Jonah Ray, left, and Kumail Nanjiani created “The Meltdown” from their comedy routine. (Jesse Grant)


Comedy Central’s “The Meltdown With Jonah and Kumail” isn’t just a TV show. It’s a backstage pass to one of Los Angeles’ most popular comedy shows. Jonah Ray and Kumail Nanjiani (“Silicon Valley”) created “The Meltdown” (12:30 a.m. Wednesdays) by doing just what they’ve been doing each week for four years: hosting a loose, experimental stand-up showcase in the back of a comic book shop.

For the most part, TV’s “Meltdown” is a shortened version of the live show: Ray and Nanjiani tell jokes and talk to the audience, followed by short stand-up sets.

What makes the TV show different is that cameras follow the action backstage as the comics hang out, talk shop and plan their sets.

In the premiere, Moshe Kasher does a bit where a plant in the audience heckles him into miming like a clown. It’s a bizarre piece of performance art, but, in the context of “The Meltdown,” it works. When he’s done, a camera follows Kasher off-stage, where he’s greeted by the show’s producer, Nanjiani’s wife Emily Gordon. 

“That was everything I hoped it would be and more,” Gordon says. 

She might as well have been talking about the show itself. 

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