We could all use a few extra laughs right now, but our kids, in particular, have had a rough go of it this year. With quarantine still stretching out ahead of us, now is a good time to lighten the mood in the home — with some good old-fashioned stand-up comedy.
Stand-up comedians as a group are not exactly known for being family-friendly. However, there are a few out there who steer clear of profanity and topics that are too mature or inappropriate for kids. One member of our Offspring Facebook Group recently asked for suggestions and the answers came pouring in. Alyssa says:
I’m looking for some recommendations for appropriate stand-up comedians [for an 8- or 9-year-old]. We watched a Jim Gaffigan special with our son and he loved it and has been asking to watch more stand-up, but everything I can think of is totally inappropriate! I figured this group would be the best place to ask!
Here are some of our top picks. Keep in mind that just because a comic’s language is mostly clean doesn’t mean they’re not mature or never offensive. So, as with any new media you introduce your kids to, it’s best to preview it first to make sure it falls in line with your comfort level — and then watch it together as a family so you can explain and discuss anything that might need some extra context.
Brian Regan was probably the most suggested comic in our Facebook group. Regan is well-known as a sort of sarcastic everyman whose humour appeals to people of all ages. Blake Harper writes this about Regan for Fatherly:
Kids will love especially love Regan because a lot of his best material focuses on him looking back on his childhood. Regan is expert at recontextualising all the weird stuff kids experience growing up. After all, who can forget Regan musing on trying to survive little league when you’re more focused on snow cones than playing the actual game?
Regan has two specials on Netflix: Nunchucks and Flamethrowers and Stand Up and Away.
Kellen Erskine is a great option for kids just getting into stand-up comedy with topics like high school mascots, shopping carts and penguins. You can find some of his work on the Dry Bar Comedy channel on YouTube, and you can watch Erskine’s 40-minute special on Amazon, recommended for kids ages 7 and older.
Preacher Lawson is best known for his time on America’s Got Talent (he was a finalist in season 12 and came in fifth in America’s Got Talent; The Champions); he’s also had a comedy special, called Get to Know Me, released on BET+ and has a YouTube channel.
Nate Bargatze has a special on Netflix called The Tennessee Kid that was recommended by a couple of members in our Facebook group. The Tennessee Kid is rated PG and hits on topics that include air travel, cheap weddings, college football and chocolate milk.
Anjelah Johnson is another brilliant, creative comedian to check out. Harper writes this about her for Fatherly:
She may not be a household name like most of the others on the list but early YouTube fans or anyone who watched MadTV will most likely recognise Johnson as the infamous Bon Qui Qui. These days, Johnson mostly does stand-up, which, unsurprisingly features a lot of spot-on character work and goofy voices. Kids probably won’t get all of her jokes but are sure to be cracking up anytime she busts out one of her phenomenal impressions.
Her one-hour special on Netflix, Not Fancy, is rated M.
Ryan Hamilton is known for his observational, self-deprecating humour — plus the fact that he sounds a LOT like Jerry Seinfeld. Hamilton’s Happy Face special on Netflix, in particular, got a couple of thumbs-up from the Facebook group. The one-hour special is rated M for “substances,” though, so give it a watch on your own before you let the kids tune in.
Comedian Michael Jr. calls his work “comedy that inspires,” with a focus on making sure it’s good for the whole family. He has a podcast, an upcoming movie, his comedy special called Laughing on Purpose, and a YouTube channel stocked with his stand-up work.
As Alyssa in our group pointed out, Jim Gaffigan is also a good place to start. He’s known as the “King of Clean Comedy,” so you won’t get much more tame in terms of language and topics (largely fatherhood, laziness and food) in a true stand-up comedian. You can find lots of Gaffigan clips on his YouTube Channel, and his Mr. Universe special is available on Netflix.
The Dry Bar channel on YouTube
I mentioned Dry Bar on YouTube earlier as a good place to find Kellen Erskine’s work, and it’s a great spot to find other short stand-up routines or clips from a variety of comedians. If you find a particular comedian there that you and your kids like, Dry Bar has playlists or full specials you can watch, too.