Live Show Report: the Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail

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The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail is a live stand-up show at Meltdown Comics in Hollywood, Wednesdays at 8:30pm. I got a chance to see it last week, and it was hilarious. There’s another show tonight, featuring one of my all time favorites, Maria Bamford – along with Ian Karmel, Phoebe Robinson, Drennon Davis and Karen Kilgariff, Patrick Susmilch, and Byron Bowers.

You can’t get more relevant to my interests than a live comedy show in the back of a comic shop. The Nerdist’s nerdmelt theater is hosts tons of shows; the calendar had something going on every day of the week.  The Meltdown has a pretty standard showcase format: it starts with Jonah Ray and and Kumail Nanjiani telling a few stories and chatting with the audience, then they introduce a series of great comedians. The group I saw included some new faces and some people every comedy nerd would recognize. The crowd was young, nerdy, and pretty amazingly gender balanced.

If you can get to LA on a weeknight, this is a phenomenal comedy value. The live show has been around for several years, last summer it made the jump to TV and had a short run on Comedy Central. A second TV season taped earlier this spring, so if you can’t make it to Meltdown you can at least experience it vicariously via basic cable.

I stumbled on the show by accident, after a twist of fate landed me in Hollywood with nothing to do. I realized that Meltdown Comics was nearby and it was new comic day, so I decided to check it out. If you’re planning a similar pilgrimage, be aware that parking in the immediate vicinity of Meltdown is strange: metered parking on the street in front of the store opens up at around seven or eight, and there are moderately confusing signs explaining when and where you can park. Note that meters in this area take only quarters and dollar coins and max out at four hours, so plan accordingly. I arrived a little before seven, so I ended up finding a metered space a few blocks west. I walked in at 7pm and bought a ticket for $8. Your ticket takes the form of a handstamp, with different handstamps determining different seating groups. You also get a discount on comics in the shop, and buying something gets you first shot at seating.

Tickets are sometimes available online, but those sell out fast and there are always at least a few tickets available at the door. Some shows don’t have presale tickets, so check the website and plan ahead. If you’re planning your evening around the show, remember that tickets go on sale at around 7pm – arrive early to ensure you won’t be disappointed.

I bought a few issues of Squirrel Girl and waited for the show to begin. People start vaguely lining up at 7:30, though I’m not entirely sure how the line interfaces with the handstamp groups. I sat down with the rest of the priority seating crowd and waited for the show to start. The theater is fairly small and intimate, and it has a great sound system. I ended up sitting little too close to one of the speakers, and strategic seat selection or earplugs might be a good choice for anyone with sensitive hearing.

When the show started, and the first thing I noticed was that Kumail Nanjiani is startlingly handsome in real life. I just wanted to say that, in case he has a google alert set up for his name. I’ve been to a lot of comedy shows, and I’ve never been lost in a comedian’s eyes while they described the last time they shit their pants. Jonah and Kumail’s opening bit was horrible stories of bathroom misfortunes, and the audience interaction segment for this show was mostly eliciting weird and hilarious stories of pants-shitting from people in the first few rows. A surprising number of ladies were willing to chime in, which made me strangely proud for my gender.

I had done zero research before heading to the show, so all the performers were a surprise to me. Andy Peters opened the show with some great bits about cars and dog ownership. Then Garfunkle and Oats arrived, much to my delight, and played two new songs which were hilarious and hit a little too close to home. Andy Erikson was next, with some oddball nerd girl humor. In the most memorable and adorable moment of the night, she proposed to her boyfriend at the end of her set (don’t worry, it wasn’t an ambush proposal… apparently they were already sort of engaged, but there hadn’t been an official proposal so she decided to surprise him… with comedy!) After that we had Ian Sane doing some slightly off-putting character work, lampooning hippie philosophers and truth tellers. The show wrapped up with two impressive performances by comedians with equally impressive beads: Randy Liedtke and Dan St. Germain.  Both had me laughing hilariously, and I was glad to hear that Randy has a comedy central half hour scheduled for next season, and Dan had one last season. The show was thoroughly entertaining, and gave me a great list of new comedians to follow.

So that’s the kind of thing you have to look forward to at The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail. Writing this up makes me tempted to drive into town for another show tonight. If you get a chance, I strongly recommend checking it out.

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