Ramy Youssef, Taylor Tomlinson, Dusty Slay.

The 10 Best Comedy Specials of 2024 (So Far)

Ramy Youssef, Taylor Tomlinson & Dusty Slay. Courtesy of HBO & Netflix.

It’s crazy to think that we’re now exactly halfway through 2024, a year that’s been pretty significant & great for stand-up comedy so far thanks in part to this year’s slate of comedy specials. From traditional club & theater shot specials, to hit broadway one-man shows, and even chaotic concept specials like one shot at a high school for an audience of 15 year old boys - this year truly has featured so much variety, creativity, fantastic storytelling & best of all, an abundant amount of contagious laughs.

If you’re looking for a catch-up or need help deciding which stand-up special you need to watch next, we’ve got you covered. The 800 Pound Gorilla News Staff has compiled a wide ranging list of 10 of the best stand-up comedy specials of 2024 (so far) in no particular order that will keep you entertained for the long Fourth of July holiday weekend, a night in or some long flights ahead. Please enjoy & feel free to leave a comment below for which one(s) you loved the most!

Fern Brady: Autistic Bikini Queen

While Fern Brady may be a relatively new name to Americans, the fact of the matter is that the Scottish comedian has been performing for nearly 15 years, after originally setting out to be a journalist. She’s built up a big name for herself in the U.K., and this year, it feels like Brady finally got the exposure she needed in the States. That’s because she came out with her latest Netflix special, Autistic Bikini Queen. This is actually her third special overall, behind Male Comedienne and Power & Chaos (which is streaming for free on 800 Pound Gorilla's YouTube channel & is also available as an album here). In the special, she talks about how real life dating is different from rom-coms and living in London. But as the title suggests, Brady gets even more personal when she discloses her 2021 Autism diagnosis onstage. Despite talking about being nervous to talk about it onstage, she masterfully finds a way to turn it into comedy. In one bit, she talks about how someone told her it’s like having a superpower. She then imagines how this would impact other superheroes. As far as specials go, Brady makes it clear that she is definitely a comic to keep an eye on. We can’t wait to see how she manages to further break out in America.

Chappelle’s Home Team Presents - Donnell Rawlings: A New Day

Donnell Rawlings has been in the stand-up game for over 30 years now. Whether you know him as a stand-up or his work from Chappelle’s Show, you definitely have seen Rawlings at one point or another. This year, Rawlings came out with a new special, titled A New Day, that was produced by Dave Chappelle. The special shows off the knack Rawlings has for being able to command a room with his high-energy demeanor, which is blended nicely with his signature well-dressed suit. Rawlings kicks things off with a song, singing, “And I’m feeling good!” He follows this up with, “Because I ain’t ashy no more!” Rawlings also talks about dating and co-parenting his son. He packs so much material into 30 minutes, but more than anything else, you get a real sense of what it’s like to see Rawlings live. That’s a rarity in stand-up specials, where the live magic can be captured on tape. But Rawlings manages to make that happen here.

Dusty Slay: Workin’ Man

“We’re havin’ a good time,” Dusty Slay assures his audience. In his debut stand-up hour - Workin’ Man on Netflix - Slay is perhaps the most relaxed man in the room. His persona is built upon that vibe, but despite his laid back approach to stand-up, you’d be amazed at how quickly he can hit you with jokes. He opens his special by declaring, “It is great to be here. Best job I’ve ever had. I mean I will quit it if I find a better one.” Onstage, Slay talks about anything and everything from working as a pesticide salesman, weed dispensaries, a TedTalk he did at Zanies, and recounting various other jobs he’s had over the years. Despite Slay being the one onstage with a microphone, you can’t help but feel as if you’re engaging with an old friend when you watch his special. There’s an everyman quality to Slay’s comedy, all whilst being a joke firing machine. His stories are something that everyone can relate to, as we’ve all been stuck in a job at one point or another that we despised. It’s just that Slay finds a way to make even the most trivial of jobs funny.

Keith Robinson: Different Strokes

New York comic Keith Robinson is held with the highest regard in the comedy scene for being a comic’s comic. Most notably, he’s Kevin Hart’s comic, who refers to Robinson as his “old head & mentor” dating back to the late nineties as mentioned during Hart’s Mark Twain Prize Ceremony this past May on Netflix. Between then and now, Robinson suffered not one, but two strokes - hence why his brilliant new Netflix special is poignantly named Different Strokes. In this epic comedy special return following 2014’s Hart presented hour, Back of the Bus Funny, Robinson makes this whole hour an exceptional & outstanding storytelling experience that only he can make as funny & downright hilarious as it is. An hour filled with plenty of self-deprecating post-strokes jokes including his experience ordering at Popeye’s, his missed face punching opportunity regrets, and even the new nickname his friend Chris Rock gave him one night at the Comedy Cellar. These jokes you’ll have to watch for yourself to get the full experience of Robinson’s impeccable timing.

Ramy Youssef: More Feelings

Ramy Youssef has his millennial leaning audience dialed in & connected in a way that couldn’t be more visibly & impressively seen in this solidly paced stand-up special. In this lauded follow up to 2019’s Feelings appropriately titled More Feelings, Youssef puts his laid-back, casual & confident style on display as he takes this hour to humanize current events while also being intensely funny. His performance here is reminiscent of similar stylings like Aziz Ansari & Hasan Minhaj, in which they all are so likable through the way they make themselves relatable & down-to-earth. It’s one of Youssef’s strengths that he also shares with those two where he can easily flip the switch from performing a bit in a funny voice to bringing it down to a quiet voice for a second when relaying a serious topic. One of the most notable stories from this special was the book report he wrote about Gandhi in the eleventh hour in grade school, a story told so well that it changed the course of his life for the better.

Alex Edelman: Just For Us

In his latest one man show Just For Us, Alex Edelman recalls the insane encounter he has with a group of White Nationalists in a Queens apartment that spawned from a anti-semitic tweet he saw online & his sheer curiosity to be around people different from him. Unlike traditional comedy specials, this special for HBO is a nearly 90 minute one man show purely dedicated to this singular story that’s so excellently executed. What’s so amazing about this special is the masterful skill Edelman has for painting a picture & laying a scene of the land around this story. Not a single phrase, detail or beat is wasted by Edelman when setting up each punchline & joke (and it shows). Before wrapping it’s massively successful run ahead of its premiere on HBO this past April, this show started in 2018 at the Soho Theatre in London where he would then continue perfecting & tightening this show for the next five years all the way to its final Broadway run for this special taping last year at the Hudson Theatre in New York. Edelman is a brilliant storyteller & performer, and you would be foolish not to give this fantastic show a watch.

Dan Licata: For The Boys

Imagine what it would be like if you could watch Napoleon Dynamite & the Netflix satirical mocu-series American Vandal combined with stand-up. These two hilariously off the wall & fourth wall breaking comedy programs (with a hint of Tony Hawk Pro Skater) packaged into a chaotically great stand-up special is what we get with Dan Licata’s For The Boys. The breakout stand-up special was shot at Licata’s alma mater high school for a room full of 15 year old boys. This solid hour is full of jokes for everyone (especially for the boys) whether the room gets his two decade old references or his callbacks to teachers & substitutes in his day while being delivered with his Jackass-like persona. This unique special is interwoven with cutaways of Licata attempting to “inspire” these teenagers that add to the narrative of the special rather than distract. Before releasing For The Boys, Licata is best known for his collaborations with Joe Pera on his show Joe Pera Talks With You & for his brilliant writing on Saturday Night Live seasons 45 & 46 (2019-2021).

Neal Brennan: Crazy Good

Neal Brennan finds you have to be crazy to be great at anything. The tortured artist trope extends to all professions. Brennan asserts all the greats are psychopaths and drug addicts. Crazy Good comments on the current state of our society, including women’s instagram, which is just filled with “beautiful underdogs.” But what Brennan says they don’t understand is that no one is thinking about anyone but themselves. Brennan starts off the special by impersonating the different online personalities through a smartphone overlay, making the impressions even more convincing. With the recent attention towards the mental health of athletes, Brennan is here to stand against it. “You know what I call an athlete with good mental health…an assistant coach,” jokes Brennan. The longtime comedian says what we were all thinking after watching the pandemic hit documentary on Michael Jordan, The Last Dance, there is no way he is mentally well. Brennan co-created-and co-wrote The Chappelle Show alongside Dave Chappelle for which he was nominated for 4 Emmys. Brennan has also written for the likes of Seth Meyers, Aziz Ansari, Trevor Noah, Moshe Kasher, and more. Crazy Good is his third Netflix special and fourth hour long special. Brennan is very open about his struggles with depression which he expands on in his special 3 Mics, where at each mic he does a different style of comedy, and Blocks, where the blocks on the stage wall represent each joke and segment of his hour. In his latest Crazy Good special, Brennan strips all that away to deliver his hilarious but true takes on the world.

Sal Vulcano: Terrified

Sal Vulcano has the audience erupting with laughter throughout his debut special Terrified. Vulcano is best known for his work on the quintessential hidden-camera prank show, Impractical Jokers, which returns for an eleventh season on TBS this summer. While some of his Jokers guest stars have put out stand-up specials, Vulcano had yet to release a full length comedy special. In his breakout special, Terrified, the Impractical Joker brings us back in time to his childhood in the 80s and his very real fear that the rhythm was gonna get him. Vulcano is not afraid to cover controversial topics, like if continental breakfast is really all that good and how the tooth fairy is really a nightmare scenario for many anxious six year olds. Vulcano’s explosive performance has you cackling alongside him as you reminisce on the good ol’ days when the tooth fairy was your biggest concern. Terrified is also available to purchase as an ad free experience on 800 Pound Gorilla!

Taylor Tomlinson: Have It All

Taylor Tomlinson returned to Netflix with her third hysterical special, Have It All. Tomlinson, who started out very young in the comedy world, broke out with her debut Netflix apecial Quarter-Life Crisis. Tomlinson brought the same energy and relatability for Have It All, making it one of by far the best comedy specials of the year. Her vulnerability about mental health, her inner debates, and admitting that no one wants anyone to Have It all. But if they do, “I’d prefer they were an orphan,” says Tomlinson. The 2022 winner of the Just For Laughs award for Breakout Comedy Star of the Year shared how she found out she was bipolar in her sophomore netflix special, Look At You. Tomlinson’s vulnerability is only extended to Have It All cementing her as one of the greats. Tomlinson is also currently hosting the hilarious late night show After Midnight, in which comedians “compete” to make the quickest and funniest responses to Tomlinson’s prompts. Have It All makes us laugh at our own failures in life while helping us realize we are not alone in them. 

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