As hosts of the weekly podcast You Had To Be There, Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer have an obvious rapport—one that earned them their own show on MTV, which debuts early next year. As part of the New York Comedy Festival, Glaser and Schaefer hosted Nikki & Sara & Friends at Liberty Hall—quite possibly the most awkwardly arranged venue in the city’s storied comedy history—with Gary Gulman, Pete Holmes, Dan Soder, Kyle Dunnigan and Bonnie McFarlane.
Glaser and Schaefer opened the show with a 10-minute set, the highlight of which was a discussion of Schaefer’s experience as part of a foursome. “Basically it was just me and another girl watching them have sex,” Schaefer said. Glaser segued into an anecdote about how two guys propositioned her for a threesome, which she found odd because not only were they probably gay, but “Who has a threesome on a Wednesday?”
The duo works well together: they don’t step on each other’s toes, their timing is admirable and they unquestionably elevate each other’s work. Glaser and Schaefer each performed a solo set between comedians, but it would have been nice to see them in action together more. With five comedians in tow, it’s hard to blame them for limiting their joint stage time, but considering how smoothly they work together, it would have only enhanced the show.
As reliable a comedian as any, Gulman seized the first set, starting with a fantastic bit about why Greece is in turmoil, the country having not invented anything since geometry. “Carpe diem,” Gulman admonishes. “Which is Latin, but it didn’t have to be.” He then launched into the night’s best moment, an extended bit involving an incident at Trader Joe’s in which Gulman was clearly in the wrong but persisted to extreme and uncomfortable lengths.
Holmes followed, cracking himself up almost as often as he did the audience. When comedians laugh at their own jokes, it usually degrades the quality of the performance. With Holmes, however, the opposite is true. His demeanor is so genuine and his smile so intoxicating, one can’t help but start laughing even before the punchline is delivered.
Moreover, Holmes did a set of almost entirely different material at The Meltdown two nights prior. It would have been easy to rest on his laurels and recycle the same jokes, but Holmes opted to push himself. His comedy is also getting more personal—darker, even. Compared to his 2011 album, Impregnated with Wonder, Holmes seems to be taking more risks, evolving as a both a comedian and an artist.
Soder, Dunnigan and McFarlane each turned in fine sets, but they paled in comparison to Gulman and Holmes’s. As well, Glaser’s discussion of oral sex and her suggestion that men can improve their abilities by practicing with the game Fruit Ninja was as ballsy as it was superb. And while Nikki & Sara & Friends may have focused on the Friends, the fact that the duo can leave such an impression with only 10 minutes onstage together is a testament to their skill and good indicator of their future television success.