BitchWatch9 Comedy Specials to Help You Feel Less Alone This Holiday Season

Michelle Buteau, who has light skin and curly hair parted down the middle, stands on stage in a glittery blazer during her comedy special.

Michelle Buteau in Welcome to Buteaupia (Photo credit: Marcus Price/Netflix)

This year, the holidays are undeniably different. Some of us are nervously and carefully planning for smaller family gatherings than usual; others are preparing for their first holiday season away from home. And of course, for many people COVID-19 means facing a season typically filled with parties, hugs, and laughter entirely. But amid the numerous struggles most of us face as 2020 draws to a close, it’s important that we recognize the very small wins. And one of them is that, if absolutely nothing else, we can turn to our favorite streaming services to feel just a little bit less alone.

When I’m feeling sad or otherwise exhausted by this year and all it’s encompassed, I find necessary comfort in turning to comedians like Ali Wong and Michelle Buteau. It feels good to laugh, even momentarily; it feels good to fill your living space with some warmth and humor. Allow yourself a few hours of levity—or maybe plan an entire weekend of watching—by turning on any one of these talented comedians and letting their cheery voices and cozy energy enter your home.

1. Ali Wong: Baby Cobra

Ali Wong: Baby Cobra - The Pregnant Female Comedian | Netflix Is A Joke

{ Netflix }
Release Date: May 5, 2016

Ali Wong is so damn good. She approaches comedy with seemingly no filter, diving headfirst into jokes about pregnancy and motherhood. Baby Cobra, which premiered on Mother’s Day 2016, is about sex, marriage, the bodily functions that come with being pregnant, and fame. If you fall for Wong’s hilarity (trust me: you will), be sure to check out Hard Knock Wife, her second special for Netflix—and another one filmed while she’s pregnant, this time with her second child.

2. 2 Dope Queens

2 Dope Queens (2018) | Teaser Trailer | HBO

{ HBO }
Release Date: February 2, 2018

In 2016, Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson launched 2 Dope Queens, a podcast about dating, friendship, race, and more, and, in 2018, the podcast hit HBO as a series of hourlong specials filmed in front of live audiences. With guests ranging from Uzo Aduba to Jon Stewart, these specials quickly became some of my favorites, and, as a lover of the podcast, I really enjoyed the chance to watch Williams and Robinson chat live with other comedy stars.

3. Katherine Ryan: Glitter Room

Katherine Ryan: Glitter Room | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

{ Netflix }
Release Date: July 1, 2019

In Glitter Room, Katherine Ryan brings her wry, deadpan humor to stories about being a poor single mother, jokes about plastic surgery (and getting fillers herself), and thoughts on dog breeds. The Netflix special, which comes after 2017’s In Trouble, acts as an introduction to Ryan’s 2020 sitcom, The Duchess, in which she plays an exaggerated version of herself who curses frequently, has sex with her ex in an alleyway, and shocks the other mothers at her daughter’s school on a regular basis. Throughout her work, Ryan examines single motherhood and building a small world of her own that isn’t at all based around men, but, rather, entirely centers herself and her daughter.

4. Jenny Slate: Stage Fright

Jenny Slate: Stage Fright | Official Trailer | Netflix

{ Netflix }
Release Date: October 22, 2019

If you enjoyed Jenny Slate’s strange, thoughtful book Little Weirds (2019), you’ll enjoy Stage Fright. The comedian shares her intimate childhood memories and walks us through the home she grew up in and its hauntings, and the set is as humorous as it is tender. It’s an hour of bizarrely soothing comedy that thinks through loneliness and fear, making it a relatable watch for our current times.

5. Hannah Gadsby: Douglas

Hannah Gadsby: Douglas | Official Trailer | Netflix

{ Netflix }
Release Date: May 26, 2020

Hannah Gadsby became beloved almost as soon as her Netflix debut, Nanette, dropped in 2018. The Australian writer flipped stand-up comedy on its head, starting her set by making us laugh, and ending it by making us cry. With her follow-up, Douglas, she uses the topic of dog walking to discuss gender dynamics and sexism; discusses autism and neurodiversity at length; and lands sharp jokes about anti-vaxxers. It’s an honor to spend more time with Gadsby.

6. Yvonne Orji: Momma, I Made It!

Yvonne Orji: Momma, I Made It! (2020) | Promo | HBO

{ HBO }
Release Date: June 6, 2020

Whether or not you think that it’s Molly, rather than Issa (Issa Rae) who’s the bad best friend of HBO’s Insecure, it’s easy to love Orji herself. In her debut Netflix comedy special, the Nigerian American actress takes center stage for a solo performance in which she truly shines. As a comedian, Orji feels like a best friend as she unloads on subjects that range from dating frustrations to the pressure of being a “good” daughter to the constant, lurking irritation of student loans. Her voice is a perfect one to have playing as you laze around your apartment.

7. Beth Stelling: Girl Daddy

"Beth Stelling: Girl Daddy" – Official Trailer – HBO Max

{ HBO }
Release Date: August 20, 2020

Beth Stelling is all about dry humor, and there’s really no subject she won’t tackle. She jokes about #MeToo, she jokes about the way men so often defend their friends regardless of what the women in their lives have said about them, and she jokes about the justice system. But Stelling doesn’t punch down; rather, she’s thoughtfully crafting jokes about the reality of sexism and misogyny. She’ll feel like your friend who tells all, but in a way that’s much more pithy than caustic.

8. Rose Matafeo: Horn Dog

Period Tracker | Rose Matafeo: Horn Dog | HBO Max

{ HBO }
Release Date: August 20, 2020

Standing on stage during her HBO special, Rose Matafeo opens up about being horny, the nature of horniness, and what she’s willing to sacrifice in the name of being horny—but, mostly, she talks about love. If podcasts like Nicole Byer’s Why Won’t You Date Me? make you feel deeply seen, you’ll likely find yourself feeling comforted by the sound of Matafeo as she talks about breakups and tricking listeners into thinking they’re hearing a “sexy sex show” when it’s really about love and being a Pisces.

9. Michelle Buteau: Welcome to Buteaupia

Michelle Buteau: Welcome To Buteaupia | Netflix Standup Comedy Special | Trailer

{ Netflix }
Release Date: September 29, 2020

I adore Michelle Buteau. Every time she pops up in a film even briefly, as she’s done in Someone Great (2019), Almost Love (2019), and Happiest Season (2020), her literal existence makes me so, so happy. Buteau’s debut Netflix special, Welcome to Buteaupia, offers up even more of that pure joy in the comedian’s riffs on motherhood, on marriage to a Dutch man with a taste for outdoor adventures (her joke about needing health insurance to date a white person could not land more beautifully), and on being an “achievable Beyoncé for government workers.” She’ll certainly keep you company all holiday season.

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Rachel Charlene Lewis, who has light brown skin and dark brown curly hair, wears a white button up and gold jewelry and gold glasses.
by Rachel Charlene Lewis
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Rachel Charlene Lewis has written about culture, identity, and the internet for publications including i-D, Teen Vogue, Refinery29, Greatist, Glamour, Autostraddle, Ravishly, SELF, StyleCaster, The Frisky (RIP), The Mary Sue, and elsewhere. Her literary work, reviews, and interviews have been published in Catapult, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Normal School, Publisher’s Weekly, The Offing, and in several other magazines. She is on Twitter and Instagram, always.