The 50 Funniest Stand-Up Specials of All Time

This Saturday night promises to be a big one for comedy geeks. First off, Comedy Central is airing Bill Cosby: Far From Finished, the legendary comedian and sitcom star’s first new comedy special in over 25 years. Meanwhile, over on HBO, Sarah Silverman is starring in her first special for the network, We Are Miracles. Though the two comedians couldn’t be more different, both specials feel like landmarks: innovative, intelligent, and brilliantly funny. To celebrate this big night for televised stand-up, we put together the definitive list of great comedy specials created for television, home video, or digital (theatrically released concert films, like Silverman’s Jesus Is Magic, Cosby’s Himself, and — sadly — most of Richard Pryor’s filmed work, don’t qualify). Here’s our 50 best, of all time, with a couple of extras to boot:

Honorable Mention #1 Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles

It’s feels too soon to place the new Cosby and Silverman specials in the stand-up canon, but they also shouldn’t be excluded solely due to freshness. Silverman re-teams with Liam Lynch, who directed her theatrically released stand-up/musical mash-up Jesus Is Magic, and shot her new act at the 39-seat small room at Los Angeles’ Largo (ridiculed for the size of the space in the prologue, she roars, “It’s called intimate, fuckface!”). In the hour that follows, Silverman forges new territory, quietly dropping — with only occasional exceptions — the oblivious, egocentric character of her earlier act and forging a relationship with her audience that is more honest and direct. It’s a smart and funny hour, covering topics from porn preferences and religion to rape jokes and her complicated relationship with the word “pussy.”