael (Aug. 25, 2018, HBO) Drew Michael stars in this comedy special, which follows the comedian as he navigates his fears, anxieties and insecurities in an unconventional stand-up setting. Michael’s darkly comic, stream-ofconsciousness monologue raises questions of identity, narrative, self-awareness and the limits of the medium itself.
- Ellen DeGeneres: Relatable (Dec. 18, 2018, NETFLIX) In her first special since 2003, Ellen revisits her road to stardom and details the heartfelt — and hilarious — lessons she’s learned along the way.
- Flight Of The Conchords: Live In London (Oct. 6, 2018, HBO) New Zealand music-comedy savants Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement return with an all-new special taped before a live audience at the Eventim Apollo in London that showcases the duo’s unique ability to mix irreverent humor with clever original songs, performed on guitar, piano and other instruments.
- Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias: One Show Fits All (Jan. 29, 2019, NETFLIX) Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias discusses his teenage son and encounters with Snoop Dogg, Chris Rock and Vicente Fernández in this stand-up special for 2019.
- Hannah Gadsby: Nanette (June 19, 2018, NETFLIX) Australian comic Hannah Gadsby reshapes standard stand-up by pairing punchlines with personal revelations on gender, sexuality and childhood turmoil.
- Howie Mandel Presents Howie Mandel At The Howie Mandel Comedy Club (Jan. 18, 2019, SHOWTIME) In Howie Mandel Presents Howie Mandel At The Howie Mandel Comedy Club, Mandel’s buoyant presence embraces the old and welcomes the new with his return to the comedy special arena at the club that bears his name.
- Iliza Shlesinger: Elder Millennial (July 24, 2018, NETFLIX) Newly engaged comic Iliza Shlesinger dives into undeniable truths about life at age 35, the insanity of the road traveled and what’s to come.
- James Davis: Live From The Town (Jan. 11, 2019, COMEDY CENTRAL) James Davis rants about old people on Facebook, reveals what his professional golfing nickname would be and shares his conspiracy theory about Magic Johnson.
- Jim Gaffigan: Noble Ape (July 13, 2018, COMEDY DYNAMICS) Jim Gaffigan has made a career out of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary with his hilarious observational style. In his 6th special, he uses humor to deal with the unthinkable & proves that laughter is the best medicine…or is it?
- Jim Jefferies: This Is Me Now (July 13, 2018, NETFLIX) The gleefully irreverent Jefferies skewers “grabby” celebrities, political hypocrisy and his own ill-advised career moves in a brash stand-up special.
- Jimmy Carr: The Best Of Ultimate Gold Greatest Hits (March 12, 2019, NETFLIX) Nothing is off limits as Jimmy Carr serves up the most outrageous jokes from his stand-up career in a special that’s not for the faint of heart.
- Joe Rogan: Strange Times (Oct. 2, 2018, NETFLIX) Outspoken as ever, comedian Joe Rogan takes on current culture, pro wrestling, pot laws, cats, vegans and more in a stand-up special shot in Boston.
- John Leguizamo’s Latin History For Morons (Nov. 5, 2018, NETFLIX) In this one-man Broadway show, John Leguizamo finds humor and heartbreak as he traces 3,000 years of Latin history in an effort to help his bullied son.
- Julian McCullough: Maybe I’m A Man (June 9, 2018, COMEDY CENTRAL) Julian McCullough talks about his hippie parents, recounts an awkward encounter with a handsome Pizza Hut employee and explains his fondness for The Baby-Sitters Club.
- Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho (Feb. 14, 2019, NETFLIX) In his first-ever stand-up special, Ken Jeong pays tribute to his wife and shares stories about Hollywood and how “The Hangover” saved his life.
- Kevin Hart: Irresponsible (April 2, 2019, NETFLIX) As a father of three on his second marriage, Kevin Hart proves that being him is indeed a tall order in a fresh special inspired by his own mistakes.
- Michael Yo: Blasian (Nov. 27, 2018, COMEDY DYNAMICS) Born and raised in Houston, TX, Michael talks about the issues growing up half Black and Asian in a place where he really stood out. This special is about the beauty and complexities of family with all its ups and downs, no matter skin color, race or religion.
- Mo Amer: The Vagabond (Oct. 8, 2018, NETFLIX) Arab-American comedian Mo Amer recounts his life as a refugee comic, from traveling with the name Mohammed to his long path to citizenship.
- Nate Bargatze: The Tennessee Kid (March 26, 2019, NETFLIX) Comic Nate Bargatze touches on air travel, cheap weddings, college football, chocolate milk and the perils of ordering coffee in this stand-up special.
- Orlando Leyba: Adorable (Nov. 16, 2018, HBO) This special installment of HBO Latino’s Entre Nos comedy shows is a solo half-hour from the one and only Orlando Leyba.
- Pete Holmes: Dirty Clean (Dec. 15, 2018, HBO) “Crashing” star, Pete Holmes, stars in his special at the Aladdin Theatre in Portland, Oregon. In it, Holmes confronts personal truths about the mechanisms of consciousness, the afterlife and Elon Musk, as well as sharing a few thoughts on being a new dad.
- Ray Romano: Right Here, Around The Corner (Feb. 5, 2019, NETFLIX) Ray Romano cut his stand-up teeth at the Comedy Cellar in New York. Now, in his first comedy special in 23 years, he returns to where it all began.
- Romesh At The Greek (Just Another Immigrant) (July 27, 2018, SHOWTIME) Romesh Ranganathan, a successful comedian in England, moves his entire family to Los Angeles to pursue his lifelong dream of making it as a comedian in America. He then takes the drastic, and possibly foolish, step of performing his first ever U.S. stand-up show at the six-thousand seat Greek Theater.
- Ron Funches: Giggle Fit (Jan. 4, 2019, COMEDY CENTRAL) The charming and lovable actor/comedian Ron Funches’ stand up special features his unique take on optimism, fatherhood, autism, conspiracy theories, weight loss, reality television and so much more.
- Ron White: If You Quit Listening, I’ll Shut Up (Oct. 16, 2018, NETFLIX) Ron “Tater Salad” White dishes out his signature brand of cynicism, riffing on sex, celebrity and the sinister habits of wild geese.
- Roy Wood Jr.: No One Loves You (Jan. 25, 2019, COMEDY CENTRAL) Roy Wood Jr. explores some of today’s most complicated issues, from the plight of the black superhero to national anthem protests.
- Russell Brand: RE:BIRTH (Dec. 4, 2018, NETFLIX) Russell Brand gets loquacious in London as he ruminates on the state of the world and marvels over how his life changed the moment he became a father.
- Sebastian Maniscalco: Stay Hungry (Jan. 15, 2019, NETFLIX) Sebastian Maniscalco brings an acerbically unique approach to peacocks on planes, life hacks, rich inlaws and life’s annoyances in this comedy special.
- Trevor Noah: Son Of Patricia (Nov. 20, 2018, NETFLIX) “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah touches on tacos, runaway snakes, camping, racism immunity and lessons he learned from his mother in this comedy special.
- Vir Das: Losing It (Dec. 11, 2018, NETFLIX) The world’s got a lot of problems, but Vir Das has a lot of answers as he discusses travel, religion, his childhood and more in this stand-up special.
- W. Kamau Bell: Private School Negro (June 26, 2018, NETFLIX) Comedian W. Kamau Bell muses on parenting in the Trump era, “free speech” dustups, woke children’s TV and his fear of going off the grid.
- Wanda Sykes: Not Normal (May 21, 2019, NETFLIX) Wanda Sykes tackles politics, reality TV, racism and the secret she’d take to the grave in this rollicking, no-holds-barred stand-up special.