“When my wife left me…”
This is how I know the interview is good. I’m inside the worst moment of your life. I’m seeing the layers underneath success. Which Pete Holmes has a lot of.
He stars in the HBO show, “Crashing” and in “The Pete Holmes Show.” He hosts the podcast, “You Made it Weird.” And now he’s got a book, “Comedy Sex God.”
I’m always scared before an interview.
Because what if I don’t do this interview justice? What if I forget everything?
I’m a fan. I watch a lot of Pete’s Youtube clips. I could forget. I could freeze.
But when I’m inside the most intimate layers of his life, I know.
“When my wife left me…” he said, “I realized comedy is noble. People are hurting. And comedy is a good thing to do when you’re hurting and need a laugh.”
Pete wants his comedy to heal you. And your pain. So he talks about his penis.
“It’s a new bit,” he said. “It’s about how… um… I’m straight, but that doesn’t mean I think men are gross. Or specifically, that d***s are gross.”
“Ok, so you start with a funny premise.”
I was taking notes.
“Yeah, I think so, too,” he said.
Then he stops a minute later. “Ehh, you caught me being proud of myself.”
This is the “God” part of Pete’s book. He made the title three different fonts. Because it’s three different topics.
“Otherwise, it sounds like you’re calling me a comedy sex god,” he said.
And that’s not the point.
“A lot of the book is about your inner reality.”
I was actually surprised by the amount of philosophy Pete writes and talks about. He quoted Carl Jung in the podcast.
He said, “You were born. And you were just awareness. This happened. And then people told you who you were. People told you ‘You’re a girl.’ People told you, ‘You’re American.’ People told you, ‘You like the Red Sox.’ You inherited all of this identity. None of that is inherently you. It’s what Carl Jung calls, ‘the false self.’”
I wanted to know what made Pete think about this.
It goes back to the beginning of his career.
“I was just starting out,” he said. And he was trying to get a manager. But he kept getting rejected.
“I had a meeting with Rick Dorfman, who was John Mullaney’s manager at the time. He did not sign me. But he did something really gracious. And I’ve thanked Rick many times. Because a lot of people won’t sign you. But he told me why he wasn’t signing me.”
He said, “I just don’t know what you care about. What makes you angry? What makes you scared?”
Pete took this moment and wrote it into the show “Crashing.” The character in the show says,
- “Who are you?”
- “Why are you?”
- “Why now?”
These are the questions we have to ask anytime we feel stuck. Or trapped. And hopeful about a new future.
Pete still answers these questions. Before writing new material. And before going on stage.
“Think about an audience. Think about the individuals, the heartbreaks, some of them are being cheated on, some of them just got sober, some of them they just lost a parent.”
He told me his intention.
“I know this sounds a little bit Tony Robbins, but for me, when I do stand-up, my intention is…”
He started getting nervous.
“I’m a little embarrassed to say this,” he said.
We had a small audience in the studio.
“I want people to feel less alone.”
Because I wrote “Choose Yourself” with a why behind it. I wanted people to walk out of the cage. And in some way, that’s what Pete is doing with comedy.
He’s saying you don’t have to be stuck.
Not physically. Not emotionally. Not spiritually.
“Something happens when you’re in pain. You realize that you have an opportunity to really rearrange the molecular structure of a lot of people in a positive way,” he said. “I know I’m being a little bit high-hoped about stand-up, but… “
“No, it’s good.” I wanted him to keep going.
I didn’t want him to cut his “why” in half.
He continued. And said, “Comedy can alchemize pain into pleasure. And I’m getting emotional, but that’s f*cking beautiful.”
I want you to hear the rest of Pete’s new bit.
This clip is 2 minutes.
It’s not G-rated. Or safe for work.
So get your headphones. And hopefully, you feel what Pete wants you to feel throughout this interview…
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