Before landing his critically-acclaimed comedy series Crashing, Pete Holmes was already known as a talented comedian.
But despite being a regular on the CollegeHumor entertainment website, and a familiar face on comedy specials and late-night shows, as well as host of long-running podcast You Made It Weird, Holmes had never achieved the mainstream fame enjoyed by other established comedians.
With Crashing, Holmes (who is also its creator, writer and executive producer) has finally landed a TV series that showcased his talents as a comedian and writer.
Crashing is a fictionalised account of what Holmes faced when he tried to break into the New York stand-up comedy scene.
The series revolves around Holmes’ alter-ego (also called Pete), who is a staunch Christian with aspirations to be a youth pastor before becoming a stand-up comedian.
Season three sees Pete re-entering the New York City stand-up scene after a successful college tour.
He still hangs out with fellow comic and ex-girlfriend Ali (Jamie Lee) and connects with Kat (Madeline Wise), who has a unique perspective on the comedy world.
As Pete edges closer to success, he continues to navigate his faith, dating, and the ever-changing world of stand-up comedy.
The eight-episode third season is currently airing over on HBO Asia (Astro channel 411/431).
In a tele-conference with the comedian in Los Angeles, Holmes revealed that the idea for the show stemmed from the fact that while there were shows based around stand-up comics, none of them focused on how they started out.
“I wanted to do a show about how to begin to pursue your dream,” Holmes said.
He added that comedians are not the only ones who can relate to his show, as many musicians, artists, and people in other professions can relate to his character as well.
“Because,” he explained, “the show is about trying to find your voice and make a name for yourself.”
In 2015, Holmes pitched his idea to filmmaker Judd Apatow (who is the show’s executive producer and occasional director). The two later approached HBO, and Crashing got the green light.
With Crashing into its third season, Holmes attributed the series’ success to the fact that it is “a story about someone who is trying to be a good person, someone who is trying to be a light person”.
He added: “There is so much darkness and ugliness in the world especially now. One of the things people like about the show is that my character is very hopeful, and trying to stay nice in a community that can be very depressing.”
He said people can relate to his situation, especially as they go through the world, feeling the pressure and sadness.
“I think it is nice to see a show where someone is trying to make his dreams come true, and I think that is why people are rooting for the character.”
There are many comedians featured regularly on this show. One wonders how much of the show is scripted.
“I think one of the reasons the show feels natural is that we improvise a lot. We work really hard on the script, we rewrite it several times.
“Then when we are shooting it, the first take maybe we will do it as scripted.
“Then on the second take, things will get a little looser. And then on the third take, we will totally improvise.
“I am just surprised that whatever line that people really find funny on the show, almost always is a result of being improvised.”
He said it is all about relating to the other actor and saying something funny that makes the other person laugh.
“I love improvising and I actually studied improv. There is nothing more fun than playing around, and there is nothing more fun than having to get to use that on the show.”