Comedy fans may recognize Pete Holmes from his boisterous laugh, his silly stand-up bits, or, as my parents refer to it “that funny pose he has on stage.”
One universal trait is known by all of Holmes’s fans — his sheer joy while performing. Whether listening to Holmes in his two Earwolf appearances (he has a third in the can), on his album Impregnated with Wonder, or his own Nerdist podcast You Made it Weird, it’s as though you can hear his smile coming through your headphones.
Yet that doesn’t stop him from asking big questions about love and mortality on his podcast.
I recently spoke with Holmes about his quest to emulate Ryan Gosling and bare his soul for his listeners. And even though I disagree with his choice for who’s the best Batman (It’s Michael Keaton, of course! Well, after Pete Holmes), he has some great projects coming up that his fans are certain to enjoy.
Your admiration, or shall I say “man crush,” for Ryan Gosling came up during
your recent appearance on Totally Laime. Are there any Gosling-esque practices that you’re trying to introduce into your routine to play it cool?
Oh man, fantastic question. I left Drive like, “God, I have to talk less.” And I sincerely have tried that. I’ve been out with a girl and she starts losing her mind talking about something I don’t understand and I feel awkward and don’t know what to do, I thought, “what would Ryan do?”, smiled a half-smile, kept my mouth shut and it totally worked, 100 percent. And by worked I mean we’re now in a non-sexual but deeply loving relationship where I take care of her son and help her husband rob pawn shops to get out of debt.
As a guest on Sklarbro Country, you discussed the idea of being a part of a community by tweeting an event with others or sharing other online experiences. Do you feel like your relationship with your fanbase has grown since beginning your own podcast, You Made it Weird, or are you still finding that regular audience of “Weirdos?”
Absolutely! The podcast is like a beacon for me to find likeminded people. Getting followers because you tweeted a good joke is one thing, getting followers who know you and know a lot about you because of your oversharing soul-baring podcast, that’s a group you can live-tweet an awkward lunch with.
For those unfamiliar with your podcast can you explain what “making it weird” means? Is it a certain line of questioning, interview approach, or just the direction that the episodes seem to take?
It’s the questions, I like to ask the guest about what I think is weird about them, and sex and religion come up every episode, those are weird topics, but it’s kind of the goal of each episode, to have some sort of awkward moment that should be edited out, but isn’t. That’s the best stuff. When my face goes flush, I immediately regret saying something, or the guest gets uncomfortable, whatever, that’s the sweet spot I’d like the show to dip into a couple times an episode, ideally.
Sex and religion are generally taboo topics, yet they were addressed on your Totally Laime appearance and are recurring themes on You Made it Weird. Why is that a common thread you include on the show?
You can tell when someone is genuinely interested in something, I think, and I am genuinely interested in comedy, sex and God. So I try to steer things there so I don’t have to fake an interest in their homemade soaps. Although that sounds pretty interesting, I should pick a better fake example. And as a bonus it’s an easy way to make things weird on the show. I’m both interested and looking for help. Really. I need help thinking about sex and relationships, I need help wrapping my brain around God, or no-God, or maybe-God, and the guests and their responses to those topics have been unbelievably helpful and insightful for both me and the weirdos listening (I can’t speak for all of them, but some tell me so). It’s a funny show, I think, but also very therapeutic for me (and the guests, usually!)
Your frankness regarding your religious past and relationships, combined with your guest discussions, makes it seem like you’re striving for personal growth on your show. For example, when speaking with Sarah Silverman, you both tried to figure out who makes an ideal mate for a comic. Has You Made it Weird been a cathartic experience so far? Do you expect to “find answers,” or have you discovered anything about yourself while recording the podcast?
I have gotten so much out of it it’s absurd. It’s cathartic, it’s informative, it’s life changing stuff for me. New thoughts, new philosophies, it’s been incredible. The show forces me to look hard at the honest truth about myself and others, it’s helped me see some of my blind spots, to see how much I contradict myself, what areas I just don’t know anything about, how I can be smart in some areas and just full of baloney in so many others.
Any teasers as to what guests your fans should expect to hear on upcoming episodes of You Made it Weird?
Let’s just say it rhymes with “Bo Burnham.” Like, perfectly. Kyle Kinane is coming out soon, Nikki Glaser and I just recorded one that blew me away. Greg Fitzsimmons should be out by the time this is printed, and that one was incredible.
Perhaps two of my favorite tracks on your album may be the two silliest, Pieeeeeeeerce! and I Need A Lawyer!!!!! Do you have a bit from your act that is the most fun for you to perform or to have fans engage in?
Haaa, people love the silly ones, and I do too. It’s funny to me how you can work on some well-written, deep, “brilliant” bit for years and the real take-away from a show is yelling words that rhyme. I love that that’s how comedy keeps us honest, like “Hey! Sometimes you should just be silly you dummy!” And I love playing in that silly space. When people tweet a new “Pierce” joke at me or yell it at me randomly, it always makes me happy. How can it not? PIIIIIERCE!! I’m laughing right now.
My favorite FrontPage Films sketch is Accigone, where you play Arnold Schwarzenegger attempting to mask his accent, though I also love the other series like Kid Farm and Hotel. What videos can fans expect to see coming up? Any chance you’ll be doing more Batman sketches in time for The Dark Knight Rises?
We are about to start shooting on new Batmans, some for before and some for after Rises. I’m super excited for that! Since I’ve moved to LA it’s been harder to make new FrontPage stuff, but the Batmans are worth the flight out for everyone to do. I love making those.
In your Batman sketches, your rendition of the Dark Knight seemed based on Christian Bale, yet you’ve been known to joke about Val Kilmer in your stand-up. I’m about to make it weird by asking you one of the most important questions a person can be asked – who is your favorite Batman?
Haaaa, it would’ve been such a better fit if Val Kilmer was the current Batman! But he was actually my least favorite. I’m a big Bale-head so I have to say Christian Bale, but my second would definitely be Adam West. BAT-DANCE!