Netflix is arguably the new home of standup comedy and although their standup library does predominantly focus on American standup comics, it’s British lineup has been growing particularly over the past year.
As Andrew Marr observed, to understand any period of modern history it’s necessary to look at the music and the comedy. The satirists have become the main social commentators and no walk of life is safe from their observations. To bring comedy to this is a special skill when many of the topics are political and complex. Netflix has become a home for stand up comedians, usually under their Netflix Originals banner. The cauldron of British comedy is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and if you ever get the chance to visit grab it with both hands. We have chosen 5 British comedians currently streaming. Don’t worry, the targets of their humor are not restricted to the shores of the UK.
Ricky Gervais – Humanity
Filmed in London at the Apollo in London, Humanity is Ricky Gervais’ return to the live stand up stage after seven years. The successes of the Office and Extras, set up Gervais’ TV career so it’s always good when a comedian returns to their roots. Humanity is not for the PC among you. The comedy is clever, observant, aggressive and often dark; it touches many raw nerves. But it’s funny without question.
Greg Davies – You Magnificent Beast
Greg Davis is a stalwart of British TV comedy so a live show is both fresh and refreshing. As seems to be the way currently, political correctness goes out of the window and satire becomes deep social commentary. A giant of a man, Davies dominates the stage and moves from being the butt of the joke (as he is so often on TV) to the deliverer of the wisdom. And wisdom is what it is. How many of the stories are true? Does it really matter?
Jack Whitehall – At Large
Jack Whitehall is another comedian who is equally at home on the TV as he is on a live stage. Whitehall’s comedy is less aggressive than many of his contemporaries but well observed and very funny nonetheless. Also streaming on Netflix is Travels with my Father. This is an absorbing travelogue through South East Asia with some rather contrived situations. Jack’s father, Michael, is a stuffy character but it’s impossible not to warm to him.
James Acaster – Repertoire
Repertoire is a 4 episode mini-series that weaves 4 apparently disparate shows into one. This is very clever and it all comes together in the final episode. The material moves from the strange to the mundane and evolve under the loose titles of Recognise, Represent, Reset and Recap. Acaster has yet to break into TV with a big role – a household name role if you will – but it’s only a matter of time. For lovers of intelligent comedy, James Acaster is your man; remember the name and look out for it.
Russell Howard – Recalibrate
Russell Howard, although successful in front of the cameras is a true stand up comedian and a high energy comedian to boot. Not all of the material in Recalibrate is new. Hardly a problem if you’re unfamiliar with his stuff and not a problem if you’re already a fan. It’s funny every time round. A lot of it is personal and self deprecating but still positive and optimistic; pleasant in the modern world.