Stand-up News
May 4, 2024


May 4, 2024

Mike Binder

Why is this year’s festival all about Tony Hinchcliffe? By the way, there’s no doubt that it is. Tony Hinchcliffe and Kill Tony are all over the city of Los Angeles this year in what feels like almost a form of a christening. While Netflix has literally lit up the heavens to make their stand up festival the most exquisite comedy festival of all times, it has also organically somehow turned into a combination stand up bar mitzvah and coronation for the little kid from Youngstown. The entire damn city, The Greek, The Hollywood Bowl, Chappell, and The Seinfeld lectures have all taken a backseat to the ascension of Tony Hinchcliffe, a mud slinging, pedal to the metal roaster, jester, heckler, and huckster, who somehow manages to stay extremely likable as the star of his own post-modern variety- talk show, that next to the Joe Rogan Experience, is the most important podcast let alone comedy program in the entertainment universe these days.

There is no one, save Rogan, that can right now make a stand up a star as bright, as fast, as current, and electric as Tony Hinchcliffe can. He’s already churned out at least three to five great new faces on the scene on his show, then brought them along on his sold out theater and arena stand up tours, taking complete unknowns like David Lucas, Hans Kim, William Montgomery, and quite a few others, giving them his imprint and confidence, turning them into top Comedy Club headliners and genuine ticket sellers with real wind at their backs to build solid careers going forward.


I think probably the number one reason is because Netflix needs Tony more than Tony needs Netflix. Don’t get me wrong. Netflix is still hot in stand up. They’re still the big dicked player in the paid streaming game. Especially seeing as how Showtime and Comedy Central tapped out, HBO got dry humped into being known as MAX, makes maybe four specials a year while also having some seriously shitty taste.  (Nikki Glaser? Really? Was Angelyne busy that week?)

The real thing though, as hot as Netflix is, the reason they had to make this Willy Wonka Oompa Loompa sized festival is because they know damn well their days with a massive amount of power in stand up streaming-ville are numbered.  They’re like Marvel, and Lucasfilms, trying to figure out where to go when they run out of stand up sidewalk. What do with their billions and their egos when this version of the party moves on. How to keep in the game without spending stupid money, which is how they got into it, but don’t seem to want to do that anymore.

They can make an unknown a little hot with their assortment packet fifteen minute Young Comedian type specials, but if you’re not steaming ahead full speed already with a couple killer Youtube specials or a hot podcast or podcast appearances first, (Matt Reeves, Leanne Morgan, Shane Gillis, etc) you can sadly have a dynamite one hour Netflix special and drop straight into the algorithm rabbit hole of Netflix’s custom made abyss. (Paul Virzi, Red Ollero, Brian Simpson,  Donell)  and I dare you to find Speshy Weshy or whatever that was called up there . A funny but a ‘not yet known stand up’ can see his dream of a Netflix special come true, only to come to feel he was better off projecting it to the neighbors on the broad side of his parents garage. The need to today get on Netflix feels similar to a comic ten years ago longing for a sitcom pilot or a tonight show spot. She needed it because it was what the people coming up before her had and did. The trail that was taken earlier, but it wasn’t the necessarily best way one to grow or to bloom on.


No, I’m not saying it’s not any good to have a Netflix special these days. It just means it isn’t what some newer comics think it is, and it won’t do for them what they hope it will. That’s a problem for them, and a bigger problem for Netflix. Not for the big names. Netflix is still the place for them for now as long as they continue to pay something for the big names, and they need them to keep the subscribers up. The smarter stand ups on the trail behind the present day hot shots though will find other ways to make it to the top of the hill before they cash in on a Netflix special, if they ever do. They’ll do their own thing and give it away free on Youtube and Tubi and Pluto, and anywhere they can in order to sell tickets and build a fan base, get out there and tour, rinse and repeat, until they’re in the driver’s seat like a Matt Rife,  Leanne Morgan, or others have.


Killer shots on Tony Hinchcliffe, Rogan, Theo, Tiger Belly, Bad Friends, or Are You Garbage, can do more these days then a non-erupting Netflix special. Way more. A great weekend at Skankfest? Brian Holtzman has a strong Youtube special, Mothership love, Skankfest stench, twenty years of running up hill, with zero Netflix affection of any kind. He’s selling more tickets than a lot of comics that are Netflix’s new love children.

The paradigm has so shifted that it has made sense for Netflix to take a sledgehammer and a blowtorch and build their face into the side of  the Mount Rushmore of Stand up festivals just for the sake of relevancy with the new stand ups and the new fans that may be tuned into Netflix for now  but may already have a foot or two out the door. Getting the cream of the new crop to participate isn’t a done deal if Tony himself and Kill Tony aren’t front and center in your giant dog and pony show.  Having Tony at the head of the parade meant Netflix knew which way the wind was blowing. Other than Rogan who is unattainable, no one can help them slow the long slow march out of Berlin that is inevitably coming one way or another. No one. Not Jerry, not Ricky, Not even doubling down on Dave’s like Letterman and Chappelle.

There’s only one forward thinking move, and it’s Tony, and that’s the reason for the inauguration.


A show that sold out faster than you can switch off a Hannah Gadsby special. (If that’s her on the cover. It may be Truman Capote.)

Tony and his new found buddies at Netflix, didn’t stop with instantly selling out the Youtube theatre. He went on to sell out the Forum then add a return to the main room of the Comedy Store for shits and giggles. He’s also going to be a main player I’m sure when he appears on his long time friend and early mentor Jeff Ross’s Tom Brady Roast which is live today on Netflix. So basically, all week is TONY HINCHCLIFFE IS NOT A JOKE WEEK.

It’s nice. Sweet. When I did the Comedy Store doc, we did a piece on Tony and he and I sat on the stage and he talked about how he built his show and his career from a doorman and up in the belly room with the help of Mitzi,  Joe Rogan, folks like Jeff Ross, and Whitney Cummings to become a major force at the store, but he was sure back then he needed Netflix or a network or someone to take him all the way. He didn’t. 

He and his pal Brian Redban built something so unique, that has grown so organically, that if Joe is in fact the Johnny Carson for stand ups today, Kill Tony is the new SNL and it’s just getting started. He’s not only made himself a powerhouse, he’s going to make another fifty or so others forces to be reckoned with before he’s done. Watch.


Someone at one of these monster corporate tech studio gorilla’s is going to come knocking very soon to get a piece of Tony. I don’t know who it is. Apple? Spotify? Hulu? Google? Youtube? Netflix? Kleenex?

I do know that’s the way it works now. They wait for you to build it, then they come in and pay. I will say this to my friend, Tony, don’t just say yes. You’ve worked too hard. You have something too important. Think it over long and well, and when you say yes, make them pay, of course, but more importantly make them do it your way. You’re worth it. You’re like Halley’s comet. A hot new phenom comic comes along every year or two. A star making comedy vehicle with a voice, a base, an innate forward sense of the media, the medium, and art form?

Once every 75-79 years.

If they don’t understand that, they’re too rich, too old, or too stupid, and you want nothing to do with them.