The 15 Funniest LGBTQ Comedy Specials to Watch During Pride

The 15 Funniest LGBTQ Comedy Specials to Watch During Pride

“We laugh to keep from crying” is an aphorism for a reason. Comedy has a unique way of revealing the twisted and complicated lexicon of life through laughter. For this reason, it’s hardly surprising that many of the best standup comedians have endured tremendous pain in their private lives — and there is no better way to be vulnerable than speaking with pride about personal hardship during Pride.

For many LGBTQ comedians, performing has given them an opportunity to discuss their personal struggles and proclaim themselves as loudly as they can. These are people making waves in the industry while staying true to themselves. In the spirit of Pride, here are 15 comedy specials and sets to watch this month, or whenever you need to laugh and be inspired. (And let us know your own favourites in the comments — we could also use more laughs.)

Not Normal by Wanda Sykes

In this Netflix special, Wanda Sykes gives her honest opinions about the Trump administration and rags on the ridiculous lengths reality shows go to to grab eyeballs — but also gets more personal, talking frankly about her life as a lesbian married to a French woman, and the hilariousness of their family life. She jokes about the culture clash between her Blackness and her wife and kid’s whiteness, providing a glimpse of a side of Wanda we don’t normally see in her comedy.

Where to stream: Netflix

Psycho by Margaret Cho

Margaret Cho’s comedy genius is at full force in her 2015 standup special Psycho (emphasis on the “Cho”). She begins by making fun of the Asian audience members and joking about being mentioned in Christopher Dorner’s manifesto, noting that none of the other Asian actresses she’s jealous of were listed. Cho talks about her love of entertainment and her nerdy side, noting she finds Zachary Quinto to be the “most beautiful lesbian Spock.” She dives deep into the uncomfortable funny side of addiction and her life in the wake of her reliance on prescription pills. Cho, who identifies as bisexual, effortlessly blends her identity into all of her jokes, without apology.

Where to stream: Prime Video

“Nannette by Hannah Gatsby

The “comedy” of Hannah Gadsby’s 2018 special Nannette will leave your jaw on the floor (certainly it dropped like a bomb into standup culture). This is far from a traditional set; Gadsby delves into the weeds of performing as a woman — and as a queer woman in particular. The solo show ventures deep into the imposed self-hate Gadsby experienced being queer, how she felt being labelled a man-hater, and the power of men in society. Gadsby talks about identity, and how being labelled a lesbian doesn’t scratch the surface of her own, and being “gender not-normal.” Nannette speaks through the trauma of adolescence and adulthood, offering up serious messages sprinkled with laughs.

Where to stream: Netflix

3 In The Morning by Sam Jay

Sam Jay steps on the scene with their first televised solo comedy special in 3 In The Morning. She jokes about the expectations of non-femme lesbians and how they should act while in a relationship with her femme girlfriend. Chivalry not being a thing, and the difficulty of travel in these situations. Jay gives no fucks when it comes to joking about the queer community generally, and her girlfriend specifically. While the bit sting, Jay’s comedic timing and strong delivery let you know it’s all done in love, and it’s OK to laugh.

Where to stream: Netflix

Happy to Be Here by Tig Nataro

Tig Nataro is known for her dry humour and natural comedic delivery. In the recent comedy special Happy to Be Here, Nataro shares stories of mistaken identity, how she handles being called “sir,” and all the moments gender has truly embarrassed everyone but her. Nataro expresses her immense love for her wife, their wacky relationship with their cat Fluff, and her kid’s first words being, “I’m gay!” It’s a wholesome comedy about family life that’s down-to-earth and relatable. It’ll make you truly realise heteronormativity is some real bullshit.

Where to stream: Netflix

Sweet and Salty by Fortune Feimster

You can’t help but love Fortune Feimster. She has a calm and welcoming demeanour and a style of observational comedy that is on point. In Sweet and Salty, she addresses the efforts of her mother to make her feminine by making her wear Little House on the Prairie dresses and calling her natural disgust for such things “a phase.” You laugh because you know there is no way Fortune Feimster would live her life pretending to be something she’s not. (She jokes about being a girl scout and getting to spend time with so many girls, and fighting off boys to get that alone time with the girls.)

Where to stream: Netflix

Comedy Central Stand Up Presents Joel Kim Booster (season one, episode 11)

Joel Kim Booster lets you know he is a proud gay man right off the bat. His first joke reveals his family’s concerns around him spending time with his newly born nibling — a gender-neutral term for a sibling’s child. (His family alluded to the fact that his gayness is an issue.) He jokes that this baby has nothing on his exes (oh boy!). Booster charts his upbringing as a kid from South Korea adopted by a white family, growing up gay in a very religious household. “It’s interesting growing up with this face in an all-white family and an all-white town. I fully knew I was gay before I knew I was Asian,” he jokes. His jokes are quick, witty, and personal, and his set explores the dark humour (and trials and tribulations) of growing up queer and Asian in a white religious family.

They Ready featuring Flame Monroe

Flame Monroe takes it there in her feature episode of Tiffany Haddish’s They Ready. Monroe, who is transgender, comes out guns blazing, throwing jokes about inappropriate airport pat-downs, being outed by kids in grocery stores, and calling out men whom she can “fool” (and the fun she has fucking with them). Monroe’s standup puts uncomfortable truths front and centre, but she makes it safe for us to laugh through it all.

Where to stream: Netflix

Set Free by Simon Amstell

Simon Amstell is a British comedian who leans into his awkwardness and plays with English sensibilities in his humour. He notes that weddings are selfish acts in which couples force others to witness their love. He jokes about his boyfriend in a British manner, acting stoically giddy about their trip to Paris. Amstell hid his identity as a gay man for many years in his adolescence, and seeing him bring it into his standup so casually is beautiful.

Where to stream: Netflix

Comedy Central Stand Up Presents Jaboukie Young-White (season three, episode one)

Jaboukie comes to the stage hot in his feature episode of Comedy Central Stand-up Presents. He starts off by donning a frat bro personality and giving a Ted Talk for men about feminism, then throws off his hat and becomes himself, which means jokes about yoga and flirting with cute dude uber drivers. He is a young comedian who brings an infectious energy to the stage.

Where to stream: Digital rental

The Comedy Line Up featuring Tim Dillon (part one, episode eight)

Tim Dillon gets a fifteen-minute set on The Comedy Lineup, but has personality for days. He boasts about being from Long Island and the “specific type of monster” that breeds (he notes most people base their information about Long Islanders from bad reality TV — but that they’re not wrong). He talks about being a gay comic and giving terrible advice to “runaway gays.” The jokes teeter on black comedy as he illuminates and skewers the hard parts of queer life. He jokes about lying about his identity to appease his parents will make you wince even while you laugh. Dillon’s standup is definitely unapologetic, loud, and in charge.

Where to stream: Netflix

The Comedy Lineup featuring Sabrina Jalees (part one, episode six)

In Sabrina Jalees’s 15-minute set on The Comedy Lineup, she puts the vulnerable moments of her life on hilarious display. In her first minute onstage, she’s a proud momma, boasting about her wife giving birth to their beautiful baby boy. She then goes on to joke about the fascinated looks from people on the street wondering how it happened, and the magical feelings they give her. Every joke hits, even as you learn about her life as a lesbian, Muslim Pakistani. She talks frankly about the hard truths of being a woman in a world that doesn’t take women seriously, and is a force to be reckoned with on the stage.

Where to stream: Netflix

“Laughing to America” by Gina Yashere

British comedian Gina Yashere breaks down what it means to be of African descent while growing up in London. Her strong personality and in-your-face delivery produce guttural laughs that will make you think, should I be laughing at this? She jokes about looting during the London riots and the well-known stereotype of Africans and Black people not being “great with water.” If you dig this clip, Yashere, who has been quarantining with girlfriend Nina Rose Fischer, also made what she calls her Corona Diaries — funny videos she posted to Instagram during the lockdown in L.A.

Where to stream: Prime Video

The Comedy Line Up featuring Matteo Lane (part two, episode two)

Matteo Lane comes in hot, proclaiming his gayness by singing on the high notes; if that isn’t Pride material, I don’t know what is. He immediately announces, “If you didn’t know I’m gay,” then asks if anyone else in the crowd is gay too, then asks for a date. The special offers a brief taste of Lane’s style, and it’s fast and full of laughs. He makes fun of his voice and the stereotypical views of gayness that others place upon him, and finds a way to poke fun at the pain of a drive-by slur shouted his way while on a visit to Columbus, Ohio. Then there’s his bit about pitching a new Grindr app called “Fruit by the Foot,” amid other exaggerated stories.

Where to stream: Netflix

Comedians of the World, featuring Mae Martin

Mae Martin (who also stars on the Netflix series Feel Good) comes at you fast in their standup feature on Comedians of the World. Martin hits the ground running, talking fast and jumping from topic to topic while addressing their addictive nature and their obsession with comedy. In discussing their mother’s issues with their personality, they think back to their devotion to Bette Midler as a child, and speak at length about their fantasy of being Better Midler’s stage manager, and helping her through the exhaustion of being Bette Midler. These sorts of quirky insights into existing as a queer person and an addict are spread throughout the set, giving you a personal glimpse of Martin’s life and identity — plus a bunch of healthy, introspective laughs.

Where to stream: Netflix

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