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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Adam Sandler, 100% Fresh
A lot has changed since Adam Sandler last sat behind a microphone, but one thing that hasn’t changed is Adam Sandler. With his classic mix of skit comedy, storytelling, and musical ambition, Sandler unleashed 100% Fresh on the world, and in the process helped us remember what made us love him (or loathe him) in the first place. His approach of short blurbs and quirky songs still holds its weight after all these years (“Phone, Wallet, Keys” is the should-be classic we didn’t know we needed) and he’s even stepped his game up a bit in the process. For example, there’s a song about Chris Farley towards the end of the special that is heartbreakingly sweet. Sandler’s approach to what constitutes as a stand-up special also helps this film stand out from the rest of the bunch, as he doesn’t film it in one set venue, and he really brings it as close to a rock show as comedy show can get.