The Most Essential Streaming Services For Comedy Fanatics, Ranked
For comedy fans, not all streaming services are created equal. Some streamers produce great original comedy series. Others double down on stand-up specials. Still more have massive libraries full of classic comedy IP. The best have all three. Subscribing to every dang service would cost you an arm and a funny bone, so here’s a guide to help you make an informed buy…
Look, there are a lot of good reasons to subscribe to Disney+. If you’re a Marvel-head, a Star Wars geek or the exhausted parent of a hyperactive toddler, it’s pretty much essential. But if you’re a comedy fan, Disney+ is the last place you want to spend your dollars. Across all three categories, the pickings are slim.
Original Comedy Content: Hmm. How do you feel about She-Hulk: Attorney-at-Law?
Stand-Up Specials: Nope.
Classic Comedy: If you have kids (or you’re a big kid yourself), there’s the entire laugh-worthy library of Disney and Pixar classics. Grown-ups will have a tougher time, with only family-friendly fare like Steve Martin’s Cheaper by the Dozen and the Home Alone series to keep you company. But one gem makes Disney+ worth considering: The entire freaking run of The Simpsons.
To be honest, The Simpsons almost vaulted Disney+ over Apple TV+ . But because Apple TV+ makes at least a minimal effort in all three categories, it gets the #7 nod.
Original Comedy Content: Only one service on this list boasts the winner of the last two Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Series, Ted Lasso, so good job, Apple. There’s more quality than quantity on the rest of the list, but you do get The Problem with Jon Stewart, Shrinking and The Morning Show.
Stand-Up Specials: You could do worse than old reruns of Comedy Central Presents. Not a lot worse, but it’s something.
Classic Comedy: Apple TV+ offers surprisingly few movie options. We searched for “comedy movies” and got 18 choices. At least you get free two-day shipping.
Amazon Prime Video
With so much money invested in its Lord of the Rings series, Amazon doesn’t have much left for comedy, apparently.
Original Comedy Content: On the one hand, Amazon can boast about The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Fleabag. On the other hand, that’s it.
Stand-Up Specials: More than you’d think! Amazon is investing in original specials from comics like Jimmy O. Yang, Nate Bargatz, and Jim Gaffigan while offering a bunch of oldies but goodies. If you wanted to pull a stand-up all-nighter, Amazon could get you through.
Classic Comedy: You can catch a few classic comedy movies like Bridesmaids and Election this month on your Prime account, but you won’t scroll long before Amazon starts trying to convince you Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a comedy.
Another toss-up, as Peacock doesn’t have a lot more to offer than Amazon Prime. Its classic catalog is pretty dang robust, however, earning Peacock the #5 slot on our list.
Original Comedy Content: Not as much as you’d think, A.P. Bio fans. Girls5eva got a lot of critical love, but after Peacock cut it loose, the ladies boogied over to Netflix. Poker Face is promising, but it’s more Columbo than comedy. Does anyone think Bel-Air is fresh (or even a comedy)?
Stand-Up Specials: Virtually none.
Classic Comedy: Two words: The Office. Okay, a few more words: The latest Saturday Night Live episodes show up here just hours after broadcast, and you can stroll through 48 seasons worth of content, including the year you were in seventh grade and the show was still funny. If you’re a sitcom fan, you’ve struck gold with classics like Cheers and Brooklyn Nine-Nine as well as all-time oldies like The Dick Van Dyke Show and Carol Burnett. The comedy movie selection, however, is meh.
Let’s start with Only Murders in the Building, a reason to subscribe on its own. As for the rest…
Original Comedy Content: Hulu doesn’t exactly make Letterkenny but for all practical purposes, it’s your American source. Extra points for other weird/funny stuff like PEN15 and M.O.D.O.K, as well as familiar rescues and retreads like The Mindy Project and How I Met Your Father.
Stand-Up Specials: Man, those Comedy Central Presents specials get around.
Classic Comedy: Hulu isn’t the motherlode for classic comedy movies, but you’re in luck if you crave sitcom comfort food like How I Met Your Mother, 30 Rock and King of the Hill.
Wait a minute, someone is actually endorsing Paramount+? For comedy fans, the service offers just enough to make it intriguing.
Original Comedy Content: “Original” might not be the word, but credit Paramount+ for shelling out for new episodes of South Park, Beavis and Butthead and Inside Amy Schumer. Star Trek: Lower Decks is another hidden gem.
Stand-Up Specials: Here we are again with the Comedy Central library, which includes some classics from John Mulaney, Bo Burnham and Hannibal Buress. Because Paramount actually owns Comedy Central, the selection here is more robust than on the previous services.
Classic Comedy: Paramount+ has a monster library of comedy movie titles, including more laughers that start with the letter A than you can find in the entire Apple TV+ catalog. If you needed enough comedy movies to get you through, say, a pandemic, you could do a lot worse than Paramount+.
If stand-up is your comedy thing, Netflix is the streamer for you. Each month delivers a new killer lineup of comics, both the ones you know and the new names you’re hungry to discover. The original content ain’t bad either, with a new season of I Think You Should Leave on the way and original movies like Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. If you want to know what’s next, check out the Netflix is a Joke Twitter feed.
Original Comedy Content: Netflix doesn’t hit it out of the park every time it does an original show, but we’re here for I Think You Should Leave, Big Mouth and Murderville. We’re still trying to make up our minds about You People.
Stand-Up Specials: Expect fireworks next month when Chris Rock does the first-ever live stand-up show on streaming. Just last year alone, Netflix brought the noise from Gabriel Iglesias, Bill Burr, Ali Wong, Hasan Minhaj, Taylor Tomlinson, Patton Oswalt, Trevor Noah, Fortune Feimster, Nick Kroll, David Spade, Chelsea Handler, Ronny Chieng, Ricky Gervais, and we’re not even halfway through the list.
Classic Comedy: You can still catch old episodes of Netflix originals like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Master of None and BoJack Horseman. Throw in a rotating roster of nostalgia darlings like Arrested Development, New Girl, Community, and of course, Seinfeld.
The winner and still champion, based on not only current offerings but its decades-long history of killer original content. While HBO was the first pay-TV service to offer uncut movies, you can argue it built its reputation — and many of America’s comedy clubs — on the back of its commitment to comedy.
Original Comedy Content: No other service comes close to the quality of comedy shows currently in production, an all-star line-up that includes Curb Your Enthusiasm, White Lotus, Barry, The Sex Lives of College Girls and Hacks. If you want to call Succession a comedy, you won’t get an argument from us.
Stand-Up Specials: HBO Max can’t compete with Netflix these days in terms of brand-new stand-up specials, but it’s still punching away. There was no better stand-up showcase in 2022 than Jerrod Carmichael’s Rothaniel, and a scroll through HBO Max’s comic offerings is like a history course covering the last 50 years of American comedy. Unassailable (despite the inexplicable number of Bill Maher specials).
Classic Comedy: HBO Max’s library is overstuffed with other networks’ sitcoms and classic Warner Bros. comedy movies. But why bother when you can rewatch HBO originals Mr. Show, The Larry Sanders Show, Veep, Insecure, Sex and the City, Girls, Silicon Valley and Flight of the Conchords? Mic drop.