Netflix Takes Comedy Live With Tom Brady Roast and Katt Williams Special

For the live events, Netflix picked stars with current buzz. Along with the Mulaney variety show, Katt Williams followed up his viral “Club Shay Shay” interview with a new hour, “Woke Foke,” on Saturday, and Kevin Hart, whom Williams singled out in his interview for criticism, tried to bring back the dormant genre of celebrity roast on Sunday with “The Greatest Roast of All Time,” starring Tom Brady, widely considered the GOAT of quarterbacks. (After livestreaming, the shows can be watched on Netflix, sometimes in edited form.)

As the last half-century of “Saturday Night Live” has proved, there is an undeniable excitement to live comedy, an irreplaceable energy that can create a sense of event. But there are significant dangers, not the least of which is that you can’t cut the boring or unfunny parts. Netflix built its comedy empire on elevating the standup special as an art form to rival film or TV. Highlighting live comedy represents a commercial move for Netflix, spotlighting events that promise unpredictability more than refinement, mess instead of polish.

You saw both sides over the weekend.

In a revealing new interview for “My Next Guest With David Letterman,” released last week, Mulaney said that his favorite project ever was “The Sack Lunch Bunch,” a variety show for kids. His love for the form is evident on this new show, an even more anything-goes production that feels a little bit like a rollicking cable-access show from the 1980s, but with famous people.

“We’re only doing six episodes, so the show will never hit its groove,” Mulaney said early in the premiere.

This isn’t just setting expectations. It’s part of the charm. The start of every talk or variety show has problems, but it also tends to be when the most interesting and experimental work happens. And while Mulaney organized the first episode around coyotes, the show does not stick closely to a theme, and its structure here was very loose.

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