Netflix has been giving us outstanding hour-long standup specials from the likes of Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle and Sarah Silverman. Now it’s time to hear from comics who might not be widely known across the country, and hear what they have to say. That’s the fundamental premise of the new Netflix series “The Standups,” which is both original and hysterical. The show is a series of standup routines from six up-and-coming talents in the Los Angeles comedy scene.
Even if you consider yourself a fan of comedy, you probably haven’t heard of all six of these Netflix comics – Nate Bargatze, Fortune Feimster, Deon Cole, Nikki Glaser, Beth Stelling and Dan Soder. Some of them have appeared on the big late-night comedy shows (Deon Cole, for example, often appears on “Conan”), and many of them have popular YouTube clips that have racked up tens of thousands of views online. But they still aren’t household names.
And that’s what makes this series so original – you’re exposing yourself to fresh voices to get fresh takes on issues that more mainstream comics might not cover. And these comics are fearless about describing themselves. Nikki Glaser, for example, is a beautiful blonde comic who loves to talk about her bad sex life and all the foibles of modern online dating. Dan Soder describes himself as a “33-year-old pothead.” And Fortune Feimster jokes about the strange attraction of fried chicken and biscuits for her overweight friends in the LGBT community.
“The Standups” really shines when you compare it to Showtime’s new series, “I’m Dying Up Here.” That Showtime series, produced by Jim Carrey, covers the LA comedy scene during the 1970s, trying to recreate the same magic that helped to launch the careers of Jay Leno, David Letterman, Richard Pryor, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal. The action that takes place in “I’m Dying Up Here” is based on a real comedy legend – The Comedy Store in Los Angeles. This show should be funny – but it’s not nearly as hysterical as seeing 6 comics on stage for the full time.
“The Standups” is not a Netflix series as much as it is just a series of standup routines from emerging LA comics. As a result, it’s much more in the vein of Comedy Central’s “The Half Hour,” which also featured 30-minute routines from top comics. You see, Netflix is not trying to do too much here – it’s not trying to tell some big back story and it’s not trying to give you a big, dramatic series. All that Netflix is doing is giving you six very hot new comics, and letting you experience them first-hand, just as if you were in the audience.
And there are plans to offer up plenty more. Netflix refers to this as a “first batch,” so if this first “Standups” does well, it’s conceivable that Netflix will follow up with even more standup comedy acts.
What’s great about “The Standups” is how diverse all the comics are. You can really pick and choose your favorites. You’re not getting the same type of comedian, over and over again. Instead, all six of these comedians are really fresh and inventive.
Deon Cole, in particular, really stands out. He’s probably the one comic that has the most national name recognition, and he loves to riff on black culture. He has jokes about “food racism” and talks about funny topics like “black Band-Aids.”
And if you want jokes about lesbians and the LGBT community, you’ve got to check out Fortune Feimster. She jokes that there’s “a long road to equality,” and she wants to make sure that she has her fried chicken, even if it comes from a place like Chick-Fil-A.
Nikki Glaser is also a comic worth checking out, mostly for the boldness of her sexual talk. You’ve never heard a female comic describe so many embarrassing sexual situations and just how “bad” she is at sex. She talks about sex from a woman’s perspective, and it all seems so fresh and inventive.
What it all adds up to is a lot of diversity and choice. You might not binge-watch “The Standups” the way you would other Netflix series, but you certainly have that option. Each comic routine seems to flow into the next one. You might not intend to binge-watch, but you might not be able to stop yourself.
Most likely, you’ve seen the Dave Chappelle one-hour comedy special on Netflix. Or, you’ve seen the one-hour comedy special with Louis C.K. You might assume that these comics somehow skyrocketed to notoriety and fame, capable of commanding a hefty fee for a one-hour comedy special. But they both started out small in the tiny comedy clubs across the nation where true talent is eventually discovered.
And that’s what this Netflix comedy series reminds us – even the biggest comics started out small. And they told us personal stories about their lives that were just so comedic. Just as Dave Chappelle loved to joke about weed, we now have comics in this Netflix series joking about marijuana – Fortune Feimster jokes about edible marijuana and Dan Soder has made pot a cornerstone of his standup routine.
As a result, “The Standups” just seems so fresh. You might not recognize their faces, but you will recognize their stories. And you’ll appreciate their true talent – the talent to land the right punch line at just the right time for live audiences.
In short, Netflix’s “The Standups” is original and hysterical. It’s laugh out loud funny, and the shorter 30-minute format for each comic is wonderfully retro. After all those one-hour comedy specials on Netflix, this series just feels so fresh and original. If you’re looking to discover the next big comics to come out of the vibrant Los Angeles comedy scene, you’ve got to watch Netflix’s “The Standups.”