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  • Writer's pictureStand-Up Comedy Historian

10 Fantastic Queer Comedy Specials

Updated: Jul 4

Happy Pride Month! 🌈

As someone who identifies as queer, I am always aiming to champion other LGBTQ people on my website, particularly those who've made it in the straight male-dominated world of stand-up comedy.

And while I've touched on a few queer comics (namely Kate Berlant and Jerrod Carmichael, as seen with Bo Burnham in this photo from Circle Jerk two years ago during NY's Pride Week), I wanted to promote other comedians whose works I've enjoyed over the years.

Check them out, and let me know your favorites!

1) Rothaniel—Jerrod Carmichael (streaming on Max)

If there is only one queer comedy special you watch on this list, make it this one. Jerrod comes out of the closet to a handful of audience members (including me!) and, in the process, he and director Bo Burnham craft a modern masterpiece. And no, it was NOT snowing that night!

Most FABULOUS moment: Get that baby some PrEP! (I remember dying laughing at that joke in person)

2) Nanette—Hannah Gadsby

(streaming on Netflix)

Hannah is a force to be reckoned with, and in this deconstructive comedy special, the Australian lesbian comic lays down some hard truths about what makes a joke funny. It's a harrowing and hilarious performance that rocked the comedy world and, as such, is essential viewing.

Most FABULOUS moment: The jaw-dropping twist when Hannah explains how comedy REALLY works. I remember being blown away!

3) I'm the One that I Want—Margaret Cho

(not currently streaming, but I was able to watch it in chunks on Dailymotion)

Dressed in pink from head to toe, Margaret discusses her time on All-American Girl (her sitcom that I adored as a kid) and the dark side of show business that shocked me as a young adult before MeToo. Oh, and she's also hilarious as always!

Most FABULOUS moment: I can't stop hearing her saying "WASH YOUR VAGINA" in that voice.

4) Sweet and Salty—Fortune Feimster

(streaming on Netflix)

In this fantastic performance set in a church (!) in North Carolina, Fortune spins her tale of being an obese child obsessed with food, the moment she realized she was gay, and coming out to her then-conservative mother.

Most FABULOUS moment: Fortune recounting her 18th birthday at Hooters (complete with a sea of bouncing titties surrounding her)

5) Drawn—Tig Notaro

(streaming on Max)

I'll watch any comedy thing animated (anyone else recall Shorties Watchin' Shorties?), so my interest was definitely piqued when I heard the fantastic Tig Notaro was doing a cartoon-infused special for HBO. And it did not disappoint! The main act on stage in particular reminds me of the late, great Ricky Gervais Show, and the variety of animated styles is a real treat to watch.

Most FABULOUS moment: Tig's hospital bed proposal (the animation really nails how grotesque she must have felt)

6) Hair Plugs and Heartache—Matteo Lane

(streaming for free on YouTube)

My sister Jill told me about Matteo when I had just started working on my website and was expanding it to include other comedic voices besides Bo. She told me this special filmed at the Comedy Cellar is hilarious and FREE on YouTube, and she was absolutely right! Definitely a fun watch and, hey—it won't cost you a dime.

Most FABULOUS moment: Matteo talking about his new, incredibly fragile baby hairs

7) The Advice Special trilogy—Matteo Lane

(all three parts are streaming on YouTube, with the third one having just come out this month for Pride—woo-hoo!)

This three-part phenomenon won't be new to followers of Matteo's social media (which I urge you to check out—he made a Cathy Mitchell infomercial recipe and it was hysterical), but for those out of the loop, Matteo is the master of crowd work. Especially when asked about relationships both straight and queer!

Most FABULOUS moment: The first epic question that leads to multiple shocking revelations as the audience member unfolds his tale of hooking up with his next-door neighbor. Although that moment is closely tied to Matteo's gorgeous rendition of "Ave Maria"!

8) Have It All—Taylor Tomlinson

(streaming on Netflix)

Why is Taylor on this list, you might ask? Well, in her most recent special, she discusses being bisexual (a topic that obviously interests me as a bi woman in her 40s). Taylor is as quick-witted and entertaining as ever, and you gotta love her Pink Lady-esque jacket!

Most FABULOUS moment: Taylor compares cunnilingus to learning the piano (and says she's an expert at the clarinet in comparison).

9) Now More Than Ever—John Early

(streaming on Max)

John Early first came into my periphery with his millennial gay stereotype in the form of Elliott Goss on Search Party. Since then, I have followed his career closely, and I of course drank in his first comedy special with gusto. One-third concert with the Lemon Squares, one-third stand-up, and the final third John's perfected cringe comedy (including his signature fainting), the special delivers on all points and is so fun to watch. Shout out to "moist" and the disco ball—they reminded me of Inside and The Inside Outtakes, obviously haha.

Most FABULOUS moment: the three-part harmony for "I Feel Love" that closes the show. Incredible!

10) Cinnamon in the Wind—Kate Berlant

(streaming on Hulu)

And to round out the list, another bi female comic I adore. I was lucky enough to meet Kate in person last year and told her how much I enjoyed her in all the things (particularly the Emmy-nominated Would It Kill You to Laugh? with John Early) and of course this special. Filmed in black and white, Kate mixes her condescending character work with silly physical comedy and some impressive dance moves. Plus, there's ESP fun!

Most FABULOUS moment: Flipping off hidden cameras. I LOVE that she included that bit in the immersive experience of KATE!

Bonus: Wanda Sykes CC Presents when she was still in the closet (the first episode of the long-running program). I watched this MANY times and was shocked when she came out of the closet later on...I was so naive.

I hope you enjoy watching these 10+ specials, and keep it here for more queer comedy fun!

My outfit for a local Pride festival in 2022, the year I came out to my parents

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