In times like these, we could all use a good chuckle. The right distraction from daily life can make your day, and while laughter might not be the best medicine, it’s never felt more like a necessary balm, either. So here are the best new comedies—and we’re using that term loosely to include movies, shows, and specials—that are available to stream right now on the major streaming platforms: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and HBO Go. After all, it’s best to stock up on medicine while we still can.
The best new comedies to stream
1) The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime)
In the New York comedy scene of the early ‘60s, Miriam ‘Midge’ Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) is your typical Upper West Side housewife. She has two kids, a husband who’s a junior executive and amateur comedian, and parents who live in the same apartment building as her. Everything changes when Midge finds out that not only has her husband, Joel (Michael Zegen) been stealing his jokes from established comics, he’s also been cheating on her with his secretary. In one instant, her whole life falls apart. But when she shows up to the Gaslight Cafe where Joel sometimes performs later that night and gets onstage herself, she discovers something marvelous—that she’s the real comedian in her family. —Chris Osterndorf
2) American Vandal (Netflix)
Netflix has been growing its true-crime library with Making a Murderer, The Keepers, Amanda Knox, Audrie & Daisy, Casting JonBenet, Strong Island, and the upcoming Long Shot. But with American Vandal it appears to be hedging its bets and going right for parody. American Vandal is, at its core, an eight-episode dick joke. Twenty-seven faculty cars were defaced with dicks in the parking lot of Hanover High School, and Dylan Maxwell (Jimmy Tatro) is the main suspect.
“Everyone thinks I did it,” he says in the first episode.
“Did what?” the interviewer asks.
And so begins the exhaustive, hilarious search for answers, in the style of Making a Murderer or Serial. —Audra Schroeder
3) Future Man (Hulu)
This science fiction-tinged comedy arrives courtesy of executive producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. The premise—a janitor named Josh Futterman (Josh Hutcherson) is recruited by two resistance fighters from the future named Tiger and Wolf (Eliza Coupe and Derek Wilson) after beating a video game—is essentially lifted from The Last Starfighter. Future Man acknowledges this, and it offers copious nods to Back to the Future and Quantum Leap. But damn if it isn’t funny. —C.O.
4) Lady Dynamite season 2 (Netflix)
In season 2 of Lady Dynamite, the universe is still mostly intact: talking pugs, hungry raccoons, a deconstruction of show business and mental health. But the storyline opens up a little: Now Maria Bamford has entered a relationship and is testing out domestic life alongside comedy and career. If you’re wondering if the show is less meta this time around, the answer is no, and that’s to Lady Dynamite‘s advantage. —A.S.
5) Insecure (HBO GO/HBO NOW)
It’s hard not to love Insecure, Awkward Black Girl creator Issa Rae’s debut show for a major network. Even Obama has signed off on it. On its face, Insecure, the second season of which just finished airing on HBO, isn’t all that different from any number of the handful of shows about young people trying to navigate big city life on television right now. But it’s in the little details that it really stands out. The excellent soundtrack, the loving portrait of L.A., the dynamic between Issa and her friend group; no other show creates such a wonderful blend of writing, acting, and aesthetics. Season 2 also expands the scope of the show to include discussions about the nature of relationships, intersectionality, and gentrification, all of which combine to create a singular portrait of the Black experience. —C.O.
6) DeRay Davis: How To Act Black (Netflix)
DeRay Davis’ long-overdue streaming special places the raw and unapologetic comedian on a course for stardom. Refreshing and honest, the comic takes on his Hollywood adventures and breaks down race, police violence, the nuances of relationships, and even Harambe. —Kahron Spearman
7) Catastrophe (Amazon Prime)
This Amazon/Channel 4 co-production is a critical darling that still feels like a hidden secret among American viewers. Starring Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan as a couple whose one-night-stand turns into a pregnancy, and eventually, a marriage and family, Catastrophe is often painfully awkward and remarkably sweet within the same episode. It also features the guest star of all guest stars, the late, great Carrie Fisher, playing Rob’s mother Mia. Season 3 of Catastrophe landed in mid-2017, and it maintains the show’s level of excellence. —C.O.
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8) BoJack Horseman (Netflix)
BoJack Horseman is one of the most acclaimed comedies on TV, and it’s about a talking horse trying to reclaim his former glory in Hollywood. These two facts don’t sound like they should go together, but once you actually watch the show, it quickly starts to transcend its quirky “animals living alongside people” premise. As one of the best Hollywood satires ever, and as a startling meditation on middle age and depression, the show is dark and sad and profound and hilarious, often at the same time. In its first three seasons, Netflix set the gold standard for animated comedy with BoJack. Season 4 dropped in September, and it’s both as bleak and as funny as ever. —C.O.
9) Crashing (HBO GO/HBO NOW)
As in season 1, where Crashing shines is in its depiction of the high highs and low lows of starting as a standup comic. One scene where Pete and a group of fellow comics pretend to be happy for the success of contemporary after trashing him moments earlier felt painfully accurate. Ditto for a scene where Pete watches the same friend crush at a big venue, only to admit through gritted teeth that he really is funny. These moments help Crashing distinguish itself somewhat among the hundred other TV shows where comics play a version of themselves. —C.O.
10) GLOW (Netflix)
Produced by Orange Is the New Black’s Jenji Kohan, GLOW is your next great binge. Based on the real Glorious Ladies of Wrestling and starring Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, and Marc Maron, this series from Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch (who worked on Orange and Nurse Jackie) has everything you want in a Netflix comedy. It’s smart, funny, and occasionally heartbreaking. And at only ten episodes, it’s a breeze compared to much of their original content. —C.O.
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11) Hasan Minhaj, Homecoming King (Netflix)
Minhaj’s first Netflix special is a touching, incisive, and physical experience. The Daily Show correspondent riffs on immigration, family, and the emotional heft of 9/11. He covers every inch of the stage and eschews a mic in favor of eye contact, making the special more of a one-man show in which he addresses the audience and beyond. —A.S.
12) (Amazon Prime)
Comedian Tig Notaro became a legend during a July 2012 standup set at Largo in Los Angeles. Only a few days after receiving her breast cancer diagnosis, Notaro took the stage for a raw, heartbreaking, and hilarious set where she openly discussed the diagnosis, her fears, and her mother’s recent death. Notaro worked with Diablo Cody (Juno) to mine those events again to co-create the pseudo-autobiographical One Mississippi. Tig plays a Los Angeles radio host battling cancer who returns to her small-town Mississippi home to attend to her dying mother. Moving in with her stepfather and brother, Tig reconnects with her roots and learns things about her mother that she never suspected. Like Tig’s Largo set, One Mississippi will leave you in tears, but you won’t know if it’s from the laughter or the sadness. The show just released its second season, and it’s essential comedy. —C.O.
13) Rick and Morty (Hulu)
Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty is abrasive and gross and totally brilliant. Perhaps the most ambitious show the network has ever attempted, this time-traveling comedy from Justin Roiland and Community’s Dan Harmon grew out of a loose Back to the Future parody and evolved into something much more. It’s not just that the continuing adventures of alcoholic genius Rick Sanchez and his naïve grandson Morty are more mind-bending and intricately plotted than any other sci-fi show on television. It’s that Rick and Morty delivers on its high-concept premise while often feeling shockingly real too. Consider the season 2 episode, “Auto Erotic Assimilation,” in which Rick reconnects with his old girlfriend, Unity. Unity comes to realize that as much as she loves Rick, he is ultimately a destructive force in her life, and she has to let him go. Somehow, the fact that Unity is a hive-minded super being who has taken over a whole planet does not make this any less emotional. Rick and Morty is surely the best-animated show on television, with the exception of a certain Netflix series starring a Mr. Horseman, and now is the ideal time to catch up with the first two seasons (the third is currently airing on Adult Swim). —C.O.
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14) A Futile and Stupid Gesture (Netflix)
A Futile and Stupid Gesture, Netflix’s feature film adaptation of Josh Karp’s 2006 book of the same name, is an exploration of the creation of humor mag National Lampoon and its odd-couple co-founders, Henry Beard (Domhnall Gleeson) and Doug Kenney (Will Forte), it’s removed enough from its 1970s origins to offer new insight into its generational influence—and it also recontextualizes satire in an era littered with “fake news.” —Audra Schroeder
15) Red Oaks (Amazon Prime)
Set in a 1980s country club, Red Oaks is a fun wave of nostalgia, though it doesn’t let its love for the past overwhelm its characters or narrative. Featuring a bunch of good performances (including a never-better Paul Reiser), a music selection that heightens but doesn’t overwhelm, and a stylish look that makes the ‘80s feel cool and lame all at once, Red Oaks is a hidden gem. —C.O.
Dave Chappelle returns with two new specials that are a bit more timely than his previous Netflix offerings. Here he atones for those comments on Trump, and tries to expand his thoughts on trans issues. He also takes a swipe at the sexual assault allegations flowing through Hollywood, and offers a hint about why he left comedy. —Audra Schroeder
17) Tour de Pharmacy (HBO)
Tour de Pharmacy imagines a fictional 1982 Tour de France where literally every participant is packed to the swollen, vein-bulging gills with performance-enhancing drugs. It isn’t going to revolutionize the mockumentary genre, but it rides a familiar path with all the skill and dexterity of a seasoned athlete. Packed with celeb cameos and reveling in the absurd, Tour de Pharmacy is a potent, weaponized mixture of the very clever, very stupid, and utterly ridiculous. —David Wharton
18) Todd Glass, Act Happy (Netflix)
Todd Glass keeps his energy up, jumping from topic to topic, often starting a joke and abandoning the punchline in favor of a new one on Act Happy. He covers house-flipping shows, flossing, pigeons, and admits he has a song prepared in case he doesn’t have enough material. It appears he does have enough material, but sometimes a lack of focus hinders the delivery. Two highlights: He does a spot-on Brian Regan impression in a bit about man caves and channels Rodney Dangerfield doing Mitch Hedberg jokes, which I could have watched for another 15 minutes. —Audra Schroeder
19) Fleabag (Amazon Prime)
The best word to describe Fleabag, the excellent six-part series from England’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, is raw. Waller-Bridge lays bare almost all the most the most vulnerable aspects of her personality in this daring Amazon comedy, loosely basing much of her character, the titular Fleabag, on her own life. It always sounds lame when actors are praised for being “brave” or for “taking a chance” on a role. But as writer and star of Fleabag, Waller-Bridge really does put herself on the line. As she talks to the camera, providing House of Cards-style commentary on her life as it’s happening, Fleabag works through family squabbles, sexual impulse issues, and deep, unrecognized grief. But for a show about loss, Fleabag is always filthy, funny, and lively. —C.O.
20) Jerry Seinfeld, Jerry Before Seinfeld (Netflix)
Jerry Before Seinfeld is dated by default, as the comedian revisits the material he crafted in his first five years of standup. Anybody even vaguely familiar with his record-smashing eponymous sitcom should recognize his bits about men being magnetically drawn to other men working on things in the neighborhood, or arbitrarily deeming the middle finger an offensive gesture. (“I try to remember I’m only one finger away from a compliment, so it’s not that bad!”) But the special’s biographical nature also allows Seinfeld to weave the story of his own beginnings into his time-honored gags, as well as several fascinating cutaways that give viewers some insight into the comedian’s upbringing. —Bryan Rolli
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21) One Day at a Time (Netflix)
The series reboots Norman Lear’s popular ’70s series with the same title, which was edgy at the time for portraying a divorced single mother raising two teenage daughters on her own in Indianapolis. In the Netflix version, Penelope Alvarez is a single mom raising two teenage kids too, but don’t let the soft lighting and gem-toned clothes fool you: The details of her life are closer to the pulse of the modern American family than you’d think. She’s a war veteran living with post-traumatic stress, her Cuban immigrant mother lives in her apartment with her, and her activist daughter recently came out of the closet. The result is some powerful, timely TV. —Christine Friar
22) High Maintenance (HBO)
High Maintenance continues to be incisive, irreverent and poignant. Second season storylines include everything from a Brooklyn realtor (Orange Is the New Black’s Danielle Brooks) going to great lengths to find a new home to an ex-Hasidic man (Luzer Twersky) trying to adjust to his new life. But we also get more of The Guy’s personal life this season, his problems occasionally falling into the same thematic territory as his clients. —Chris Osterndorf
23) Dear White People (Netflix)
Could there be a more necessary comedy for the times we live in than Dear White People? Set at an elite East Coast university, this race relations satire follows four black students trying to make their way on an almost entirely white campus. The series, based on creator Justin Simien’s film of the same name, is pointed and occasionally cringe-worthy, but it’s also filled with laugh-out-loud moments that exist in perfect harmony with its commentary. —C.O.
24) I Love You, America (Hulu)
For its first dance with late night, Hulu takes the Netflix-Chelsea Handler approach with weekly episodes, but that’s about where the comparisons to Handler or other late-night shows end. I Love You, America’s set feels like a throwback to a late-’90s MTV show, and Silverman has a “white guy at a desk” to throw to in case America needs comfort. That silly, “Oh you old so-and-so” vibe fits into the show’s nostalgic feel, but a joke about white guys and comfort lands at a time when it has much more weight. Perhaps Silverman will grind that down on a future show. It’s an uneven approach and Silverman explains this, a few times. But I Love You, America tries balancing personal exploration—Silverman tells the audience she’s trying to change her “cunty” behavior by being open to more viewpoints—with bubble-popping. —A.S.
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25) The Standups (Netflix)
In the last six months, Netflix has released more than a dozen hourlong standup specials, with a focus on big-ticket names: Silverman, Chappelle, Schumer, C.K. It’s become a destination for comedy fans who want that marquee access, but it’s also experimenting with formats and voices. The Standups is Netflix’s way of experimenting with both. It’s a series of six standup specials from Deon Cole, Nikki Glaser, Fortune Feimster, Nate Bargatze, Beth Stelling, and Dan Soder: Comedians who might not be marquee names but that Netflix thinks are worth your time. —A.S.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.