We’re far from in the red when it comes to comedy couples these days. Say we’re attending comedy prom. You’ve got King Peele and Queen Peretti up on stage waving and stuff, you’ve got Kumail and Emily slow dancing in the middle, Mr. Offerman and Mrs. Mullally chaperoning, and then outside under the bleachers you have Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher, the mean kids flicking cigarettes at you as you pass by because dances are bullshit.
I mean this in the best possible way. The enfant terrible dynamic between the two of them is the star of The Honeymoon Stand Up Special, a collection of half-hours now available on Netflix, and is the element that holds the series tightly together when other elements falter.
The main event is the collection’s third part, a series of improvised roasts/therapy sessions with various couples in the audience. Though it’s essentially a crowd work exercise, both Leggero and Kasher thrive on each other’s rhythms and clearly delight both in putting these poor people in the hot seat (their patients include a woman who admits to not feeling any emotion) and in giving them a thrill. This framing device plays to the couple’s strengths: a podcaster’s ability to draw a guest in and a roaster’s proclivity towards knocking them down as specifically as possible. Also, I don’t know, call me old fashioned, but there’s something beautiful in the real look of love Kasher gives a newly-Jewish Leggero when she refers to the Holocaust as a “membership dropoff.” These two are just in awe of each other’s abilities.
If the preceding half-hours don’t quite stack up to the third, it’s pretty immediately justified by how quickly everything moves. Nothing that doesn’t land in either of their specials outstays its welcome, and both Kasher and Leggero stick the landing individually (Leggero with a horrifying poll of who in the audience has witnessed a man masturbating in public, and Kasher with tales of his trip to a fertility clinic that only supplied gay porn—which he ends up using because “you gotta trust the chef”). Both loosely revolve around their individual experiences with their marriage, pregnancy, etc., but, perhaps to the credit of the third segment, each special feels like half of a whole.
Unfortunately, while the editing in both specials keeps things moving along at a nice clip, the sometimes choppy direction causes the audience’s laughter to lurch and swell inorganically, which doesn’t do any favors to the performers (specifically Leggero’s already punchy, mercenary style). Still, you’re getting something different here, between performers whose every interaction is inherently meaningful, and it shows.
Graham Techler is a New York-based writer and comedian. You’d be doing him a real solid by following him on Twitter @grahamtechler or on Instagram @obvious_new_yorker. A real solid.