I am incredibly snobby about comedy on TV. I think that the way it is traditionally filmed and edited sucks all of the life out of a live stand-up performance and reduces it to a truly two-dimensional experience. But that's been changing lately - Ari Shaffir's This Is Not Happening, Kurt Metzger's White Precious, Comedy Underground with Dave Attell and the latest season of The Half Hour are all starting to evolve away from that. And The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail actually does a really good job of capturing the vibe of the live Meltdown Show.
First of all, it's heavy on the interactions between hosts Jonah Ray and Kumail Nanjiani. That's a key facet of the live experience. The camera shots are tight and sometimes at weird angles, which is exactly how it feels to watch this incredibly packed and popular show live. They even intersperse some backstage footage, which keeps it from feeling too sterile.
All that would be amazing... if they showed more than three minutes of any of the comedians. It would be hard to reasonably pack four comics onto a normal 23 minute stand-up showcase show where the host merely introduces the acts, but jamming them into the hostful goodness that is Jonah and Kumail seems almost ridiculous. I mean, seriously, they feel like afterthoughts.
On the plus side, it does allow them to show some of the more interesting things comedians feel comfortable trying in the back of Meltdown Comics. Neal Brennan and Moshe Kasher's appearances on the first episode are great examples of things that may not work in an 8+ minute spot. But it's now heavily banking on the audience buying into Jonah & Kumail to tune in week after week, rather than just hit the Comedy Central website for the short clip of the guest they want to see. They're engaging fellas, so it might work, but I'll be really excited when they bring these elements to something that's a more about the comedians than the show, itself.