Comedian Pete Holmes talks porn twins, bathroom sex, and his special brand of emotional catharsis.
Comedian Pete Holmes wears many hats (and a ton of sprinkles). He is probably one of the only stand-up comedians out there whose personality you could accurately describe as "sunny". You may be familiar with his work on VH1's Best Week Ever, his stand-up on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, or his Comedy Central Presents special. Or, you may recognize him as the voice of Toby from Ugly Americans, the ubiquitous and defiant E-trade baby, and his successful podcast You Made It Weird. But you definitely won't recognize his face from The New Yorker comics he pens. His second album, Nice Try, The Devil was released on May 14th.
You're wearing a beard made of rainbow sprinkles on the cover of your new album, "Nice Try, the Devil." This looks delicious. Is there any special meaning behind the picture choice? Do you love sprinkles?
The glue keeping the sprinkles on my face gave them a hallucinogenic quality, so they were even better than they look. As silly as it sounds, it was a weird way of letting people know subtly that this album is a little bit more "grown up" than Impregnated With Wonder (my first CD) but, despite maturing a bit, it's still all coming from a playful and sundae-topping-like place. Plus, it just looked funny.
Going from "Impregnated with Wonder" to "Nice Try, the Devil" the material gets a little more personal, like talking about you being single. Is anything about your life off limits material-wise?
The goal as we keep moving forward is to get to a place where I can talk about anything in my standup the way I do in the podcast. So, no. I think the next CD will continue to move in that direction, while keeping a nice amount of pure comedy playfulness to break up the soul-sharing. PIEEEEERCE!
I hear your draw cartoons for The New Yorker and they're fantastic. How do you go about bedding a New Yorker cartoonist?
How do you sleep with a NYer cartoonist? Lower your standards!!!! BOOM! They're all like 100-years-old commuters from Connecticut! Except for Zach Kanin, he's like 29 and fantastic, but I think he has a lady. But if you were trying to pick one up, just say something wry and pithy that only 3% of the country will appreciate. Then after you fornicate, say something single-panel-y. Like, "I'd prefer you smoke after sex." (Said by a woman holding her eye, as if injured).
Is coming up with new comedic material easier or more difficult when you're dealing with your own personal issues?
Pain gets in the way, but none of this is written from a actively painful place. But when you can get outside your own issues long enough to joke about them, the process and the delivery is healing and cathartic. Like yelling about how I've always secretly hated my girlfriend’s friends. That's so cleansing. But I wrote that joke two years after we broke up, after the blunt trauma had dissolved into something funnier. No one wants to hear a grown man just sincerely and punchlinelessly crying for help.
You do a very convincing impression of Heath Ledger's Joker character. Are there any impressions you do that the ladies like?
Oh, ladies LOVE my Javier Bardem. They think I'm just doing an impression of him from Vicky Cristina Barcelona, but I really AM inviting them to a sex-filled weekend in Orvieto.
And now, give some advice to our readers. "Everyone at work is always talking about trendy sex positions like "the dirty sanchez" and "the rusty trombone." Can you think of cool new names for sex positions that I can use impress my co workers with?"
First of all, no one at work is always talking about those things. Or if they are, fire that kid and let him pursue his dream of playing lacrosse professionally. I'm a fan of the Regretful Karl. That's where you write someone a sincere apology note for performing a Hot Karl on them the night before.
"I'm in a long distance relationship and my girlfriend's really uncomfortable with cyber sex but I'm really horny. Either I need her to help me out or I feel like we should break up and see other people. Should I feel guilty about wanting my sexual needs to be fulfilled?"
Long distance is the best! Don't ruin it!! You get to miss each other and run back into each other’s arms, you fool! In the meantime, just find her porn twin and save your prudish girlfriend the embarrassment. Her porn twin does things you wouldn't want to see her do, anyway.
"At what level of a relationship is it appropriate to have sex in a public bathroom?"
Where are we talking? iHop, never. Swank hotel with the bathroom attendant Vine-ing it? First date.
"I texted my guy friend (full disclosure: we dated years ago) at 1am last week because I was at a bar near his house and was going to invite him to join. He had texted me around that time the week before, but I wasn't around. In my mind, this was all totally platonic. But I woke up the next day with a weird facebook message from his girlfriend demanding to know why I was texting her boyfriend in the middle of the night. I went off on her, because I thought she was way out of line. But was she in the right?"
1am texts to ex-boyfriends could be as innocent as "I like sunshine!" but the subtext is still "Let's fuck like we used to!" Sorry. If you want a platonic guy to hang out with you in a bar, pick literally anyone else. That dude is too busy with his jealous, possessive girlfriend anyway. Probably named Trish.