Netflix just dropped over 20 hours of stand-up with their new global comedy event Comedians of the World. The event may be some Americans’ first experience of stand-up comedy from other countries but in different languages. The series showcases half-hour sets from 47 different comedians in 13 different regions in 8 different languages. With almost a full day’s worth of content, Comedians of the World can feel daunting, but Laughspin is here to break it down to find the right region for you.
The US section of the program is similar to any other American-produced series of half-hour specials, though it features veteran headliner comedians. Neal Brennan, Chris D’Elia, Nick Swardson, and Nicole Byer all perform new material you should not miss! No subtitles needed for these acts.
The interesting thing about the Canadian section of the show is that Netflix breaks it into two sections: an English collection and a French collection. No comedians overlap between the two sections and the stages show that the shows happened at two different locations.
Most Americans will have seen stand-up from the U.K. before. From Eddie Izzard to Ricky Gervais, stand-up from across the pond has made it to American audiences for decades. Strangely enough, one of the U.K. comics is Mae Martin, a Canadian actor and comedian living in Europe. The choice to include a Canadian in the U.K. section and not the Canadian section shows that Netflix wants to show the comedy scene in the regions rather than the nationality of the comedians.
Australia and New Zealand
Australia has been a hot spot for comedy since the 1980s with the rise of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Melbourne is now the third largest international comedy festival in the world. The section features the Melbourne-based Joel Creasey and Nazeem Hussain, New Zealander Cal Wilson, and the Auckland-based Urzila Carlson. Carlson shows that Netflix is interested in showcasing comedy scenes rather than repping nationalities. The comic is originally from South Africa.
The last of the English-speaking sections of the show, most of the comedians talk about the racial makeup of South Africa through jokes about race, white privilege, and regional dialects. Oddly enough, the sets were filmed in North America. While Netflix doesn’t disclose where the majority of the sets were filmed, they note that this is Tumi Morake’s “first North American performance.”
While two of the three comedians tell jokes in English, Amit Tandon is the first comic in the series to do a complete set in another language. Even though his special is in Hindi, it is not difficult to watch if you do not speak it. His cadence, if nothing else, punctuates where his jokes end especially because most of his comedy is very relatable and about being a dad.
Spanish comedy is nothing new. There is a long history of groundbreaking comedy programming in Spanish. Comedy Central Latinoamérica has been presenting Comedy Central Stand-Up Mexico for five seasons, a show where Franco Escamilla, Gaby Llanas, and Hugo El Cojo Feliz have already been featured on before their Comedians of the World sets.
Germany and comedy are not words that Americans often use together, but the Germany section of the series will convince you otherwise. The first set from Iranian-German comedian Enissa Amani has a meta moment about her nervousness representing German comedy and her past Netflix special being watched in other countries, which feels exactly right in a series that props up three to four comedians to represent whole regions.
In 2011, The Guardian published an article with the headline, “Brazil’s stand-up comics lead social revolution against powerful elites.” Eight years later, the comedians in this section have brought a far more relatable set of jokes. From jokes about Uber to pharmacy shopping, Americans will relate to much of the humor. The only difficult thing to understand in this section is how fast one comic, Alfonso Padhila, talks. Don’t worry: that’s what subtitles are for.
Filmed in Canada, the France section is notable for picking very diverse comedians to represent the region. Muslim comic Jason Brokerrs and Shirley Souagnon, whose family is originally from the Ivory Coast, as well as the rest of the France region, show an amazing cross-section of the different ethnicities that make up the country. The comedians shine even though they must deal with the slight divide between the audience’s Canadian French and their native French for France.
The Middle East
This is the first section that represents a full region rather than one or two nations. Two of the comedians are from Saudi Arabia—Ibraheem Alkhairallah and Moayad Alnefaie—while Adi Khalefa is from Palestine and Rawsan Hallak is from Jordan. The multiple countries represented gives a larger view of the region than some of the more country-specific sections. With Netflix recently pulling an episode for their show Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj at the behest of the Saudi Arabian government, if a similar request will come for Alkhairallah and Alnefaie’s sets.
Having four European regions covered (while, for example, not showcasing a single East Asian comedy scene) might feel like overkill, but the Netherlands proves to have its own unique voice. The comedians from this scene showcase an amazing amount of energy. Soundos El Ahmadi, Martijn Koning, and Rayen Panday serve as a nice introduction to the region.