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6 Terrific Specials From 6 Very Different Comics, Streaming Now

Jenny Slate, ‘Seasoned Professional’

(Amazon Prime Video)

Wearing a bow tie, pocket handkerchief, crop top and shorts, Jenny Slate stands on a shiny circular platform on the distressed BAM Harvey theater stage. It’s an image of sharp contrasts, the kind you find in her comedy, where commonplace subjects are imbued with manic, absurd charisma. Her version of relatable is asking: “You know that one feeling when you can tell you’re going to pass away?”

Whereas her debut special incorporated documentary elements, this hour effectively captures the improvisational eccentricity of her live act. Slate is blessed with a spectacularly nimble comic voice. She’s also a deft physical comedian, and her best bits show off both traits. When trying to describe the strangeness of giving birth, she likens it to the discomfort of being invited to audition for Pennywise the evil clown. Rattled, she expresses the shame at being considered for the part by flapping her hands, looking perplexed (“That couldn’t be the murdering, kidnapping, balding male clown, right?”), doing a creepy impression of the character as well as the meeting among producers that led to this offer. It’s a screeching, sputtering display of kvetching that builds runaway comic momentum.

Dan Soder, ‘On the Road’

(YouTube)

While most specials go too long, this one, at 39 tightly funny minutes, is just right. Punchy, diverting, varied, it’s a perfect pick-me-up for your lunch hour. In clothes as casual as his delivery, Dan Soder presents himself as a laid-back people-pleaser, the kind of guy aiming for a specific kind of dumb. As he puts it, he wants to see a trailer for a new “Fast and Furious” movie and be shocked that they found a way to go faster. But make no mistake: His lightness requires heavy effort. And his comedic tool kit is full, featuring sharp impressions (Batman villain, Enrique Iglesias), melancholy notes and clever phrasemaking. In a story illustrating the childhood joy of curse words, he says this line with a genuine (and ridiculous) sense of nostalgia: “I was 8 years old, just out having a cuss.”

Cara Connors, ‘Straight for Pay’

(Apple TV+)

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