Laughter is really the best cultural exchange
Netflix is without a doubt the most popular streaming service available, and the company’s exponential growth over recent years has allowed it to go beyond just streaming. Since its first in-house series in 2013, Netflix has produced literally hundreds of movies and shows, and luckily for comedy lovers, a pretty decent chunk of that is stand up.
In fact, there are roughly 160 full length specials and 13 series/collections.
(I literally counted, it took for-fucking-ever, you’re welcome)
The latest addition to the roster of stand up comedy originals is Comedians of the World, and holy shit, has Netflix ever started 2019 off with a BANG. The series features a grand total of 47 comedians from 13 different countries and regions, each with their own 30 minute special. So not only does that add up to almost 24 full hours of comedy (which is exactly how I’m spending my Saturday, nobody contact me) but more importantly, in my opinion, it features arguably the most diverse list of comics of any stand up collection out there. It’s a fucking delight.
In case I haven’t sold you on it yet, I’ll give you the rundown of a few of my favourites.
Chris D’Elia, Nonstop – USA
D’Elia has already done two specials with Netflix, Incorrigible in 2015 and Man On Fire in 2017, which were both fucking excellent. So I was BEYOND stoked (but not at all surprised) to see that this half hour long segment is definitely his hat trick. Bringing his trademark high energy and animated style, and the masterful comedic timing we’ve all come to expect from him, D’Elia dives into why Australia doesn’t live up to the hype and how the accent down there is straight up its own language. My only issue with his performance in Comedians of the World is that it’s only 30 minutes.
K. Trevor Wilson, Talking Shit – Canada (ENG)
What I really loved about Wilson’s special was the juxtaposition between his onstage presence and the subject matter. He leaves the mic in the stand, stays localized, and delivers one of, if not the most deadpan performances in the series as a whole – and spends basically the entire time talking about shit in an impressive number of contexts and anecdotes. It’s probably the closest thing to a Tedx Talk on shit we’re ever going to get. My second favourite thing about Wilson’s performance is I’m so used to seeing him play the lovable, borderline cartoonish Squirrely Dan in the Canadian sitcom Letterkenny (which I wrote about here) that I forget he’s not actually a hick who speaks in plurals.
Nazeem Hussain, Public Frenemy – New Zealand/Australia
This was my first time seeing Hussain’s stand up and I can tell you it absolutely will not be the last. He draws from his own lived experiences dealing with racism in Australia and growing up with immigrant parents, and delivers these topics, which are decidedly heavy, in a captivating, light, energetic fashion. He has incredible stage presence and really has command of the room. He reveals in his set that he studied law and science but decided to pursue comedy, which was probably not the most lucrative career move, sure, but it doesn’t take more than a few minutes to see that it was definitely the right one.
I think the reason why people are generally quite limited in the stand up they choose to consume or are aware exists is because of how strongly it’s tied to culture. Commonalities and shared experiences or even things as simple as accents and mannerisms are what help us feel connected to others, and the more a comedian can connect with an audience the more positive the reaction will be. Familiarity breeds comfort, or in this case, laughter. If you’re from Denmark you might not be inclined to check out the comedian from Singapore who rolls into town, and on a smaller scale a joke written by a comic from Toronto might not land at an open mic in Vancouver.
Comedians of the World, however, is proof that if you haven’t experienced comedy from all over this earth, you’re truly missing out. You might be surprised who or what you relate to, and these 47 comedians tap into a plethora of themes and topics that are hilarious no matter where you’re from. The range of talent in this series is huge, and it makes the world feel a little bit smaller.