Best comedies and stand-up on Netflix for December 2018

The funniest movies and stand-up specials you can stream this month.

Jason Parker Senior Editor / Reviews - Software
Jason Parker has been at CNET for nearly 15 years. He is the senior editor in charge of iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.
Jason Parker
9 min read

Need a pick-me-up? We're here to help. We've rounded up the best funny movies, plus our favorite stand-up specials, available on Netflix right now. 

Admit it: You could use a good laugh.

Best comedy movies

Hot Fuzz (2007)

Metacritic score: 71

Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is an overachieving London cop who gets transferred to a small-town force, mainly because he was making the officers of his former precinct look bad by comparison. He's sent to a small village and teams up with new partner Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) and finds something dark is taking place in the town. The onscreen chemistry is undeniable as Pegg plays the straight man to Frost's bumbling small town cop.

Tommy Boy (1995)

Metacritic score: 46

Chris Farley's first starring role in a comedy is a classic. He plays Tommy Callahan, who works alongside Richard Hayden (David Spade) to save his family's auto-parts business after Callahan's father dies. Farley, one of the all-time greats from Saturday Night Live, was a one-of-a-kind comedy legend. Tommy Boy is a must-watch.

Happy Gilmore (1996)

Metacritic score: 31

Sure, it has a low score from critics and it's true that it's a predictable sports movie, but Happy Gilmore is still a lot of fun and might be one of Adam Sandler's best. There are tons of funny moments with Carl Weathers as Gilmore's one-handed coach, Christopher McDonald as his nemesis, Shooter McGavin, and cameos from several SNL cast members. Even Bob Barker gets in on the comedy during a Pro-Am tournament in the movie. It's not going to make you think or teach you any valuable lessons, but Happy Gilmore is still a fun comedy for when you need a laugh.

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983)

No Metacritic score

The most famous British comedy troupe of all time gives their version of the meaning of life through songs and sketches in this movie featuring tons of hilarious classic quotable lines. One word of warning, in one of the sketches, when a waiter asks a large man if he would like a "wafer thin mint" it's about to get (even more) messy.

Blazing Saddles (1974)

Metacritic score: 73

One of the greatest of Mel Brooks classic comedies, Blazing Saddles follows the story of a small town, a railroad that must be built and a new sheriff. But really, that's just the backdrop to endless one-liners, puns and sight gags that will have you rolling on the floor laughing. Even if it is a bit dated at this point, it is definitely one of the classics that everyone should watch.

Animal House (1978)

Metacritic score: 79

This comedy classic is the story of two young men who pledge a wild fraternity at Faber college, only to party themselves and the rest of their house further and further into trouble with the dean. Funny from start to finish, it's often named as one of the best comedy movies of all time. There are hilarious performances from all the cast, including a young John Belushi in his first movie, along with Donald Sutherland, Karen Allen and Kevin Bacon. I could go on, but frankly if you haven't seen Animal House, it should be No. 1 on your list the next time you want to watch a comedy.

Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II (1984, 1989)

Metacritic score: 71, 56

Ghostbusters needs little in the way of introduction, but even if you've seen this movie before, it's still incredibly charming and funny to this day. A team of misfits including Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson figure out a way to capture ghosts and decide to start a team called the Ghostbusters. Leading lady Sigourney Weaver plays the perfect "straight woman" to the rest of the cast's comedy antics.

Ghostbusters 2 may not climb to the heights of the classic original, but it's still very entertaining. 


Stripes (1981)

Columbia Pictures

Stripes (1981)

Metacritic score: 68

Stripes is one of Bill Murray's early roles that helped launch him to become the famous comedic actor he is today. The movie follows the rudderless John Winger (Murray) and Russell Ziskey (Harold Ramis) as they decide to join the army to pull their lives together. Murray and Ramis are joined by John Candy as Ox as they go through basic training, finagle their way to graduating, then take on a top-secret mission in eastern Europe. It's silly and it's stupid, but it's so much fun.

Heathers (1988)

Metacritic score: 73

A darker entry than most on the list, Heathers is an iconic '80s movie that follows a string of murders at a small-town high school. The most popular girls in the school are gradually picked off by Veronica (Winona Ryder) and the sociopathic J.D. (Christian Slater). Did I mention it was dark? It is. But it's also filled with funny dialogue and '80s nostalgia.

Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

Metacritic score: 42

OK, this is not going to be in your top 10, and to be fair it probably won't make your top 20 either. With that said, it's an absurdly funny cult classic. It follows a group of camp counselors at Camp Firewood as they try to kindle romance on the last day of camp. The cast is too huge to list, and includes many actors nobody knew then, but everybody knows and loves them now, including Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Michael Ian Black and Elizabeth Banks. The camp director is played by Janeane Garofalo.

Netflix made the film into a series in 2015, bringing back many of the same characters who were already a little old to be camp counselors in the original, but now it's just plain absurd (which is part of the fun). Search Netflix for Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.

Best in Show (2000)

Metacritic score: 78

This is Spinal Tap star Christopher Guest has some funny movies to his credit and Best in Show is near the top of the list. It's a mockumentary about the lives of five eccentric participants in a prestigious dog show. If you're looking for something funny and different, Best in Show is excellent.

Chicken Run (2000)

Metacritic score: 88

A claymation comedy created by Nick Park (who was behind Wallace & Gromit), Chicken Run sees a group of hens hatch a plan to escape the Tweedy family farm before the Tweedys are able to turn it into a chicken pot pie factory. The dialogue is funny, but the expert claymation and the expressive faces of the characters are what make this movie great.


The Big Lebowski (1998)

Columbia Pictures

The Big Lebowski (1998)

Metacritic score: 71

This fantastic Coen brothers comedy follows the story of Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski (played by Jeff Bridges) on a quest to get a stolen rug back after nefarious characters mistake him for a millionaire who shares his name. Confused? Don't worry. To be honest, the plot doesn't really matter at all in this hilarious comedy filled with amazing quotes and brilliant performances from John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, John Turturro and several others. It's a cult classic that everyone should see at least once.

Wedding Crashers (2005)

Metacritic score: 64

In what became an instant classic over a decade ago, Wedding Crashers follows Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn) and John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) as they crash weddings to try to meet and bed vulnerable women. Terrible as it sounds, there are a lot of laughs as they work their various schemes, and there are top-notch performances from Vaughn, Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Isla Fisher and Christopher Walken.

Bad Santa (2003)

Metacritic score: 70

This dark comedy stars Billy Bob Thornton as Willie T. Soke, a professional thief who disguises himself as Santa Claus every year to rob shopping malls. He's also an alcoholic and a sex addict, and when his poor lifestyle choices start to affect his work, things go awry. While watching this one probably won't become a family holiday tradition, it's a hilarious story with great performances all around.

Just Friends (2005)

Metacritic score: 47

This romantic comedy featuring Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart and Anna Faris might not make your list of all-time best comedy movies, but there are a lot of hilarious moments. I don't want to give anything away, but Faris, as self-obsessed pop singer Samantha James, steals plenty of scenes with her hilarious comedic style.

Friday (1995)

Metacritic score: 54

Craig Jones (Ice Cube) is a young man who's just lost his job and ends up hanging out in his South Central Los Angeles neighborhood with his best friend, Smokey (Chris Tucker). Friday is full of laughs as the boys witness the goings on of the neighborhood from their front porch.

Superbad (2007)

Metacritic score: 76

Filled with quotable lines and memorable moments, Superbad perfectly captures the awkwardness of youth, as Seth (Jonah Hill), Evan (Michael Cera) and Fogel (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) navigate their way to a big party where their love interests will be. Seth Rogen (who teamed with Evan Goldberg in writing the movie) also plays a cop alongside Bill Hader; the two inadvertently help the boys to their goal. As an all-around fun teenage comedy, it's tough to beat Superbad for laugh-out-loud entertainment.

Best stand-up specials


Dave Chapelle: The Age of Spin (2017)


Dave Chappelle: The Age of Spin (2017)

Metacritic score: 78

After a long break from stand-up, Dave Chappelle made his triumphant return with two new Netflix comedy specials. Even after all this time, he's still got it.

Netflix added two more Chappelle comedy specials late last year, called Equanimity and The Bird Revelation. These are both must-watch specials as well, and -- according to Chappelle himself -- might be the last you'll see of the comedian in the foreseeable future.

Sarah Silverman: A Speck of Dust (2017)

This special comes to us a year after Sarah Silverman was hospitalized with epiglottitis, which she discusses in her stand-up. It's frightening to think the comedy world came awfully close to losing one of the all-time greats. Lucky for us we were gifted with A Speck of Dust instead.

Patton Oswalt: Annihilation (2017)

This is one of the only comedy shows I've ever seen that made me cry. While probably not a great endorsement for a stand-up special, it's both funny and heartbreaking because it's Patton Oswalt's first time doing stand-up since the unexpected death of his wife. Amazingly, he can still make us laugh while talking about immense personal tragedy.

Chris Rock: Tamborine (2018)

Metacritic score: 78

In his first comedy special in 10 years, Chris Rock shows he can still be bitingly funny, but his characteristic brash, confident style has been tempered by a divorce and other major life changes. This special has a few missteps, but overall it's great to see Rock can still command the stage even when he delves into more serious material about life, race and regrets.

Iliza Shlesinger: Confirmed Kills (2016)

This was my first venture into Iliza Shlesinger's stand-up, and I'd happily go back for more. She was the first woman to win the comedy reality show competition Last Comic Standing back in 2008. Shlesinger has a real presence on stage, relying heavily on physical comedy and voice work. She's a bit brash, so if you're looking for something calm and soothing this might not be your cup of tea.


John Mulaney, Kid Gorgeous (2018)


John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid (2015)

This may be one of the greatest comedy specials I've ever watched. Having a rough day? Throw on The Comeback Kid. Inviting a date back to your place? Throw on The Comeback Kid. Making a sandwich? Throw on The Comeback Kid. Mulaney's delivery is utterly impeccable and every minute of this special is gut-bustingly funny.

And if you like The Comeback Kid, definitely watch Mulaney's latest stand-up special, Kid Gorgeous Live at Radio City. It's fantastic.

Ali Wong: Hard Knock Wife (2018)

Two years after her hit Netflix stand-up special Baby Cobra, Ali Wong returns to the stage with a new baby bump and hilarious observations about marriage and motherhood. It's especially funny if you watch Baby Cobra first, because her perspective has changed now that she's a mom and has become a successful comedian. You should probably wait for the kids to go to sleep before watching these two specials, though you might wake them up from laughing so hard.

Originally published Oct. 26, 2017.
Update, Nov. 28, 2018: Added The Big Lebowski and Firday for November. This list is regularly updated.

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