When movies and TV portray the struggles of stand-up comics, there’s often a moment of victory, that moment where our hero tells the perfect joke, performs just the right set, and you can see their future laid out before them. They’ve made it. Well, we’re nearly two seasons into Crashing, and Pete still hasn’t had his moment. Whenever he seems on the cusp of success, either the world or his own bumbling snatches the dream away. It may make for occasionally awkward viewing, but it certainly feels truer.
Loosely based on the life and career experiences of comedian Pete Holmes, Crashing has taken the “comedian makes a show about themselves” formula and turned it on its head for HBO. We had a chance to sit down at SCAD aTVfest with Holmes, comedians and co-stars Jamie Lee and Jermaine Fowler, and producer Oren Brimer to discuss the resonance and appeal of Crashing, once they could stop gushing about The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (they are all huge fans).
Did you really make a lasagna after a hookup?
Pete Holmes: Yes. That’s a great question. No one has asked me on the record. But that’s a real thing. First of all people, I saw a couple of people talking about you can’t just pour raw pasta into a tray and put sauce on it. Yes, you can.
Jamie Lee: You can.
I did not know that. I assumed a fire was going to be next when the scene started.
Holmes: I would have thought the same thing if I didn’t know Prego Pasta Bake was a thing. Which doesn’t exist anymore. But our wonderful props people made a thing of Prego Pasta Bake, because it really happened. I made it, I put it on a glass table that belonged to my mother that was from the ’70s. It was really thick — they don’t even make them like that anymore — and it cracked just exactly like it happened on the show. But it was me and my ex-wife’s table. Which explains why she left.
Why do you think it is about Crashing that resonates with people?
Holmes: I think the joke that is now a joke that I always make is that it’s called Crashing and not Flourishing. It’s very deliberate. I know. Guys.
Oren Brimer: It’s the first time he’s serious when he says this.
Holmes: I’m serious! But that is what I think people like about it potentially. And I’d love to hear what everyone else has to say. We also have really great cameos. Love me some cameos.
Jermaine Fowler: Definitely.
Are you coming back on the show?
Fowler: I am. I’m in episode six.
Brimer: Let him finish the point.
Fowler: [Laughing.] Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to cut you off.
Holmes: No, it’s okay! But it just sounds like I said “It’s called Crashing, not Flourishing” for no reason. So what I like about the show is that the show is about the struggle.
Brimer: There we go.
Holmes: A lot of people are struggling, and I think they find solidarity in watching a show that’s not just like “Everything’s easy!” This show is about how difficult things are and that means you’re doing it correctly, and also cameos.