The 12 Best Female Comics on Netflix


Collage created by Grace Pizzini

Grace Pizzini


I feel the need to add this disclaimer because the content of this article could potentially be age inappropriate. In this article I review 12 female comedians and some of their specials. To my knowledge, all of the specials I review in this article are rated TV-MA (meaning: this program is specifically designed to be viewed by adults and may be unsuitable for those under 17 years old). Because of this it is heavily recommended that you follow the recommended course of action: ask your parent before viewing age inappropriate material, have your parent view the content to see if they approve it, view the content with a parent. After viewing approximately 41 female comedy specials for this project, I can say with confidence that most specials discuss sex, anatomy, drugs, alcohol, and other adult content in graphic detail. That being said, the TV-MA rating covers a wide spectrum of content intended for adult viewing and just because one piece contains a certain set of inappropriate topics doesn’t mean that another piece with the same rating covers those same topics with the same level of thoroughness. Please assume that each of the following specials discuss sex, anatomy, drugs, alcohol, and other adult content in graphic detail unless I explicitly state otherwise. Additionally, the adult content discussed in these specials and the extent to which they are graphically discussed may be fine for you and your family but it may not be fine for other family members or friends you may wish to view this with. Please be cognisant of other people’s tastes, experiences, and boundaries when choosing to view any of these comedies (and any age inappropriate material) with people other than you and your parents. 


For this project I set out to watch every female comedy special on Netflix and review my ten most favorite. I decided to review twelve (fifteen if you count really hard) because I am weak and ‘too nice’. I ended up viewing approximately forty specials (some were omitted because their original language was not English) over the course of 1-2 and a half months. One of the things I learned from doing this project is that all of these comedians discussed pretty much the same ballpark of topics (sexuality, dating, family, pregnancy/motherhood, and identity) with very little variation. But each woman’s story about her trials and tribulations with each of these motifs makes each special entertaining and unique. It reminded me how we as women are all connected by fundamental human experiences and that we are all made special by how and why we handle them. It’s hard to remember how connected we are while being physically separated in isolation. I was also reminded of comedy’s unique ability to bring people together in acceptance and understand underrepresented groups. There’s something about someone bearing their soul with a side of jokes that opens us up to a want of understanding. In times like this it is very important that we open ourselves up and recognize that, although we may never understand, we will empathize and show support. Consuming art created by underrepresented groups not only increases sympathy for these groups, it increases representation and appreciation for these groups as well. Now, without further ado, my twelve favorite female comics on Netflix and their specials 🙂


Joke Show – Michelle Wolf 

I have met a lot of women who sound like Michelle Wolf but I’ve never experienced a standup special quite like her Joke Show. Her demeanor is very aggressive and loud as she explores topics ranging from animals to abortion and anatomy to feminisim, but keeps her hot takes playful and palatable through her downright hilarious comedy. Her explicit openness and boundless exploration of these topics cause her to come off as vulgar, but she mixes in enough lighthearted jokes and stories to balance it out. Using her voice, she often takes a step back to make more grounded comments and take some time to laugh at herself and not take things too seriously—as should you if you decide to watch this special. Her switches from aggressive passion to more servile submission allow her opinions to be delivered comedically while not negating their integrity. Overall, this special is hilarious and had me laughing out loud throughout and would be great to watch alone or with friends—as long as they can take a joke!


Growing – Amy Schumer
I wasn’t coming in with especially high expectations for either of the Amy Schumer specials I viewed during this project, but I was pleasantly surprised by both. In Growing, Schumer discusses her new pregnancy and marriage but reminds us that these things haven’t changed her fun-loving, raunchy comedy. She balances out the vulgar jokes with moments of vulnerability as she discusses her husband, fighting for women’s rights, and her fears. She reminds audiences that change brings growth and should be welcomed and that our differences make us unique. Her delivery is classic to her candid, fearless style seen in her Leather Special. Speaking of the Leather Special, if you have already watched Growing, the Leather Special is quite similar in style but with different topics since it was taped two years before Growing. Overall, this would be a fun special to watch with your friends because it’s super fun yet reminds us that through these hard times we are all growing. 


Trying to be Special – Garfunkel (Riki Lindhome) and Oates (Kate Micucci) 

I can confidently say that there is no other special quite like Garfunkel and Oates’ Trying to be Special. This special consists of fun original songs played on an acoustic guitar and a ukelele about the usual female standup topics: sex, dating, female sexuality, and aging. These two women do an amazing job discussing their subject matter through folksy original songs that are so charming and palatable that I would be comfortable watching this special with my mom. Make no mistake, palatable does not equal watered down and childish.
The duo balance out the more vulgar aspects of the topics they discuss with the fast pace and fun, innocent, and playful tone of their songs. I would highly recommend watching this one with some friends or family because it is super fun and relatable for people of all different ages. The only thing more hilarious than the jokes, when it comes to this special, are the reactions of those around you. 


Uganda be Kidding Me – Chelsea Handler

There is probably no comedy on this list more inappropriate than Chelsea Handler’s Uganda be Kidding Me. That being said, no comedy special, male or female, has ever made me laugh more than this one. In this special, Handler recounts her trip to Uganda with her sister and closest friends as well as the woes of her regularly scheduled travel. She also talks about the day to day thoughts, observations, and hot takes that all female comics inevitably address in their specials. If you count up the minutes that she is talking about the usual R rated topics, it would probably be the same amount of time as any other comedy on this list. However, she does include pictures that contain nudity and holds nothing back when discussing these topics. Her candidness is a part of her comedic charm and is part of what sets her apart and what makes her especially funny. She is fearless in her delivery yet incredibly self aware and confident. She sounds like your funny friend who uses Ms. Hackmeyer’s vocab words for comedic effect and it actually works and they don’t come off as snobby. In addition to her X rated subject matter, she also talks about embarrassing and potentially shameful moments in her life, but you don’t feel bad for her because she owns it as something that makes her, her. She talks about these things, as well as potentially risky and offensive observations, in a matter that is so casual yet passionate that it feels like she’s your friend ranting to you during a sleepover at 4 am. I had to watch this special twice for this project and both viewings had me rolling it was so hilarious. I personally would never bring this within twenty feet of a parent because of how vulgar it is. However, I would watch this with my closest friends (you should too if they’re cool with it) or even alone again. Overall, this special is genuinely fantastic and will have you laughing throughout. 


Happy to be Here – Tig Notaro

Happy to be Here is probably the only deadpan special on this list, but it is one of the best I’ve ever seen. Female deadpan comics are quite rare, Tig is probably one of the only I’ve seen on Netflix. For those unfamiliar, deadpan is a type of delivery with very limited emotion and expression and is often very sarcastic. Tig makes it her own by adding slight adjustments to her tone in asides and occasionally smiling to remind the audience not to take her so seriously. In this special she tells stories about her wife and family as well as parties, weird interactions, and her past jobs. She doesn’t really touch upon the more vulgar topics so I would feel comfortable watching this with anyone (she mentions sex by name in one joke). Some of her jokes take a little bit of thinking to get because she doesn’t always give you all the information because she likes to toy with her audience. She plays two or three games of audience deception; just go with it and enjoy the show. This is a really good comedy to watch if you’re looking for something different. I would highly recommend watching this one all the way to the end because there is a big surprise. Overall, Tig’s clever comedy and signature style will make you happy to see this special. 


Bothering Jesus – Kathleen Madigan

Missouri native Kathleen Madigan, in her special Bothering Jesus, candidly discusses being from the south, having old parents, and interactions with her family. This is probably the tamest special on this list in terms of content because the only possibly inappropriate thing she talks about is drinking. She harps on the quirks of her irish heritage and her exasperation with high societal expectations. She talks about her home state as an exhausted and slightly shameful native who knows better but is still proud of her people. She sounds like a stereotypical aunt who tells stories of tame mundane happenings as wild and hilarious tales of woe complete with an inner monologue. This is one that I would specifically recommend watching with parents or other family members because there’s something for everyone in it and it is tame enough that you won’t be subjected to the awkwardness that comes with the discussion of more vulgar topics. Overall, this special is super funny and clever so I highly recommend it. 


Nanette – Hannah Gadsby 

This special is not like any other comedy special I have ever watched because it explores the anti-comedy route. It starts out quite funny and light but shifts to a more serious tone as Gadsby toils with her relationship with comedy and how she might not want to do it anymore. That there is something inherently wrong with the way stories are told in comedy and that there is something damaging about some of the things we find funny. This darker tone is anything but off putting and actually makes the special richer and harder to pull away from. She talks about the trauma of her past and her struggles with sexuality but also discusses the happier moments in her life that parallelled these darker moments. She explores her identity and her struggles with self love as she chronicles the stories that changed her life. If you are in the “kill all men” mood this is a great comedy for you. This beautiful piece is extremely empowering and uplifting and will make you want to laugh and cry. I wouldn’t recommend watching this if you are looking for something light and fun, but it is definitely worth the watch when you’re in the mood. Despite not making them laugh as much as other comics might have, the audience was so moved by her show that they gave her an immediate standing ovation. If you’ve already seen Nanette or want something on the lighter side from the same comedian, I would highly recommend her latest special Douglas. In Douglas, Gadsby proclaims that she is fresh out of trauma because she used it all up for her Nanette material and has more fun in this new special. You can tell that she is feeling more herself as she discusses art history, her autism, and needling the patriarchy. Although this comedy is certainly lighter, she still makes it personal and sweet while sticking to her guns and putting you in that lovely “hate all men” mood. Overall, both of Hannah Gadsby’s comedies are heartwarming, rich, and hilarious while also being meaningful and empowering.


Time Machine – Leslie Jones

In her comedy special Time Machine, Leslie Jones outdoes herself and shows that her comedic integrity is not dependent on a group setting. She holds her own and thrives on stage as she chronicles the stumbles of her 20s, aging, and her love life. To be honest, I never really got excited for Leslie’s content on Saturday Night Live but I still found her to be hilarious in this special because her comedic talents were better exhibited in this piece than her work at SNL. Her style and delivering are recognizable from SNL but you get to see another side through her physical comedy and tamer delivery styles. Just like many of the other specials on this list, she ties it all together with a meaningful storyline and lesson that she wants to share. In this feel good special, Jones shares the numerous mistakes and fumbles of her past and present but, despite them all, she would never go back and fix them because they made her into the person she is today. 


Black Mitzvah – Tiffany Haddish 

I’ve heard a lot about Tiffany Haddish’s comedy so I was super excited to finally watch some of her specials. Unlike many of the other specials with preceding reputations, both of Haddish’s specials are some of the best I’ve ever seen. My favorite of the two on Netflix is Black Mitzvah. In Black Mitzvah, Haddish discusses her recent successes and fumbles while also talking about her family, religion, and recovering from life’s struggles. This special is a continuation of her other special, She Ready. She’s learned a lot and is here to teach. She is so confident in her delivery yet still retains the genuine nature of her storytelling and humor. Her transparency in her thoughts and little laughs to herself make it feel like she’s telling you these stories as a friend and makes it that much more funny. If you’ve already seen Black Mitzvah or want more from Tiffany Haddish, I highly recommend She Ready. In that special Haddish is just as genuine and has a lot of fun talking about her beginnings. In both specials, Haddish exhibits a sparkling confidence that is simply infectious. She reminds us that we can learn from our past and not let others bring us down. 


Stage Fright – Jenny Slate

I don’t know what it is but Jenny Slate reminds me of a few of my friends. Maybe it’s the way she laughs or the commentary she makes but Slate is extremely relatable. In Stage Fright, Slate discusses her family, her childhood, and being Jewish. The special switches between the actual stand up show and intimate, documentary-like footage of Slate talking to her family in her parent’s home. The special adds another layer of sentiment as she starts to explore her own room at her family home and starts to discuss all of the moments from her adult life that have led her back to this house—one of which being her recent divorce. She stays goofy with her physical comedy as she makes quiet contrasts between herself and the status quo. A balance is found between the gravity of personal storytelling and well timed jokes to create a seamless blend between humor and intimacy. Her delivery is truly genuine and joyful as she takes pauses to laugh at her own jokes and lean against the microphone stand. Overall, this special is very uplifting and hilarious and I highly recommend watching this one with your friends or by yourself. 


Sweet and Salty – Fortune Feimster

In her special Sweet and Salty, Fortune Feimster tells the story of her life. Performing on a huge stage in a southern church, Feimster discusses her childhood misadventures, finding her sexuality, and southern culture. Growing up unknowingly gay led to many hilarious moments as Feimster experienced being a girl scout, training to be a debutante, and attending a southern women’s college. The story becomes more personal as she details first realizing that she was a lesbian when she first moved out of the south and started living in Los Angeles. But despite feelings of betrayal because of her own ignorance, the story is ultimately joyful when it comes to her coming out and embracing her identity. Her delivery is very fun and casual even while addressing more personal topics. She does a great job with her humorous storytelling by mixing descriptive comedy and a bit of southern charm—and making it look easy. Overall, this special is silly and heartwarming without being too serious—still substantial yet not too too serious. 


The Honeymoon Stand Up Special: 1. Natasha – Natasha Leggero

Although half the length of most of the specials on this list (only 30 minutes!), Natasha’s segment of The Honeymoon Stand Up Special is just as hilarious as a full length special. She discusses her unborn child, family, and religion with biting humor and furiously stabs at the patriarchy. This is another special that really puts you in the “kill all men” mood. She mixes in quite a bit of deadpan in her delivery but makes it work by balancing it out with more expressive humor. She demonstrates her talent for more improvisational comedy when she starts asking her audience members to share certain stories. Overall, this segment of a larger special works great as a standalone if you are in the mood for something on the shorter side that doesn’t sacrifice humor. 


Some Very Honorable Mentions: 

Not Normal – Wanda Sykes

I’m Gonna Die Alone (and I Feel Fine) – Jen Kirkman

Mother Inferior – Christina Pazsitzky 

Bangin’ – Nikki Glaser

Can I Touch It? – Whitney Cummings

Lower Classy – Cristela Alonzo 

Things They Won’t Let Me Say – Aditi Mittal 

Hard Knock Wife – Ali Wong

Glitter Room – Katherine Ryan


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