The comedy boom of this decade has given rise to plenty of gimmicky live shows, plenty of ways performers have tried to jazz up stand-up comedy to attract audiences.

Somehow The Comedy Jam has risen above its gimmick.

Born in 2014 as a showcase of comedians rocking out with a live band in Los Angeles, the G-D Comedy Jam began hitting the road a year later, and then made the jump to Comedy Central with a one-time-only special. Only the sight of seeing comedians do stand-up about a song or a period in their lives that leads into a song, then performing that song, and even sometimes performing it alongside an actual singer or member of the rock band they’re paying tribute to — well, that’s really special.

Forgive the performers on Spike’s Celebrity Lip Sync. It’s cute and all, and they definitely get dolled up and learn some choreography. But there’s no sweet music coming out of their mouths.

Here’s a perfect example. Would you rather watch Jay Leno strut and mouth the words to “Ballroom Blitz”?

 

OR

see Sam Richardson (Detroiters, Veep) get all hot and bothered on a duet of “Ballroom Blitz” next to Tia Carrere, after he’s talked about how he felt years ago seeing her perform the song on Wayne’s World?

No contest.

I was there for the taping. That night, I also saw Awkwafina go balls out with Chester Bennington on Linkin Park’s “In the End,” Jesse Tyler Ferguson dance with a Sia dancer, Roy Wood Jr. rock out, Hasan Minhaj get his rap on, and Mary Lynn Rajskub do some classic Radiohead.

Sometimes the beauty of the show comes from the surprisingly great singing voices on some of these comedians. Sometimes it’s funny watching and hearing a comedian flail away at a song. And sometimes something magical happens — if you’ve heard Bert Kreischer tell me on my podcast or write about in his memoir, he has a connection to the band Creed. And this season, it all comes full circle.

Join host Josh Adam Meyers, the Comedy Jam Band, and more this season on The Comedy Jam, which also features backstage footage to make the series feel as much like a live concert as it does a comedy show.

March 22:
Tiffany Haddish performing “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner
Chris Hardwick and Richie Sambora performing “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi
Bobby Lee performing “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” by Rod Stewart

March 29
Jesse Tyler Ferguson performing “Chandelier” by Sia
Awkwafina and Chester Bennington performing “In the End” by Linkin Park
Sam Richardson and Tia Carrere performing “Ballroom Blitz” by Sweet

April 5
Colton Dunn performing “Sister Christian” by Night Ranger
Sarah Tiana performing “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette
Fortune Feimster and Natalie Maines performing “Goodbye Earl” by Dixie Chicks

April 12
Big Jay Oakerson and Lukas Rossi performing “Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol
Mark Duplass and Kevin Cronin performing “Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon
Jim Breuer and Rob Halford performing “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” by Judas Priest

April 19
Bert Kreischer, Scott Stapp and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal performing “Higher” by Creed
Taryn Manning and Phil Collen performing “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard
Hal Sparks and Sebastian Bach performing “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC

April 26
Malin Akerman performing “Enter Sandman” by Metallica
Matteo Lane performing “I Will Always Love You” by Dolly Parton/Whitney Houston
Jay Pharoah and DMX performing “Party Up” by DMX

May 3
Hasan Minhaj performing “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?” by Snoop Dogg
Mary Lynn Rajskub performing “Creep” by Radiohead
Roy Wood Jr. performing “Takin’ Care of Business” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive

May 10
James Davis and Montell Jordan performing “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan
Busy Philipps performing “Violet” by Hole
Jon Rudnitsky and Kenny Loggins performing “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins

The Comedy Jam premieres tonight on Comedy Central.