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"You Made It Weird" Podcast with Pete Holmes
The following is the seventh entry in a series of articles covering the booming comedy podcast scene. For the purpose of explanation, a podcast is a program-driven form of digital media (audio or video) released episodically by download through web syndication.
As the presence of comedy podcasts seem to be expanding online while popularity amongst listeners grows, it’s beginning to be become more difficult for comedians to make their mark. However, stand-up comedian and writer Pete Holmes has discovered a unique way to interview his comedic friends without the overdone Q & A format. Entitled “You Made It Weird,” Pete Holmes is not afraid to turn the tables on any conversation by delving down a rabbit hole of awkwardness.
Holmes is a Los Angeles-based comedian who’s been a staple on the stand-up scene across the country, has written for network sitcoms, appeared as a talking head on VH1’s “Best Week Ever,” an occasional cartoonist for The New Yorker, and the voice behind the baby in the E-Trade commercials. He debuted the “You Made It Weird” podcast in October 2011 and in just a few months, has been growing in popularity while booking many well-known guests by engaging in interesting conversations about various subjects that probably haven’t been discussed before on other podcasts. Yet, Holmes structures each episode around three concepts: comedy, sex, and religion. While each episode is guest-centric, listeners quickly learn more about Holmes’ personal life and opinions. Growing up in a strong religious community environment, he married young at the age of 22 but was divorced by the time he was 27. His first sexual encounter (which he makes no hesitation in saying it was very brief) was after he was married. On the podcast, he’s stated on multiple occasions about his current disdain for organized religion and continues to question his faith in an frank discussion with his guests. As open as he is, he has no difficulty in delving into the sex lives and religious beliefs of his guests without being too brash or interrogative. On a few occasions, Holmes’ likened his podcast as a lighter version of “WTF” with Marc Maron (who has appeared as a guest) by dubbing his podcast “What the Heck.”
For the most part, “You Made it Weird” remains a comedy podcast so stand-ups like Paul F. Tompkins, Doug Benson, Bill Burr, and Eugene Mirman share their comedic influences, experiences starting out and their big brakes. What makes Holmes stand out as a host is his genuine nice personality and curiosity when talking with his guests. He’s not afraid to hold back laughter, no matter how loud he gets, nor is unapologetic about his own career (especially since he wrote for the critically derided NBC sitcom “Outsourced”). But what makes his rapport work with his guests is the reputation and friendships he’s built up over the years as a comedian.
Standout episodes include the Sklar Brothers, who have shared the optimistic nice-guy persona Holmes has while making it in comedy, Dave Holmes (no relation) and his ability to move past being recognized from his MTV VJ days and being openly gay in the comedy world, and T.J. Miller’s second appearance explaining an infamous night at L.A.’s Laugh Factory, whereby Miller’s performance was bumped due to an unscheduled drop in by Dane Cook and complained about it via Twitter, which became the talk of comedy blogs the following day. The first live episode of the podcast proved to be a memorable one. At the 2012 South by Southwest Comedy and Film Festival, Holmes invited good friend and fellow comedian Kumail Nanjiani, improve actor Chris Gethard, and stand-up veteran Todd Barry. Yet, Holmes’ undoubtedly most famous guest that night was director Judd Apatow, being billed despite the two having never met previously. Apatow remains game for a live taping of a podcast he’s never heard of but remains one of the best guests to appear. Being no stranger to weirdness, Holmes is up-front with Apatow about his deep admiration (yet somewhat coming off as semi-obsessive) of Apatow’s wife Leslie Mann’s work. While regular episodes often feel intimate, a live show in front of his fans (who he’s dubbed “weirdos”) just makes the show more appealing.
Holmes ends every episode by asking his guest to utter his catchphrase “keep it crispy.” While only a few have abstained, Holmes cracks up in sheer delight every time it is said because of the nonsensical and silliness behind the origin of the phrase. But the phrase remains a perfect way to top the free flowing giddiness of each episode.