Comedy is a genre that must push the boundaries of what people think is socially acceptable. The great stand-up comedians have set themselves apart from the others by relating a common ground among every type of person.
Once an up and coming comedian gained recognition through live sets and small shows, they could then film a cable network special that would boost that recognition. The specials were a catalyst for ones career as a stand-up comic.
Whether it was on Comedy Central, HBO, or Showtime, the cable networks were where the kings of the comedy world resided.
Now, Netflix has bolstered its lineup with big name stars such as Dave Chappelle, Louis C.K. and Chris Rock.
Enterprising comedians now come to Netflix to see the mecca of comedy. The performances range from edgy, musical sets like Bo Burnham, to tame PG rated comedy like Mike Birbiglia.
Since the beginning of 2017, Netflix has released 17 comedy specials and one of the biggest is still to come. A reported deal from Netflix has Chris Rock performing two shows at a small price of $40 million.
These caliber deals and this kind of money are proof that Netflix has gone all-in on stand up, and for good reason.
The rise in comedy specials available has been a great opportunity for young up-and-coming comedians to get a ton of looks at comics that they may have not seen.
Die Laughing Improv group member Rebecca Turner says,
“I think it’s good. You get to find out about more people that you find interesting or funny. And you can watch them anytime that you want to.”
Die Laughing is Tulsa Community College’s very own improv group that holds performances at TCC’s Studio Theatre at the Southeast Campus. The shows are part of an actual class in which students may enroll.
Associate Professor of Theatre production Bethany Frank, instructor of the course, invites any student that has the itch to laugh to join the class and be ready for fun.
Watching stand-up comedians and comedy sketch shows like Saturday Night Live, is how Frank says she derived her comedic inspiration.
“I like Tina Fey. I like her writing and I like that she is a female trailblazer. I really like her and Amy Poehler’s work.”
Die Laughing member Jonah Fujikawa says that he first saw one of his favorite comedians, comedians such as Bo Burnham, on Netflix. Burnham’s comedy specials have been on Netflix since 2010 and it is safe to say that Netflix has propelled him into the spotlight more than if he was not on the site.
“I like Louis C.K. and Bo Burnham,” says Fujikawa. “So, two different generations of comedy. I actually started writing Haikus as comedy after I watched [Burnham’s] specials.”
The simple fact that all of the new comedy specials are available at the press of a button, only fuels the [comedic] fire,” Fujikawa says.
“I love to watch [comedy] in person when it comes to the BOK Center. I will watch almost every Netflix special that comes on, of anybody.”
The generation of upcoming comics are heavily influenced by what they have available to them. Netflix has become the new stomping ground for great comics, and if these striving comics pick up a few different modes of expression, do not be surprised if they tell you they grew up watching Louis C.K. instead of George Carlin, or Dave Chappelle instead of Richard Pryor.