There’s no denying that it’s been tough finding the gumption to laugh in 2018. From what feels like 39 months that filled the calendar and made for a dragging year, to the more obvious state of affairs around the world that are being pasted on every screen we look at every day, from every angle — this year has been exhausting, and and not super heavy on the chuckle scale in the grand scheme of things.
But at least 10 comedians tried their damndest to make us smile in the midst of chaos this year, and many have helped us make sense of our own feelings toward the events taking place around us. We’ve compiled a list of comedians who accomplished those tasks in the best ways, and have, in turn, cemented, or continued to cement their legacies as masters of the craft. These are our favorite stand-up comedy specials from the past 12 months.
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Michelle Wolf, Nice Lady
Michelle Wolf had quite a year in 2018. From seeing a Netflix show come and go, to single-handedly changing the makeup of the White House Correspondents Dinner thanks to her brilliant dismemberment of the entire Trump administration. She’s had a full year, but it’s sort of strange that her newest album, Nice Lady, got the least amount of coverage out any of her creative endeavors. Debuting on HBO at the tail end of 2017, what would become of Wolf’s future was still well out of sight, which in a way means that she came into 2018 with the power already going full force.
Sticking to the same no-holds-barred social commentary approach that got her banned from telling jokes at an event that is meant for telling jokes, Wolf fills her hour-long album with an array of self-deprecating musings that poke fun at her own voice and hair, as well as a cornucopia of feminism-based jokes that both praise feminists, as well as pointing out the ridiculousness she also sees in the movement. Wolf’s refreshing lack of a filter makes the material even funnier, and while it may be seen, through some eyes, as sexist to make a big deal about the fact that she’s a woman in comedy — in an industry ruled by men, the power that Wolf exhibits in Nice Lady is quite inspiring, and representative of the year she has had.