by Ryan Matera
On October 21st, Gotham Comedy Club hosted An Evening with Pete Holmes and Judd Apatow. The show was hosted by Holmes and featured a ten-minute set from Rachel Feinstein (Trainwreck, Inside Amy Schumer) and twenty minutes from Holmes. Apatow then prepared for his show at Carnegie Hall with an hour long set.
For the first ten minutes of his set, Apatow read Beyonce lyrics, relating them to the gruesome details of his sexual history and leaving the audience wishing Holmes would return to the stage. Apatow had a perfectly strong set, but all the while there was a reminder of the new era of comedian’s fascination with concepts rather than material. As Holmes riffed for twenty-minutes on a taxi cab story, following every tangent and pursuing every odd laugh from crowd members, the audience was overcome with a laughter so deep it was silent, despite Holmes telling Apatow he would only go “medium.”
The crowd was hysterical, falling for every aside and ridiculous voice inflection of Holmes’ goofy yet lovable character, a character he describes by saying, “I like to think there are millions of different universes each slightly different than the last and this universe, the one we’re all in currently, is the only one where I’m not a youth pastor.”
Modern comedians such as Holmes, John Mulaney and T.J. Miller are most known for personas that beg for you to come see them in local clubs, yet don’t relate well on the small screen. The failure of such programs as the Pete Holmes show and Fox’s Mulaney are an example of quality shows which were under appreciated because viewers did not understand the persona of its show leaders. More easily digested content is that which does not require familiarity with the subject, but simply an appreciation of the content.
Apatow, whose standup is not nearly on the same level as Holmes’, is much more capable of producing comedic movies that will draw viewers of different ages and make millions of dollars – something that Holmes may not be capable of – but it is questionable whether or not he would be able to sit down and record 280 episodes of a podcast, as Holmes did with his successful program, “You Made It Weird”.
In this November we will see this separation come to a head as a pilot written and starring Pete Holmes, yet directed by Apatow, will air on HBO. Will the show reflect Apatow’s standard style of modern real-life comedies or Holmes’ silly yet familiar voice?
It is interesting how this new age of comedy is recognizably more engaging, but still remains on the fringe of popularity. The question remains whether this will ever be able to dominate the genre or if it will simmer out as the current generation gives way to younger comedians with a new style.
Ryan Matera is a Staff Writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org