Photos by Glenn Garner
It’s a slightly skewed reality of Pete Holmes’ scripted HBO series that’s presented one evening at The Bell House in the trendy Brooklyn neighborhood of Gowanus. The comic and star of Crashing came out for a night of hilarious standup to celebrate the DVD release of season one. The designated seats of the venue were quickly claimed as the rest of the audience found standing space in the back and even sat on the steps up to the bar.
It’s safe to say Holmes has officially made it, whether he’d like to think so or not. I caught up with the comic backstage before the show to talk about his big break on HBO.
“I don’t get out enough to really know if what you’re saying is true,” he tells me. “I feel the love of the reviews and people on the street, and that’s wonderful. But when you think of it as a moment, like this is my break, I’m not sure I’ve had that yet. And maybe that’s good because it’s good to be hungry instead of being like, ‘We did it!'”
In Crashing, Holmes plays a version of himself at an earlier point in his life and career. About 15 years ago, he caught his then wife cheating and was forced to couch-surf among friends as he pursued a career in comedy while maintaining his Christian values. Although he’s come a long way, the show paints the struggle of a young comedian passing out flyers in the Village for a chance at performing with no pay.
Since then, he’s gone on to decent acclaim during his steady rise through the comedy ranks. In 2013, he hosted his own talkshow on TBS. After meeting Judd Apatow, his unfortunate experience with divorce as a struggling comedian began to take shape as the HBO hit it’s become.
He ultimately finds writing and acting through his past struggles to be therapeutic.
“It helps me step out of my life and look at my own life, like Pete’s struggling with relevance and his family and his divorce. But when you’re outside of it, you get that third perspective, and you don’t feel as entrenched in it.”
There’s a refreshing sense of confidence during Holmes’ set. Although he maintains his signature awkward dad-like persona, he’s not as unsure about himself as his scripted version might lead you to believe. Having been recently engaged and spiritually evolved from the committed Christian he was a decade ago, he’s come into his own as a comic.
The evening was complemented with stand-up performances from costars and friends of Holmes, Artie Lange and Dov Davidoff, as well as Crashing cowriter, Beth Stelling. As they celebrated the DVD release for season one, they also raised money for REALgirl, a nonprofit organization committed to advocating for gender equality.