Film critic Dominic Corry celebrates, clarifies and justifies his love for all things movie.

The real-life drama hiding behind Hollywood's newest television comedy, Crashing

Crashing is loosely based on Pete Holmes' own life.
Crashing is loosely based on Pete Holmes' own life.

Every comedian hoping to make it big in TV or movies no doubt fantasises about being anointed by comedy god Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, Girls, Trainwreck).

The prolific writer/producer/director helped break many of today's biggest comedy stars, such as Amy Schumer, Seth Rogan and Jonah Hill, to name just a few.

Famously a huge fan of stand-up comedy, a topic he previously explored in the 2009 Adam Sandler hit Funny People, Apatow's latest endeavour is Crashing, a television show created by stand-up comic Pete Holmes, who stars as an ever-so-slightly fictionalised version of himself.

"Pete sent me all these links to different sketches he had done and I just sat in my office and thought 'These are amazing, Pete is hilarious'," Apatow tells TimeOut during a sitdown with the pair in Los Angeles.

"And it opens me up to thinking, 'What's he thinking about? What does he want to do?'. Some people have a plan and you can't work with them because it's in motion and other people have just no clue."

"That was me," adds Holmes.

Pete Holmes and Lauren Lapkus star in Crashing.
Pete Holmes and Lauren Lapkus star in Crashing.

Although not exactly a superstar, Holmes had a perfectly respectable career going before getting the nod from Apatow, he hosted his own late-night talk show that lasted just under two years.

"Pete's talk show was cancelled and he clearly was weak and vulnerable," says Apatow. "And I thought, 'He's so talented. I can tell he's ready to do the thing he's going to do. He's matured, it's gonna happen now. But if he doesn't have a great idea, then I'm gonna blow his ass off."

Luckily for Holmes, that wasn't the case.

"Pete had a great idea for what he wanted to do then he wrote it," continues Apatow. "He has a vision and unique point of view. It's more that I'm avoiding things I've seen before. I like people that are thinking differently and thinking deeply."

The ''Pete Holmes'' we meet in Crashing is still learning the stand-up comedy ropes, enduring the indignity of poorly attended open-mic nights and hawking for customers on street corners. He's also pretty much homeless, since he and his wife (played by Lauren Lapkus) split up in the first episode.

So he ends up ... crashing ... on the couches of more famous comedians who take pity on him, such as Sarah Silverman, TJ Miller and Artie Lange, all of whom play themselves. It's a development taken from Holmes' own experiences.

"In real life I did get divorced," says Holmes. "And it was Nick Kroll and John Mulaney and TJ Miller, these are all the people who took me in and helped me find places and helped me find work so I could eat. So it's an exaggeration of something that really happened."

Apatow and Holmes are both conscious of the fact there are more shows than ever focused on stand-up comedians playing themselves. Holmes stresses that the main point of difference here is the on-screen Pete has a long way to go before experiencing any kind of real success as a stand-up.

"We both love Seinfeld and Louie," says Holmes. "We also got really excited at the idea of a show that shows those first 10 years, because stand-ups really do struggle for about a decade then something happens and they're called overnight successes. Even though they were just grinding it out for 10 years.

"I thought that was a really funny opportunity to show all the kind of things that people have to do to sustain their dream."

Pete Holmes is the latest breakout comedy star to earn Judd Apatow's attention.
Pete Holmes is the latest breakout comedy star to earn Judd Apatow's attention.

As someone unafraid to take the current American president to task on social media, Apatow concedes it's a tough time for comedy.

"It's hard to be super funny about it because we all feel like we might die. It really is that simple. What happens with North Korea gets nuts? Donald Trump can't resist lashing out at Meryl Streep. He's not even strong enough to go, 'I look like a leader by not responding'. There will soon be real situations where he needs to be more moderate and thoughtful and quiet and that's not something you can joke about.

"That's where I think a lot of our concern comes from - he doesn't laugh. If you look at all his interviews his whole career, he's not a laugher. And laughing is giving. Laughing is showing you're connected. Laughing is showing you're listening and you're understanding. So someone who really doesn't laugh, doesn't enjoy that interaction, is deeply troubling to me."

LOWDOWN:
Who: Comedian Pete Holmes
What: Crashing
When: Premieres tonight, 9pm
Where: Soho

- NZ Herald

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