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Podthoughts: You Made it Weird

Vital stats:
Format: one-on-one comedy/sex/God conversations
Episode duration: 50m-1h45m
Frequency: 3-7 per month

You’ve surely heard the name Pete Holmes resonating through the halls of alternative and/or podcast-y comedy lately. The words themselves could, by their broad pan-American nature, gain only the loosest purchase on anyone’s memory — far less than the evangelical fervor with which some speak them. Even if that piques your curiosity, casual investigation reveals only one more head in the endless perp walk of white, early-thirties, college improv-bred, sitcom-writing Los Angeles standup comics by way of New York. Yet everyone, as another noted comedy podcaster I recently interviewed put it, seems to be boarding the Pete Holmes bus.

Since this podcaster said that in response to my own salvo of Pete Holmes-related evangelization, perhaps I can offer some explanation. To truly “get” Pete Holmes, I submit that you must see Pete Holmes, like I did at a live Risk! taping. In the aftermath of his punchlines, watch the man twist his open, wholesome features — his name made flesh — into those of a lower-tier Midwestern politician on the brink of a flop sweat, the pressure from a desperate tap just inches too far down into his well of theatrical affability forcing open the stress fractures that will hasten his undoing. A subtle element of Holmes’ performance, yet a harrowing one; it would surprise me if even he fully understands how or why he pulls it off.

Then again, as his podcast You Made it Weird [RSS] [iTunes] reveals, I may vastly underestimate his capacity for (or compulsion toward) self-scrutiny. The show’s simple format drops Holmes into one-on-one conversations with friends, colleagues, and friend-colleagues, like a WTF without the confrontation. The resemblance between the two podcasts actually runs deep enough so as to get tough to explain; suffice it to say that, when Holmes brings Marc Maron on [MP3], the resulting episode could have fit just as well into one show’s feed as the other’s.

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