With Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer, Dave Chappelle, and More, Netflix Is the New King of Comedy

More and more big names are heading to the streaming giant — has it brashly snatched the comedy crown from HBO?

by | April 7, 2017 | Comments

There was a day when, if you wanted to see a big-time stand-up comedian perform new material, you went one of two places: an actual, real-life comedy club or HBO. The network had been the home to comedy ever since the days of Robert Klein and George Carlin; still-famous specials like Eddie Murphy: Delirious and Chris Rock: Bring the Pain made the premium network the place to be. In time, both Showtime and Comedy Central began showcasing stand-ups in their own specials. And until a few years ago, that was pretty much the norm.

Enter Netflix. All of a sudden, it seems like every big-time stand-up has signed a deal with the streaming service. Thanks to deep pockets and a hunger to constantly pump out original material, it’s an attractive place for comedians to ply their trade. However, it’s also a matter of availability.

“If you liked me or whomever, you would either have to know when the premiere was and set your DVR, or get home and stumble upon it,” Kathleen Madigan told TV Insider. “Netflix is on all the time; it’s like a library. It’s the ease and the accessibility and it’s literally, you demand it and it appears.”

Here are six comedians who have made a big splash with their Netflix deals and a bigger list of the streaming giant’s new and upcoming offerings.

Dave Chappelle

What and When: Three new specials, two of which, The Age of Spin and Deep in the Heart of Texas, were released simultaneously on March 21.

Why We Care: First, the big reason: It’s Chappelle’s return to specials since he walked away from Chappelle’s Show in 2005. But this also speaks to the deep pocket issue; the reported $60 million that the service paid the comedian for two specials he had in his vault and a new one that will come out at a date to be determined more than made up for the reported $50 million he sacrificed when he ended Chappelle’s Show. In the meantime, the specials show a more mature Chappelle who has spent the intervening 12 years getting back to basics, both in his life and career.

Louis C.K.

What and When: Two new specials, including 2017, which will be released on April 4.

Why We Care: Louis C.K. revolutionized the comedy world when he released one of his comedy specials direct to fans via his website, rather than go through HBO or one of the other big outlets. He got such a great response, selling the special for $5 a pop, that he ended up making money, giving him the confidence to release other material, including his series Horace and Pete, directly to his fans. But when Netflix came a-callin’, even the entrepreneurial Louie couldn’t say no to the money being thrown around. It also helps bring eyeballs to some of his previous specials, which are also on the service.

Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld at Madison Square Garden in New York 2016 (Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

What and When: Two new comedy specials, to be released in 2017, plus all episodes of his Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee series — including an all-new 10th season — which move from Crackle to Netflix.

Why We Care: It’s a supposed $100 million deal, but since Jerry is still swimming in Seinfeld money, cash wasn’t the biggest factor. According to Business Insider, it was more a matter of creative control. Jerry was tired of Crackle’s advertising model and wanted to make sure his new home was free of those restrictions. And it helps that folks like C.K., Chris Rock, and others have made Netflix their new home. Speaking of Rock…

Chris Rock

Chris Rock performs in New York 2015 (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Comedy Central)

What and When: Two new comedy specials, air dates to be determined.

Why We Care: If there’s anyone who owes his career to HBO, it’s Chris Rock; Bring the Pain resurrected his career in 1996 after he left Saturday Night Live. But it’s been eight years since his last special, and the landscape has radically changed. It’s likely not just the money — though a reported $40 million isn’t pocket change — but that he had to know that his high-profile signing would lead to buddies like Seinfeld and C.K. to join him.

Sarah Silverman

What and When: New special to be released on May 30.

Why We Care: Silverman might have been encouraged by Maria Bamford’s success on the service: Bamford’s specials and her series Lady Dynamite have both done well. Silverman’s comedy is in the same experimental vein as Bamford’s, albeit a bit more on the raunchy side, and she’s willing to play with formats and do things like film a special in a tiny comedy club. So she likely feels Netflix is a good landing spot that will expose her to a wider audience than her previous home, HBO, could.

Amy Schumer

What and When: The Leather Special, which debuted on March 17.

Why We Care: There isn’t a hotter name in comedy these days than Schumer’s, so it was news when she decided to sign with Netflix for her latest special. It also provides a wide audience for the comedian, as her new special debuted in all of the service’s 190 countries. Judging by the reviews she’s been getting, though, she might have wanted to wait a few more months to hone the material for the quickly produced special.

Patton Oswalt

What and When: His first special for the service, Talking for Clapping, was released in 2016. A new special is slated for Fall.

Why We Care: Oswalt has been at the forefront of finding new outlets for his specials, ones that will not only yield more money up front but give him more control over how the special is distributed. He was one of the first comedians, for instance, to debut a special on the Epix channel; that partnership, however, ended quickly when they didn’t air his special Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time online ahead of its TV debut, despite the promises he made his fans. In his new special, out this Fall, the comedian will examine how his life has changed since the sudden death of his wife. He told his Facebook followers that it’s “easily the most horrific 12 months I’ve had to wade through in my 48 years on the planet. And there’s a lot of …intense… stuff in this newest hour that I don’t think I’ll be able to just do again on the road for yuks and money.”

2017 Netflix Stand-up Specials


Jen Kirkman: Just Keep Livin’?

Jim Gaffigan: Cinco

Neal Brennan: 3 Mics

Cristela Alonzo: Lower Classy

Gad Elmaleh: Gad Gone Wild

Bill Burr: Walk Your Way Out


Katherine Ryan: In Trouble

Trevor Noah: Afraid of the Dark

Mike Birbiglia: Thank God for Jokes


Amy Schumer: The Leather Special

Jim Norton: Mouthful of Shame

Dave Chappelle: Deep in the Heart of Texas

Dave Chappelle: The Age of Spin

Felipe Neto: My Life Makes No Sense

Jo Koy: Live from Seattle


Louis C.K.: 2017

Kevin Hart: What Now?

Keith and Kenny Lucas: The Lucas Bros: On Drugs


Sarah Silverman

More Upcoming


Patton Oswalt

Chris Rock

Jerry Seinfeld

Tag Cloud

CMT comic books 90s Pet Sematary Box Office Podcast japan PaleyFest unscripted Epix Fargo HBO Max kaiju Rom-Com TCA Awards Funimation 93rd Oscars Mary Poppins Returns IMDb TV CNN latino comic Syfy live action TCA 2017 south america anthology Apple TV+ mcc LGBT halloween TCM Crackle politics AMC laika Tarantino Cannes scary quibi leaderboard NYCC political drama zero dark thirty Lifetime Christmas movies breaking bad BBC One christmas movies DC Universe Year in Review docuseries A&E Mary poppins Pride Month Opinion HFPA golden globes Logo DC streaming service First Reviews satire Winners spinoff Wes Anderson adventure canceled Photos Elton John 79th Golden Globes Awards ghosts black tv talk FXX cancelled television Awards Tour cancelled TV series Fall TV psycho 2016 dragons vs. DGA dramedy screen actors guild Red Carpet YouTube Premium parents Fox News Esquire toy story Disney streaming service jamie lee curtis Brie Larson Image Comics new zealand emmy awards Interview psychological thriller Pop scene in color streaming movies Tomatazos miniseries dark Warner Bros. Lucasfilm prank Country Horror popular reviews Stephen King Women's History Month New York Comic Con book war First Look TNT CBS All Access OneApp The Walt Disney Company Comedy Central ABC Signature Arrowverse mission: impossible TCA legend Family stoner Comic Book richard e. Grant Masterpiece DirecTV nbcuniversal Amazon Prime Video movie Universal Pictures razzies live event james bond toronto Grammys award winner American Society of Cinematographers remakes Universal heist movie TCA Winter 2020 travel Food Network Rocky Fox Searchlight Apple TV Plus video on demand Showtime women science fiction Awards cooking Dark Horse Comics pirates of the caribbean ABC Family Hallmark GLAAD comic book movies USA Network sitcom AMC Plus YouTube movies 4/20 fast and furious stop motion animated Emmy Nominations foreign 99% superhero FX critic resources comic book movie talk show Reality Competition VICE GoT 21st Century Fox Hear Us Out space thriller Marathons rt labs Animation Reality cancelled TV shows Shudder Best and Worst italian A24 See It Skip It El Rey rt archives obituary discovery Netflix international royal family witnail HBO comedies 24 frames Paramount Holidays Nominations The CW period drama best Creative Arts Emmys Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt hidden camera new york Anna Paquin TruTV Sony Pictures art house boxoffice Walt Disney Pictures football Shondaland venice golden globe awards hispanic Disney+ Disney Plus stand-up comedy WarnerMedia asian-american screenings Film Extras twilight batman X-Men NBC San Diego Comic-Con children's TV Set visit social media monster movies action-comedy king kong free movies Kids & Family Chernobyl Tokyo Olympics news TBS game of thrones superman ITV suspense dreamworks 72 Emmy Awards based on movie Nickelodeon blockbuster Acorn TV Black History Month die hard Tumblr king arthur Marvel Studios sag awards 20th Century Fox Amazon Studios police drama wonder woman aliens diversity Freeform Pacific Islander cartoon concert Pirates Trophy Talk documentaries Calendar Instagram Live Election critics scorecard cars Teen 71st Emmy Awards Drama facebook joker Musical historical drama true crime revenge Tags: Comedy The Academy crime drama 1990s comics Amazon YouTube Red harry potter black comedy BBC ABC PlayStation Black Mirror Schedule Winter TV RT History nature Starz BBC America young adult Summer feel good Mindy Kaling 2018 CW Seed Film Festival Watching Series franchise docudrama aapi Star Wars Britbox Trivia 2019 boxing Martial Arts FX on Hulu theme song hispanic heritage month Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Alien medical drama Lionsgate 007 strong female leads TV renewals TLC Video Games GIFs spider-verse vampires E! The Witch Character Guide spanish language Television Academy Emmys sopranos biography WGN Fantasy trophy Cartoon Network sequels Comedy sequel independent classics gangster Academy Awards rom-coms streaming Spike supernatural FOX Captain marvel Polls and Games Song of Ice and Fire Television Critics Association book adaptation films Hulu Hollywood Foreign Press Association Cosplay teaser Sneak Peek Marvel Television Discovery Channel green book child's play zombies french rotten movies we love zombie President Travel Channel MTV 73rd Emmy Awards Apple Endgame rt labs critics edition Superheroes YA indie Rock Nat Geo romance documentary Valentine's Day TV saw The Arrangement Ghostbusters Tubi disaster spider-man Premiere Dates television fresh mob scary movies marvel cinematic universe trailers casting Ovation Action target Spring TV Pop TV cats History new star wars movies Music adaptation CBS lord of the rings 2015 Classic Film singing competition SundanceTV Christmas Pixar genre TIFF Amazon Prime National Geographic Disney ESPN Super Bowl DC Comics Avengers cults Paramount Plus ViacomCBS Writers Guild of America elevated horror Legendary dc jurassic park Comic-Con@Home 2021 comiccon sports Turner Classic Movies crossover Ellie Kemper Sundance series deadpool Holiday Prime Video Western Broadway 2017 blaxploitation worst anime 2020 RT21 spy thriller Mary Tyler Moore technology Superheroe spain ID IFC Sci-Fi Hallmark Christmas movies know your critic SDCC composers werewolf all-time transformers binge romantic comedy LGBTQ Marvel VH1 mockumentary Lifetime Infographic kong canceled TV shows Disney Plus Spectrum Originals Baby Yoda marvel comics Crunchyroll adenture festivals BAFTA Turner worst movies Oscars ratings a nightmare on elm street mutant robots reboot 45 Binge Guide debate name the review slasher hist halloween tv directors Sundance Now serial killer what to watch cops USA Toys APB archives Star Trek kids chucky TV Land The Walking Dead Netflix Christmas movies PBS justice league cancelled cinemax Peacock finale IFC Films Vudu Quiz Musicals festival Comics on TV olympics versus posters Thanksgiving indiana jones Columbia Pictures Sundance TV Biopics Rocketman Neflix high school video game show japanese criterion 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards 2021 VOD MCU Exclusive Video spanish HBO Go Certified Fresh E3 crime thriller crime The Purge BET hollywood doctor who TV One Adult Swim Paramount Network biopic NBA dceu nfl Mudbound australia telelvision Disney Channel dexter Mystery natural history basketball rotten Heroines renewed TV shows TV movies dogs godzilla BET Awards SXSW slashers Countdown universal monsters blockbusters OWN Bravo Trailer MSNBC