L.A. stand-up specials stand out in a yr of DIY comedy


It was a banner yr for stand-up followers in 2023, with the variety of hourlong specials launched clearing greater than 200 titles. Why such record-breaking output? For one, following the 2021 reopening of comedy venues, your entire trade clicked into the identical two-year-ish cycle typical of laboriously honing materials, filming, enhancing, releasing and selling.

“There was an enormous bump in stand-up as a result of all people was on strike,” notes “Snigger After Darkish” director Kelsey Borlan. With associate Robert E. Lee, Borlan independently produced seven 2023 specials from L.A. and Las Vegas comics, kicking off with Kalea McNeill at Santa Monica comedy membership the Crow. Moreover, she says, “Lots of people who’ve been within the recreation for a very long time are pleased with every thing they’ve achieved. And now, similar to with music and most inventive endeavors, the bar to entry has lowered and turn into extra egalitarian. It’s an impartial financial system.”

For the report:

11:59 a.m. Dec. 28, 2023An earlier model of this text acknowledged that Luenell’s stand-up particular aired on Max. It aired on Netflix.

Netflix ended the yr replete with specials from Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais, John Mulaney, Wanda Sykes, Bert Kreischer, Trevor Noah, Amy Schumer, Mo’Nique, Tom Segura, Andrew Santino, Hannah Gadsby, Mae Martin, Beth Stelling, Michelle Wolf, Jim Jefferies, Pete Holmes, Mike Birbiglia, Luenell (underneath the Chappelle’s Residence Staff banner) and extra. Lavell Crawford hit Showtime; Max added Marc Maron, Tracy Morgan, Marlon Wayans, Sarah Silverman, Sam Jay and John Early.

Elsewhere, Whitney Cummings continued her relationship with OnlyFans, OutTV featured Justin Martindale, and Zainab Johnson, Trevor Wallace and Jimmy O. Yang took to Prime. For each Kevin Hart or Chris Fleming particular on Peacock, followers may observe down Roseanne Barr and Rob Schneider on Fox Nation. Previous to autumn accusations of sexual assault, Russell Model went pay-per-view on Rumble, a platform that refers to itself as “resistant to cancel tradition.”

“It’s uncommon to get on these platforms,” director Delmar Washington says of bigger model distributors. “In the event you can, nice. But when not, self-distributing or going to a few of the smaller networks is simply as highly effective.” Washington’s “Microphone Masters” trio of specials from Kanisha Buss, Ron G and Brandon Lewis filmed at North Hollywood’s El Portal Theater in July and attain The Black Expertise on Comcast’s Xfinity this month.

Different December entries embrace Eagle Rock royalty Maria Bamford on AppleTV and Brian Posehn’s two-week unique run on Second. Veeps, a livestreaming platform owned by Stay Nation, introduced specials from L.A.-based comics Brad Williams, Blair Socci and Mo Welch. Taylor Williamson borrowed the Comedy Retailer’s Essential Room for a YouTube launch timed to Hanukkah.

A person in a sailor's hat holds a microphone

Matt Rife.

(Anthony Acero)

Matt Rife’s two 2023 specials proved the ability of self-producing and importing on to YouTube, boasting 18 million and 10 million views. The monetized streamer additionally helped native performers develop internationally, as demonstrated by L.A. expertise like Maz Jobrani, Bob the Drag Queen, Kelsey Prepare dinner, Nate Craig, Jamar Neighbors, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, Drew Lynch, Alex Nussbaum, Ian Bagg, Brad Wenzel, Tuesday Thomas, Nick Youssef, Jeremiah Watkins, Ryan Sickler, Jay Larson, Bret Ernst and up to date Vegas transplant Noah Gardenswartz. (Leah Rudick even paired her YouTube particular premiere with its launch with Apple and Prime.)

The most important profit, says Jesus Trejo, is “the liberty it presents,” which means “the flexibleness in enhancing and launch timing” along with “inventive liberty to form the particular’s feel and look, so long as you’ve gotten the means to carry the imaginative and prescient to life.”

Trejo’s 2020 debut hour, “Keep at Residence Son,” ran on Showtime. “I needed to make use of that data to create one thing new,” he says, selecting to take action on the Hollywood Improv Lab.

“There’s one thing actually magical concerning the journey an artist takes from only a spark of an thought — pondering, ‘I wish to create a self-produced comedy particular’ — to the second the place it’s a actuality, the add is full and folks can see it on YouTube,” says Trejo. “The cherry on prime was discovering out I used to be going to be returning to ‘The Tonight Present With Jimmy Fallon’ to carry out and promote my self-released particular.”

In 2018, “Snigger After Darkish” launched the primary impartial stand-up comedy on Amazon, says Borlan. “Comedy is like most issues in our society: There’s the 1%, after which there’s the 99. The majority of the trade is the 99.” Manufacturing and distribution are vital, however she calls advertising and marketing “a very powerful piece. You’re in a enterprise and you’re the enterprise, and it’s important to deal with it that method. It’s a must to change from seeing your self because the artist to the advertising and marketing supervisor.”

A woman in a gray suit holds a microphone onstage in a room with purple lighting

Kalea McNeill takes the stage on the Crow to movie her comedy particular.

(Arthur Hamilton)

Borlan calls YouTube “the democratization of creation, that it’s not solely a $100,000- greenback digital camera is the one solution to make issues occur, you could make it occur in your iPhone, and you may put it on YouTube and you may make a residing doing these issues.”

“There’s the flexibleness of not having to attend for the gatekeepers anymore,” agrees “Microphone Masters” host and govt producer Affion Crockett, whose 2019 debut was distributed by Kevin Hart’s LOL by way of Peacock, Xumo and extra. “The majors have whole management over every thing they usually’ll play your particular twice, they usually personal it outright, they usually can resolve to simply shelve it. Whenever you do it your self, you’ve gotten the chance to maintain replaying it or relicensing it, as a result of you’ve gotten the possession to take action.”

He credit Houston’s Ali Siddiq for “going on to YouTube and dropping an hourlong particular each quarter, it looks like. And his touring numbers are going up. He’s acquired thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of views.”

Director and govt producer Washington agrees. “It’s actually vital to take your individual profession and your individual IP in your individual palms,” he says. “Even all the way down to full inventive management of simply the way in which the set appears to be like, the lighting, the kind of viewers you wish to usher in.”

YouTube half-hours from the likes of Sarah Tiana, Natalie Cuomo and Omid Singh marked comparable profession development. “The benefit of getting a self-produced particular was holding 100% management of my artwork. I didn’t have anybody inform me what they suppose I ought to or shouldn’t do with my particular,” says Singh, the primary comedian to movie at Brad Garrett’s Comedy Membership (for a particular that Garrett additionally produced). “The disadvantages have been advertising and marketing, however the particular nonetheless managed to amass thousands and thousands of views on TikTok and Instagram. Due to Brad, I used to be in a position to put up clips on YouTube, monetize for the primary time and begin gaining subscribers.”

Even after Rife’s third comedy particular of 2023, “Pure Choice,” arrived in November on Netflix, the reception for his earlier self-released materials was far kinder than his debut on the big-time streamer (at present it’s rated at 17% on Rotten Tomatoes). Which, as stand-up content material continues trickling in at yr’s finish, marks a defining benefit of 2024’s imminent crop of DIY specials.

“Incomes a couple of bucks could be good, however that wasn’t my predominant purpose,” Trejo says of his output. “My dream has all the time been easy: to write down, to make individuals snort with my jokes, and to share my work with the world. Something past that could be a bonus.”


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