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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Trevor Noah, Son of Patricia
The last two stand-up specials to come from Trevor Noah were good, but not Son of Patricia good. The Daily Show host really has stepped up his stage game with his newest hour of material, and by coming off a bit more candid about his life growing up in South Africa with his mother, and the bizarre idea of what a “true Balinese experience” tour entails, a whole new layer is added to Noah’s already brilliant comedic chops. Noah uses his usual digs on the Trump administration and American politics in general as a secondary approach, and instead focuses on giving viewers a glimpse into the thought process of someone who never had taco trucks around him, knows to avoid snakes at a “snake whisperer” show, and who avoids camping because it’s too close to how he and his family lived as a kid. Noah’s ability to balance his relaxed stage presence with his periodic outbursts of energy show just how much his stand-up cred has improved over the years, and if Son of Patricia is any inclination of how Noah’s stand-up career is going to be from here on out, well, maybe it’s best to strap in and prepare for a great follow-up.