How Netflix is Changing Comedy

In 2017, we are in the midst of yet another comedy boom. From stand-up comedy clubs sprouting up across the country in the 80s to cable television networks like Comedy Central gaining prominence in the 90s, there has always been a steady demand for comedy in America. Now, a new frontier for comedy has arisen, and no one is navigating it better than Netflix.

The internet has always been a place for comedy. Memes circulate on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook and funny cat videos still generate millions of views on YouTube. Steadily, streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon gained prominence and evolved into multi-million dollar corporations in a short period of time. Netflix, in particular, was so successful because they understood the concept of availability. At any time, a Netflix user may log on to their account and browse the hundreds of TV shows and movies available on Netflix. This idea took off, and with it, the comedy industry was reborn.

HBO has been airing stand-up specials for 40 years, and Comedy Central has for decades as well. However, in 2017, Netflix is set to air over 50 comedy specials, with a new one coming every week. In this year alone, Netflix is premiering specials from Louis C.K, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle and Jim Gaffigan. In an interview with the Breakfast Club radio show, Neal Brennan states the reasons for doing a stand-up special on Netflix. He cites the fact that Netflix is in 190 countries, they have great features on their app, and they pay a TON of money. Brennan said that Chris Rock called and wouldn’t even say the amount of money he was being paid out loud because it was so much. Netflix, now in only its sixth year of trying to woo comics, has effectively taken over the genre.

Netflix is certainly dominating the comedy genre, providing unique availability to over 100 comedy specials at the click of the button. But what does that mean to the most famous comedy clubs across the country? Well, one thing that clubs can promise that Netflix cannot is the next Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Chappelle, and Chris Rock. Surely, all comics of that caliber will be featured on Netflix one day, but those comics all got their start at tiny comedy venues across the country. Comedy clubs still remain as relevant and important as ever for churning out the talent you see on your computer screen.

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