Netflix Just Made It Way Easier To Watch Comedy

Photo: Vivien Killilea/Getty Images.
Netflix has a habit of "disrupting" things β€” your workday, your interest in doing anything besides sitting on your couch, the television industry β€” and today, it announced that it would disrupt the very format of comedy itself. The streaming service announced via Vulture that it will be releasing a series of 15-minutes stand up specials throughout the year. The series, still untitled, will tape in February in Atlanta. And then we'll have 15-minute stand up specials to look forward to for the rest of the year! Think: a special so short, you can watch it on a break at work.
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As of now, the lineup for the specials is impressive. Netflix tapped Aisling Bea, Michelle Buteau, Tim Dillon, JR De Guzman, Janelle James, Josh Johnson, Taylor Tomlinson, Phil Wang, Emma Willmann, Jak Knight, Matteo Lane, Max Silvestri, Sam Jay, Ian Karmel, and Kate Willett for the series. All are industry veterans at this point β€” Karmel writes for The Late Late Show with James Corden while Sam Jay is part of the 2017 batch of Saturday Night Live writers. Michelle Buteau, a regular on WYNC's Two Dope Queens, recently announced on the podcast that she would spearhead her own WNYC podcast, which is as-of-yet untitled. Both Taylor Tomlinson and Josh Johnson made their Conan debuts last year, and Janelle James is a writer on the BET late night show The Rundown with Robin Thede.
It's a weird move, shortening the specials to just 15 minutes each, but it makes sense. For most of comedy's heydey, clout came in the form of an hour-long special β€” a feat only accomplishable after years and years of developing material. A quarter hour of material is a lower barrier to entry. It's much easier for a young comic to develop a tight, Netflix-ready 15 than a full hour. (Or a half hour, as Comedy Central does with The Half Hour Presents.) As Jesse David Fox points out on Vulture, 15 is a standard set length at most comedy clubs, so even a fresh comic would have enough to audition for Netflix.
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It's worth noting that half of the comics listed above are women. Netflix has a lot of hour long specials, but the majority of them are from men. The notable exceptions include Ali Wong, Iliza Shlesinger, Chelsea Peretti, Sarah Silverman, and Jen Kirkman.
Sara Schaefer, a stand up veteran who performed in John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show, recalled on Twitter, "I remember a booker once telling me, after I suggested booking half women on his lineup, that this would be 'amoral' and 'unfair to the men.' Today Netflix announced 16 mini specials and HALF (1/2) (50%) went to women. This feels SO GOOD! Congrats to all."
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