Netflix divides its more than 93 million worldwide subscribers into what it calls “taste communities” instead of socioeconomic, age-based demographics. Even so, statistics accrued by third parties indicate that the streaming giant’s biggest bases are on the younger side. And while critics and experts can argue all day about what any of this means for their plans to release 700 original films and shows in 2018 alone, it’s readily obvious that a sizable chunk of it is comedic. From its seemingly constant stream of comedy specials and micro-specials to late night-style talk shows, Netflix and its users just can’t get enough of stand-up.
Enter the second season of The Standups, which is now available to stream on the platform. On the heels of last summer’s first entry — which featured half-hour sets from Deon Cole, Nikki Glaser, Dan Soder, Fortune Feimster, Beth Stelling, and Nate Bargatze — the show’s sophomore run includes new routines from Rachel Feinstein, Kyle Kinane, Joe List, Brent Morin, Aparna Nancherla, and Gina Yashere. We spoke with four of the featured comedians about their turn on The Standups, but considering the program’s designed binge-worthiness and the aforementioned youngness of Netflix subscribers, Feinstein seems to have cracked the code.
“We all want Netflix. We all want to work with them now because that’s where everybody’s watching comedy,” she explains. “People aren’t watching TV in that elderly way anymore, on Friday nights at 8:00 when everyone sits down together. That doesn’t really happen anymore. It’s probably the way my parents, Karen and Howie do it. They’re not going to understand how to find this special. I don’t think they even have Netflix. We’re trying to explain it to them, but it’s a lot of long-winded, confusing conversations. Then again, they still think they can’t both have their own Facebook profiles. They share one.”
Sure, Feinstein’s making a big assumption here on behalf of her parents and all other older TV viewers, but the known numbers don’t lie. The fact that a second season of the The Standups even exists is a testament to this, as Netflix wouldn’t have greenlit another batch of half-hour comedy specials if the first season hadn’t proven successful. Aside from crunching its closely-guarded viewership numbers, however, the streamer also has former Just For Laughs Comedy Festival programming wizard Robbie Praw to thank for the show’s success. He roped in many of the first season’s comedians, and he did the same for the second go-round.
“Robbie Praw got me started at Just for Laughs when he was running that. He was a big instrument in getting me a career and getting me out of the production assistant game,” says Morin. “Then he moved over to Netflix and he was the motherfucker who called me and was like, ‘Listen, Brent. I know your ego’s gonna step in the way about this.’ I was like, ‘Robbie, I already said yes. I wanna do The Standups.’ He was calling me too, trying to convince me. I was like, ‘Robbie, I wanna do this. I need to get rid of this shit.’ My stand-up is therapy with laughs, so I need to fucking not think about certain things. I need to just get it out.”
Praw, who asked fellow comedian and friend Nikki Glaser to do the first season at the taping for Amy Schumer’s Leather Special, brought Feinstein on with the help of Netflix Director of Original Standup Comedy Programming JoAnn Grigioni. “She booked me with my first Comedy Central special, then moved over to Netflix. Between her and Robbie, I’ve had some longtime friends in the business and I’m just excited that they’re at Netflix now.” As for Nancherla and List, the Just For Laughs alum recruited them at various stages of the show’s production — and their’s.
“I think I had actually been in consideration the first time around, but I was still working on material so I was like, ‘I think I’ll just wait,'” Nancherla explains. “This time around they came to me again and I felt I was in a better place to do it. I had better idea of what I wanted to do, so it kind of happened naturally. Robbie was great in reaching out. I saw him the day of, but he was kind of running around. I think he’s very good at being aware of who’s out there and who’s doing what, and I think he has a good vision. It’s a good balance in terms of the different styles and personalities we all have.”