Crashing Episode 12Crashing Episode 12

Pete Holmes Breaks Down His Character’s Growing Pains in Season 2

By Allie Waxman


From quiet church mouse to raucous party animal, Season 2 shows Pete testing limits, defining himself and refining his comedy. Post-divorce Pete begins a renaissance of sorts, dabbling in (almost) casual sex, drugs and alcohol, but also questioning his values, strengthening friendships and ultimately, becoming a better comedian. Here’s what Crashing creator and star, Pete Holmes, has to say about some of his character’s stumbles and triumphs throughout the season.

Episode 1: “The Atheist”
Atheists Are Comforting

"In Pete's conversation with Penn Jillette, it was my intent to show that something happens when someone starts to [lose the] fear of hell and punishment. I dabbled in atheism in reality."

"It really was like a thought experiment. It feels good when someone can say, 'You're probably okay. I don't think you're going to burn forever in eternal torment.' That alleviates a lot of guilt from your thoughts. That's what Penn does for Pete. He says very beautifully, eloquently and compassionately, 'Just be kind, you're probably fine.'"

Episode 2: “Pete and Leif”
When You Can't Let Go, Life Will Make You

"Sometimes you're not ready to take your ring off, but the world will — in our case — literally blow it up. I did wear my wedding ring for a month after my wife left me. I had been married for six years, just like Pete's character on the show; it felt gauche or crude to be a man without a wedding ring."

"It's exciting to show a male character that is hyper-sensitive and doing things that some people would consider feminine."

Episode 3: “Bill Burr”
Terrible Thoughts Are Normal...

"Everybody has terrible thoughts. Pete thinks he's bad or wrong for thinking, 'I don't know why, but I hate the back of this guy's head.' But you know what, even nuns sometimes pour their milk in their coffee and think something terrible."

"Pete sees an honest person in Bill, who is trying to get Pete to come out of his shell and be honest with what he's thinking. Pete thinks the world is going to respond the way that the God he was raised with would respond, which was with punishment and wrath. Bill is saying, 'Nobody's going to punish you.'"

...So Is Some Ugliness

“We’re seeing a little bit of the ugliness and the competition associated with being a standup. Pete is trying so hard to be what he thinks he’s supposed to be, but he’s bubbling with jealousy that Porter, who is the worst or the greenest of all the comedians, gets this big break."

"Pete seems nice the whole time, but really there’s a subconscious urge to sabotage him. He thinks Porter’s not ready and he wants the standup gods to intervene. I’m happy to say I can’t think of real life examples of me pushing someone in front of a bus. ”

Comics Are Products of Their Environments

“The alt scene was one of the first places in New York I really killed and connected. The younger audience meant that people knew my references. The alt scene is full of comedy fans; there’s no food service, they’re seated and listening. They’ve heard the albums, they know what’s hack or innovative and they’re very, very polite."

"Suddenly, I was doing the same material that I was doing in the clubs and it was working. Comedians really are products of their environment. You need to pick the right cities, spots and friends because if you don’t, you’ll end up becoming a comedian you never intended to be.”

Stick Together Through Ups and Downs

“When Judd and I started to think what would be a great Artie story, we were like, ‘Well, what’s it really like?’ It’s not, ‘Oh, Artie loses his car keys.’ Pete on the show, and in real life, cares and wants to be there for his friend. How difficult is that?"

"There’s something meta going on in doing it. A lot of therapy is trying to step outside of your life situation and look at it as if it is a character in the show. Doing a show that is so brazenly about, ‘Artie, I don’t want you to die,’ ‘Artie, I want you to be well,’ feels like therapy, and he’s told me the same.”

There’s Nothing Wrong With Being Good at Warm-up

“Pete’s good at warm-up. And it’s not to say you can’t be a brilliant comedian who does warm-up, of course you can. But there is a certain broadness that is associated with being a great warm-up. I don’t want to overgeneralize, but NACA tends to favor high-energy guys that do a lot of act-outs and pump the room with positivity."

"If you go to NACA and are that way, you might not be a respected comedian, but you could be a very successful college comedian. You’re catering to your audience. How much are you going to give the people what they want? That’s what Pete does.”

Roasting Is Better With Friends

“I really loved being roasted, but I’m actually downplaying that because we want my character to be more uncomfortable. He takes it personally. It’s better if it’s someone I love [roasting me]. I don’t want just ‘some guy’ coming up to me and saying something mean (although I’d like to think I could get over that too).

But there’s something tribal and special about [roasting]. There’s this extreme catharsis in saying everything you’ve ever thought about somebody — as mean and pointed as you can — without consequence. Don’t take anything so seriously. It really feels beautiful.”