“The Honeymoon Stand Up Special” feels like a throwback. Not only do Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher’s gold microphones echo a different decade when variety shows took up a bigger chunk of the TV-watching consciousness, but there’s a looseness to this new Netflix comedy collection that feels right at home on a service with few limitations.
Made up of three parts, “The Honeymoon Stand Up Special” features half-hour sets from both Leggero and Kasher, comedians married to each other. Leggero, the star and co-creator of “Another Period,” goes first (as per an opening scripted bit). Kasher, the host of the late night series “Problematic,” follows close behind, setting the stage for a third episode that sees the two performing together.
For as much as their respective sets get to the heart of what each of them do best, the real highlight of the special comes with the spontaneous conversation in that last segment. After some banter about converting to Judaism and the customs of a traditional marriage, Leggero and Kasher bring up a series of couples to talk about their own relationships in a “couples roast” format.
That this is where both of these comics really take off is not really a surprise. In addition to “Problematic,” Kasher is a veteran podcast host, most recently “Hound Tall.” Meanwhile, Leggero has long thrived on the kind of comedy that makes audiences reevaluate where certain societal lines are. This roast is as advertised, an extension of their comedy styles done with love but also with some occasional ruthlessness.
Leggero gleefully pushes these participants beyond their comfort zone and Kasher isn’t afraid to coax extra details out of people who don’t seem to realize they’re unveiling secrets to a room full of strangers. Even though there’s always a level of editing down in any live event like this, part of the fun is seeing how quick on their feet these two are. (And as a tall, lanky guy named “Steve,” I can attest that it’s refreshing to hear a different kind of “Blue’s Clues” joke for a change.)
It all makes for the kind of free-flowing, spur-of-the-moment energy that could sustain far more than just this one-off. This segment was a regular part of the tour that culminated with the filming of this special — watching “The Couples Roast,” it sure seems like the kind of ongoing series that could have a life beyond this single collection.
Even though their common question of asking each new partner’s biggest pet peeve can be a little bit reductive in certain contexts, it still gets at what makes this whole section worth watching. Any comic can try to gear their act towards a Netflix special with an hour’s worth of material. But the ones that land on something thematic or can speak really deeply into a part of the human experience is what can transcend the algorithm and make something people will go out of their way to watch. If stand up is a way to establish a therapeutic connection with a crowd, this is just using a different pathway to do the same for select members of the audience.
And if these are the handful of couples they were able to talk to in one random taping, imagine what they could do on a regular basis. Maybe part of the magic of this is that people weren’t coming specifically for that element of the show, but even by the end of this episode Leggero and Kasher were still getting spontaneous gold from people who had seen a bunch of people already go through it.
One of the great joys of something like this is to see people who stay natural and genuine get rewarded, while the people trying too hard to be funny get put in their place. Whether it’s the guy from the crowd shouting “Lube!” or a couple of the dudes getting a little too eager in describing things about their partners they don’t really care for, this whole process has a way of leveling out the sincere from those who are trying to dictate their own terms. If being open about their lives in public have made Leggero and Kasher better partners, it only seems fair to offer the same chance for some of the folks laughing along, as long as everyone’s a willing participant in good faith.
On its own, this particular chapter in “The Honeymoon Stand Up Special” helps solidify what makes this a fun experiment to begin with. The faint ways that both of their individual half-hour sets echo each other pop up again in this last segment. Watching them get a better understanding of each other through the things that they find funny in the moment, with people they’ve never met before, only makes that stronger.
Not all these jokes land (and, as you’d expect with a roast, it’s not hard to tell when some of these jabs hit a little too close to home). But that’s kind of in line with this whole enterprise. Within the context of a marriage or an incoming additional member of the family, it’s a time to talk about what constitutes good parenting, what makes us proud of our family or not, or the things we accept about each other.
Leggero and Kasher do land on something specific that people can either relate to or recognize shades of in themselves. Asking people about their first experiences together is a little goofy on its surface, but it’s all connected around the idea that we’re all looking for companionship in our own special way. Even a marriage built on some of the dovetailing ideas that each comedian talks about in their respective set is still ripe for discovery. The two joke about being relationship experts after one year and one pregnancy — Kasher’s also quick to point out that this is definitely not intended as a substitute for actual relationship counseling — but even that is a winking nod to the idea that no one really knows anything about relationships. So why not joke about how we’re all kind of learning as we go?
“The Honeymoon Stand Up Special” is now available on Netflix.