Reed Hastings used to say he wanted to become HBO before HBO became Netflix. I think you can call this a mission accomplished. With well over 400 original titles and exclusives in its catalog, Netflix has no rivals in this department, only competitors. The place where Netflix is beginning to shine very bright though is stand up comedy.
HBO was once the Meca of Stand up comedy. It was the home of the groundbreaking Def Comedy Jam, which
brought a number of African American performers like Chris Tucker into the comedy mainstream and giving voice to Martain Lawrence. HBO was one of the only places where comedians didn’t have to tone down the content or language the way they would on say The Tonight Show WIth Johny Carson. Another HBO hit, One Night Stand, allowed many of the most well-known names in the industry to break it big including Bill Maher, Louis C.K., D.L Hughley and Ellen DeGeneres. While the HBO specials were not the first time any of the comedians appeared on TV, landing the HBO gig was hitting the big leagues.
Besides its comedy show series, HBO has also featured comedians at the top of their fame. In some cases, the same people who became household names on One Night Stand or Def Comedy Jam returned as giants in the industry to rave review. Now, the place to show your status is Netflix.
When Dave Chapelle returned to TV for Standup he landed on Netflix, Chris Rock just recently dropped his special on the Streaming network and none other than Jerry Seinfeld even used the platform to return to his comedy roots. In 2017 Ellen Degenerous announced that she will be doing an upcoming (no date set) special on Netflix. Def Comedy Jam is also now a Netflix property. Name a top comedian today and try not to find them on Netflix. Its possible, but it might be because they are in the middle of a negotiation.
HBO still has comedy specials. But the days of the premium network being the main destination for these kinds of things is long past.
Why Is Netflix Becoming The Place For Comedy?
If you want to be seen you have to go where the people are. And Netflix has over 100 million subscribers worldwide. Netflix is also willing to pay top dollar for the top talent. Chris Rock banked 20 million for his last special. The specials might lead to one big payday from Netflix, but the chance to reconnect with an audience that may long to see them again or even may have forgotten how funny these people actually are has to be a draw. So many comedians begin on stage and morph into talk show hosts and actors and in some cases, they may even feel like they have lost their creative voice. These specials give them a chance to reconnect with that and by appearing on Netflix, they nearly ensure that their original audience will be able to find them. Have you see _______ on Netflix has become the new conversation starter at work, Expect to see this continue to grow.