The second season of stand-up showcase, The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail, premieres late-night Tuesday on Comedy Central after @midnight.
If you’re lucky in Los Angeles this week, you’ll see co-host Jonah Ray spinning a custom-made sign on the sidewalks.
“I was thinking of wearing short-shorts, tank tops and a headband,” Ray told The Comic’s Comic.
Emily V. Gordon, the show’s producer, immediately approved the idea.
“Clothes are very important and they make the man,” deadpanned Ray. Gordon added: “And a lack of clothes also is sometimes important.”
I had to ask Ray what he’d be wearing, seeing as wardrobe plays an important role in the subplot of the first two episodes – the second-season premiere (“The One with the Replacement Hosts”) features Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer wearing the clothes straight off Ray’s and Kumail Nanjiani’s backs, fronts and legs to impersonate them for a segment. The second episode (“The One with The Jacket”) features many jokes at the expense of Nanjiani’s jacket. Other comedians performing in the first two weeks of The Meltdown include Andy Daly, Cameron Esposito, Hampton Yount, Sean Patton, Matt Braunger, Claudia O’Doherty, and Adam Pally and Gil Ozeri.
How did last year’s first season influence this year’s sophomore showcases?
“I feel like the first season we didn’t really know what this was going to be. We over-planned a bunch of stuff,” Gordon said. “This time, we hoped we had enough stuff, and then in the editing room, we found we had more than enough!”
She added: “Jonah and Kumail realized they could be silly onstage…they could figure it out, and we’d find it. We trusted ourselves more.”
“Even the comics we had on, everybody learned from the first season,” Ray said. “Bits from backstage that we ended up using…Kurt Braunohler, he looked at sets from the first season and timed it so he’d know where the (commercial) break would be. Everyone was a lot smarter about how they’d be that night.”
With so much going on offstage, did the three of you ever try to fight for an hour instead of a half-hour with Comedy Central?
“They don’t really do hourlong stand-up shows these days,” Gordon said. “We’ve jokingly asked for it many times, but I don’t think it’s a thing that happens.”
Ray likes that it’s a quick half-hour. “You always want to leave them wanting more, with attention-spans as they are. That’s the best compliment you can get. ‘We want more! We want more!’ Maybe if you keep liking it, then they’ll give us an hour.”
“It’s always better to leave them wanting more,” Gordon said.
Was that also your philosophy for using Steven Brody Stevens at the end of multiple episodes?
“He did audience warm-up for us season two, so he was around a lot. And he’s so much fun, so we couldn’t keep him off,” Gordon said.
Who’s most surprisingly adept at both the backstage and onstage elements of the show?
“Everybody’s pretty good at it,” Gordon said. “Some performers before their sets want to focus. Brett Gelman came and was ready to hang out the whole night. John Mulaney came and was ready to hang out the whole night. Cameron Esposito said I’m going to get weird with this backstage and then do my set, and then come back and get weird again. And that’s why we booked them. We booked comedians that we were friends with who would be interesting backstage.”
On the other hand, she said some comedians aren’t quite as secure or happy about having cameras filming them all the time offstage.
Ray said one comedian seems always camera-ready: “Of course, Pete Holmes is always going to be the answer for that. He always kills. He’s always on all the time. He’s perfect for the show. He loves being silly so he’s just going to do that backstage.”
Stay tuned later this season for “an episode that has one of our favorite through lines,” Ray said. “There’s an episode we have with John Mulaney and Brett Gelman. Me and Kumail end up riffing in the beginning of the show. It delves into really disgusting…”
“Sex stuff!” Gordon said.
Ray: “Like how many sex terms can you come up with?” They start comparing sex terms to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles villains. “We don’t normally get this dirty, but we had such a fun time with it. We get offstage, and Mulaney goes, ‘Did you notice there’s a 12-year-old girl sitting in the second row?”
Gordon: “Just a fresh-faced beauty in the second row!”
Ray: “But then after that, realizing we had to bring up Brett Gelman doing his Gelmania stuff. It was just so disturbing, and that’s actually what the girl says. ‘What do you think about this, Lucy?’ ‘It’s disturbing!’”
Happy ending, though. No, not that kind!
“Her parents were lovely,” Gordon said. “And they ended up staying for the second show taping, so we can’t be all bad!”
Here are 20 more minutes with Jonah and Kumail and Emily talking amongst themselves about this season, their wardrobe choices and more:
Preview Fred Armisen showing off his accuracy with accents:
John Mulaney on HBO’s “The Jinx” miniseries:
And Hannibal Buress on proper etiquette today:
The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail debuts its second season Tuesday night after @midnight on Comedy Central.