Sebastian Maniscalco, Jerry Seinfeld, Nate Bargatze & Jim Gaffigan.

Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Gaffigan, Sebastian Maniscalco, & Nate Bargatze Kick Off Netflix Is A Joke Festival

Photo credit: Andrew Max Levy

Jerry SeinfeldJim GaffiganSebastian Maniscalco, and Nate Bargatze. Without question, they are all worthy of their own night at the 18,000 seat Hollywood Bowl. These are guys who sell out arenas all throughout the country, after all. But playing an iconic venue like the Hollywood Bowl feels somehow all the more special. Seeing all four heavyweights on the same bill makes it even better. And 800 Pound Gorilla News was there for it, watching as they kicked off the second-annual Netflix Is A Joke Festival in Los Angeles.

This is the first time they’ve all done something like this, Seinfeld tells the crowd upfront. The four guys walked out together for a few minutes of banter, marveling at just how special the occasion was. Seinfeld was clearly the leader of the pack, and with good reason. Seinfeld is not only the most successful, but he’s also the elder statesman, having just celebrated his 70th birthday the day before.

They had trouble deciding what the lineup would be leading up to the event. After all, all four are headliners. Naturally, they decided to draw a numbered ball from a hat onstage. Sebastian got 1, Nate got 2, Jim got 3, and Jerry got 4. With the exception of Sebastian and Nate being flipped, this is precisely how we predicted the lineup would be. Each comic did 25 minutes.

Four killer arena comics crushing together opening night for Netflix Is A Joke Festival.

For his 25 minutes, Maniscalco spent a large chunk of it relating a story about taking his family to Universal Studios and being sticker shocked at what the experience would set him back. He also weighed in on what that experience as a whole must be like for most families. If you’ve ever seen him onstage, you know he’s got a tendency to utilize every inch of it. The same can be said here. He paced the stage as if he was trying to throw the spotlight operator off, though that operator rose to the occasion. Maniscalco’s set with tight, and gave audiences an idea of what they’d be in for.

Bargatze was up next. He is the newest to the world of being an arena comic of the bunch. But the last few years had given him all the training he needed for this moment. Despite being one of the hottest comics currently in the country, you get the sense that he still felt obliged to more or less introduce himself to the crowd. He did so by going back into his catalog and sharing an old joke about playing baseball. His set was pretty solid, talking about working as a water meter reader and watching a donkey jump off the high dive as a kid. We feel like Bargatze could’ve easily gotten some new fans off this set.

Next up with Gaffigan, who next to Seinfeld, has the most seniority. He was displaying somewhat of a new look, as he addressed his recent weight loss. He shut down rumors that he’s on Ozempic. Instead, he informs us it’s Mojourna. His set talked about how an appetite suppressant is a game changer, imagines how scientists feel when their medicine is misused, and getting a dog, despite his wife being allergic. Gaffigan has always been a sure bet onstage, and this set was definitely no different.

Then came Seinfeld. To him, this is “one of the greatest nights of my life.” That’s pretty high praise, considering just how much he’s done over the course of his career. But this night does represent him bringing together three of his favorite comedians working together for one big show in one iconic venue. So it makes sense that he’d feel that way. It’s also just as his film, Unfrosted, is about to hit Netflix. So he was naturally in something of a celebratory mood. 

His set opened with him talking about why he’s okay with people taking photos of him with their phone, as silly as it may be to him. He discusses liking AI, not liking family vacations but going anyway, marriage, and turning 70. He has always been known for keeping his sets as tight as possible, as he is renowned for being a stand-up perfectionist if there’s ever been one. This was no exception, and by the end, the crowd felt like they got a great show. Sure, maybe some of them would’ve wanted to see more of their favorite comic, but what they got in exchange felt like a once-in-a-lifetime moment instead. That’s a fair trade.

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