Stand-up comedy has been undergoing somewhat of a renaissance on the Internet lately. As distribution methods for content have changed and people have been able to stream or download sets from their favorite comics instead of going to see them at clubs or waiting for their next stand-up special on Comedy Central, the variety of comedy available has expanded beyond a handful of high-profile performers.
HBO was really the first TV station to bring stand-up comedy into the home, typically with hour-long specials from a single comic. Then Comedy Central arrived and offered more bite-sized portions of stand-up comedy (going so far as to have a show called Short Attention Span Theater, which pretty much sums up the demographic they were going for). But even with channels like HBO and Comedy Central, comedians still had to rely on a handful of gatekeepers to decide whether or not their content would be distributed. Now the options for distribution are nearly limitless, including just putting it up on a comedian’s own websites for download, a method that Louis C.K. proved could be successful.
There are downsides to the democratization of content delivery, though. With so much content available, it can become quite difficult to separate out the good from the bad. Listed below are our favorite stand-up comedy specials currently available online. Of course, the availability of these specials could change tomorrow—another downside of the Internet as a distribution medium—so stream and/or download them as soon as possible. In fact, have yourself a stand-up comedy marathon. There are worse ways to spend a few hours.