The holidays are bound to get you depressed. Relatives empty your fridge, the kids break your gifts, which weren’t that great anyway, and there is the looming reminder that one day soon your boss will expect you to show up again.
But don’t let the holidays get you down. Stand-up comedy is huge on streaming platforms and if you want local talent or the best international stars, it’s all a click away.
Trevor Noah: NationWild (Showmax)
South African stand-up comedy has been fighting hard to become bigger and better. It’s no surprise that someone of Trevor Noah’s calibre has popped out of the woodwork, because local comedians graft hard for their living.
Now Noah uses his star power to give more exposure to other local comedians. NationWild doesn’t feature the Daily Show host much. Instead, it’s a collection of comedians that opened for him during his local shows, tied together with short profiles on each.
Noah does a bit here and there, but the goal is to show us the rising talent of Mzansi – and it’s really funny. Thirteen comedians you’ve probably never heard of will turn into names you won’t forget.
Donald Glover: Weirdo (Netflix)
Entertainer Donald Glover is riding a tidal wave right now. His music has set the world on fire, he’s the voice of Simba in the brand-new live-action Lion King movie and he’s a funny guy too.
In fact, he was funny before he became super-famous, having shot this comedy special in 2012.
But if you are expecting his family-friendly persona from his role in Community, brace yourself. Glover is edgy, jumping energetically around the stage as he climbs into some serious and out-there topics. But always with a wink and a smile: he knows how to tell a funny joke and leave the audience in pieces.
The Roast of Somizi (Showmax)
Roasts are tricky. They are brutally mean and don’t always hit the mark. This has been true for a number of notorious local roasts, where various guests get a chance to rip off the other guests and, of course, the star of the evening.
Then the star gets to turn the insults the other way. This energy doesn’t always go down well, but the Comedy Central Roast of Somizi is an exception.
Mpho Pops kills with his opening warm-up set, then the real fun starts. Guests as varied as DJ Fresh, Ntsiki Mazwai and Kurt Darren join comedians like Skhumba Hlophe and Schalk Bezuidenhout, all hosted by shock-jock Gareth Cliff.
They all go at each other, then Somizi gets his turn. It’s funny stuff, but absolutely for adults only. And it won’t be to everyone’s taste.
Keep an eye out for another scorcher of a roast when rapper AKA takes the heat, coming to Showmax and Comedy Central on DStv in March 2019.
Russell Brand: ReBirth (Netflix)
Boy, has Russell Brand been through a journey or what? From sex beast to spiritual explorer, with more than a little controversy around drug abuse and political expression along the way.
Brand’s a guy you tend to love or hate and this show is not going to change your mind. But it’s actually one of his best as he walks the line between making fun of his own stupidity and peacocking like the rockstar we all know.
This is a more mature, “normal” Russell Brand – if such a thing is possible – and it fits him well. But that doesn’t mean he’s not still the same nutter!
The Degenerates (Netflix)
If you want the most out-there, “mind your own business” style of stand-up comedy, the land of liberty, heavy weaponry and apple pie is the home of degenerate comedians.
Six comics hit the stage at a Las Vegas club to give 30-minute routines, each becoming an episode. And, man, do they live up to the show’s title. It’s hard to point at anyone standing out, because they are all edgy, crude and disturbing – and utterly hilarious.
But if you need to know if this show’s for you, fire up the Joey Diaz episode. If he can’t scare you out of the room with his incredible stories, you are ready for the rest of these Degenerates.
Comedians of the World (Netflix)
On the first day of 2019, Netflix drops a funny bomb on us with a collection of stand-up from 13 different countries, including South Africa. It’s a mammoth to watch and should keep you well-supplied with laughs. In the South Africa collection, you’ll find Riaad Moosa, Tumi Morake, Loyisa Gola and Loyisa Madinga doing what they do best in 30-minute episodes of quality comedy.
Stand-up Specials: Kumail Nanijani, Ray Wood Junior and Natasha Leggero (Showmax)
Not to be outdone, Showmax delivers a triple delight with Beta Male by Kumail Nanjiani (who you’ll surely recognise from Silicone Valley), Ray Wood Junior, who serves as a correspondent on The Daily Show, in his act called Father Figure, and the fearless Natasha Leggero, with Live at Bimbo’s.