It’s hard to believe the best comedy show in Los Angeles is held in the back of a comic book store. But it’s true. The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail, hosted by Jonah Ray and Kumail Nanjiani, is a weekly mecca for L.A. comedy fans, showcasing a mix of some of the best young comedians and well-known veterans.
As part of the New York Comedy Festival, Ray and Nanjiani took the show cross-country to the Gramercy Theatre, boasting a formidable lineup of Eugene Mirman, Pete Holmes, Chelsea Peretti, Jared Logan and, as billed, some surprise guests: Jim Gaffigan and Hannibal Buress.
Ray and Nanjiani opened the show with some solid riffing about college and horror movies before giving way to Holmes, whose best moment came when he described his mother saying to him—“in a room with air in it,” as he put it—that her favorite recording artist was Salon Dijon, better known as Celine Dion.
Peretti followed by attacking the myth of the overconfident male comedian whose jokes, to him, always land. And perhaps the best one-liner of the night came toward the end of her set when she off-handedly asked, “Do you guys think it’s worse to wear a fedora or kill 15 people?”
Mirman and Gaffigan were each more than respectable, but it was the closing set by Logan that landed the night’s most consistent laughs. His material was as diverse as it was impressive: the insane questions OKCupid uses to match its users, the time he had sex with his current girlfriend in his childhood bed (which is strange, considering his parents no longer live there), and how Saratoga Springs, New York hosts the annual Take a Child Outside Week, which, if you think about it, is actually TACO Week.
When Ray and Nanjiani returned following Logan, the show was seemingly over. Buress, however, had texted the show’s producer (and Nanjiani’s wife), Emily Gordon, that he wanted to “drunk talk.” The way Buress saw it, there was a show going on, he had been drinking and he wanted to talk.
Buress, Ray and Nanjiani riffed for a few minutes about Brooklyn and how Buress is doing before getting into why he won’t let strangers sublet his apartment when he’s away because they might masturbate on his cabinets. Mirman and Peretti soon joined them onstage, and all five ended up chastising a pair of brothers who volunteered to take the apartment, as well as a verbal beating.
In an evening with so many comedians, it’s common for one or two sets to stand out as noticeably inferior. Yet this was not the case with last night’s near-two-hour Meltdown. What binds the show together is the connection between its hosts; as both good friends and skilled comedians, Ray and Nanjiani work off each other seamlessly, guiding things along with expert control while making sure to let the spotlight shine brightest on their guests.