Before there was Chris Hardwick's Nerdist Podcast and Nerdist Podcast Network and Nerdist Theater and entire Nerdist mini–media empire, there was merely a haphazard calendar of comedy shows, art installations, panels and classes in the back of a comic book shop. The unequivocal highlight of the hodgepodge was comedian Jonah Ray's original monthly show, which in late 2010 upgraded to a consistently stellar weekly with the additions of co-host Kumail Nanjiani and co-producer Emily V. Gordon. Now a year-plus into new management, remodeling and tech upgrades, both the venue and its offerings have reached new heights, and the Meltdown's flagship status has only been elevated further. Every Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. it delivers the entire package: the coolest vibe, the most dedicated attendees and the top up-and-comers, huge names and drop-ins of any show around, all for only $8. 7522 Sunset Blvd., Hlywd. (323) 851-7223,

—Julie Seabaugh

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