Ten days have passed since Juneteenth – a holiday to celebrate the emancipation of American slaves – and what better way to (belatedly) celebrate than supporting black artists. So, I have compiled a list of the top five black comedians I watched on Netflix these past few days. A quick disclaimer though, I am American, so it’s Netflix US. Now go enjoy a laugh, giggle and chuckle.
5. Chris Rock Tamborine
Chris Rock’s special was released onto Netflix in 2018 but has some scary relevance to today. All of his jokes surrounding equality and a black man’s relationships with the police are spot on. His best content comes from discussing political agitations, especially his jokes about getting his children ready for the white man. Some of his jokes were not my favorite— particularly in the last third of the show when he reviews his divorce and discusses relationships and infidelity. Rock was very, very candid which I appreciated, but some of his stories were kind of sad. Regardless, his vulnerability is valued, and he has learned lessons along the way that result in a positive outcome.
4. Dave Chappelle The Age of Spin: Dave Chappelle Live at The Hollywood Palladium
Dave Chappelle’s return to comedy after a decade covers quite a lot, in both heavy and hilarious moments, balancing tough subjects like racial inequities in America and police brutality with things like the Care Bears. This special is definitely for those who prefer edgy humor. Like, if you were watching with friends, you might be glancing around nervously to see if others are laughing, because although funny, at times Chappelle seems somewhat out of touch. Throughout the special, Chappelle takes the audience through his multiple encounters with O.J. Simpson, including clever commentaries along the way, reflecting on Bill Cosby, Making of a Murderer, and more. As Chappelle jokes up front (a fitting disclaimer for the entire show), ‘ladies and gentlemen, man the fuck up or you’re not gonna make it through the end of this show.’
3. Wanda Sykes Not Normal
Not one to dance around subjects, Wanda Sykes’ special is a straight to the point critique on the state of the world. Sykes creatively balances the personal and the political in her jokes, poking fun at her woes of going through menopause and then fiercely raging at life under Trump. Although this wasn’t my favorite special on this list, I think if you are going to pick one show to watch it should be this one. At this moment in history, this special could do us all some good to watch, as Sykes expounds on race relations, such as the importance of having a black friend, and gives her thoughts on problems with how black people are portrayed, joking that they need a better publicist. Besides her political content, Sykes’ energetic mannerisms and impersonations of her French family will have you slapping those knees.
2. Trevor Noah Son of Patricia
The main themes running through Trevor Noah’s light hearted but thoughtful special are on racism and immigration, but he also intersperses upbeat and quirky tales that lighten the mood and take us through his time in Bali, trap music, language barriers, and more, to make this special both funny and unconventional. Although Noah is definitely one of the least raunchy and provocative on this list, his best content comes from his sociopolitical jokes. He explores the politics behind the N-word and dissects the differences between American and South African racism, and tops it all off with a dig at Kanye West. Dynamic, confident, and intelligent— Noah’s special will not disappoint.
1. Tiffany Haddish Black Mitzvah
You fool. Why have you not watched Tiffany Haddish’s Black Mitzvah yet? From the opening musical number to her impersonation of a lazy stripper, this special will keep you entertained. It is not quite as clever as the other stand-up specials; there’s no repetition or anything, that I have noticed in the other shows, but Haddish doesn’t need it. She has so many bewildering, hard to believe stories that keep the audience laughing. Haddish doesn’t go into much political or heavy content except for a few quick thoughts on religion and depression; instead she keeps it light hearted and absurd. But that’s not to say that we shouldn’t take her seriously. Haddish reveals her incredible success story— overcoming homelessness three times, raising herself, and more, and somehow weaves that into lessons she is here to ‘teach,’ such as not to put ‘mayonnaise on your pussy.’
Here are links to Netflix’s pages devoted to Black Lives Matter and Black Comedy Icons: