This week, WSN spoke to comedian Pete Holmes about the second season of his HBO series “Crashing.” The series stars Holmes as a semi-autobiographical version of himself struggling to make a name for himself in New York City’s comedy scene — much of which is shot in close proximity to Washington Square Park.
Holmes explained that the origin story of “Crashing” begins with the cancellation of his late-night talk show, “The Pete Holmes Show.” After this, he decided to look inward to understand what made his comedy unique, which he claims comes from a “dorkier, less cool perspective.”
Holmes was raised Christian and married his wife, whom he met through his church, at age 22. However, at age 28, he discovered his wife was having an affair. The revelation led to his decision to pursue comedy full-time. He pitched his story to Judd Apatow, who agreed to take on the project as an executive producer and a director.
“[Apatow is] the only person I wanted to do it,” Holmes said, “and I’m still grateful he wanted to do it … I feel very lucky.”
Holmes remarked that though reliving moments from his past through the show have been strange — which he jokingly likened to something out of “Black Mirror” — he is excited to continue working through the development of his character into the more three-dimensional person and comedian he is today. He also said that jumping back in time has been like a vacation for him.
“I get to make a lot of mistakes. I get to not know anything about the world,” Holmes said. “In the writer’s room, we like to ask what Big Bird would do if he went to a club or some strange party, and we kind of go from there.”
“Crashing” features recurring roles and cameos from many renowned comics, such as John Mulaney, Sarah Silverman, Bill Burr and Artie Lange. Holmes expressed that he loves working with his peers because it helps bring him closer to his friends as well as deeply acquaint him with other actors. Though he believes he and Apatow write good scripts, they know that it would be foolish not to work through improvisation with the guests as well.
The show handles heavier topics with a balanced sense of levity in areas such as his divorce, struggles in stand-up and this season’s exploration and questioning of Holmes’ character’s faith. Other shows made by comedians have created this unique genre of television, but what sets “Crashing” apart is its spirituality. Though Holmes is no longer affiliated with a specific religion, he states that he approaches it “from a loving place with respect and fondness.” The journey of self-discovery Holmes’ character embarks upon is interesting because as he tries — and often fails — in stand-up, he still remains committed to his values.
He also deals with the darker side of comedy in his show. “I really like those salty-sweet things, those things that are both,” Holmes said. “The shows I find myself coming back to time and time again are the ones that are trying to show you what a scene is really like and what feelings can really be like, while also having a lot of jokes.”
“Crashing” airs on Sundays on HBO and is available on the service’s streaming platforms.
A version of this article appeared in the Feb. 26 print edition. Email Jillian Harrington at [email protected]