‘Crashing’ Comedy Tour promotes new HBO show
STORY BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
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Three of the stars involved with the forthcoming HBO comedy series “Crashing” are on a collision course for Philly Feb. 10.
The live Crashing Comedy Tour event will feature a rare stand-up performance by Judd Apatow (HBO’s “Girls” and movies including “Bridesmaids,” “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up” and “This is 40”); Howard Stern radio show alumnus Artie Lange; and Pete Holmes — the subject of stand-up specials on Comedy Central and HBO, host of a short-lived talk show on TBS, the voice of the baby in the E-Trade TV commercials, and the guy responsible for skewering Christian Bale’s characterization of Batman in the online College Humor skit series “Badman.”
“It’s a great introduction to Judd. He started (doing stand-up) when he did TV writing,” Holmes said in a phone interview, adding that Apatow recently revisited his stand-up roots on “The Tonight Show.”
“Crashing,” which premieres on HBO at 10:30 p.m. Feb. 19, is Holmes’ brainchild. “It’s the mythological retelling of what it feels like to start out in stand-up comedy, and to go through a divorce,” he said. The title is a reference to sleeping on friends’ couches while struggling to make it in the comedy scene.
In the spirit of the series — which evokes empathy for rookies in the savagely dog-eat-dog world of comedy — The “Crashing” Comedy Tour will include other still-to-be-announced, special guest comics taking the stage at the Trocadero Theatre. The tour is only appearing in Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
In the TV show Holmes plays Pete, a sheltered suburbanite who married his childhood sweetheart and dreams of making it as a comedian, but is hopelessly mired in the open mic. circuit. When he finds out his wife has cheated on him, Pete’s world spectacularly unravels. “A lot of it — the vibe and the feel — is very honest,” Holmes said. “In real life, my wife did divorce me. What really happened wasn’t nearly as entertaining (as what happens in the show).”
Lange, who appears in three episodes (and frankly addresses his battles with substance abuse), and comedians T.J. Miller and Sarah Silverman, are charming fictionalized versions of themselves in “Crashing.” Holmes described his character as a version of himself circa 2007-2008, but with an amplified naïveté and sweetness.
A cameo by Rachael Ray in the sixth episode leads to a turning point for Pete.
Holmes, who also hosts a Nerdist podcast called “You Made It Weird” and draws cartoons for “The New Yorker,” said he pitched “Crashing” to Apatow while he was directing the Amy Schumer/Bill Hader film “Trainwreck.” According to Holmes, the moment that ultimately convinced Apatow to say yes came after a night out at a club, during which Schumer cajoled Apatow into going on stage. Holmes and Apatow are “Crashing”’s executive producers.
When asked what makes Apatow’s writing style distinctly his own, Holmes said: “He can make you care, and also laugh at a perfect joke. That’s an instinct I’ve been trying to hone.”