Pete Holmes is working on a new joke about a kid with a deep voice. “That’s the whole setup; the punchline is saying childish things in a deep voice for about three minutes,” he says. “Last night I did a joke about how there’s no involuntary noise to make when seeing a magic trick. The rest of the joke is just a noise. People are dying laughing.”
If anyone can get away with this, it’s the amicable Holmes, whose standup fully embraces his goofy, endearing side. In his pitch-perfect 2010 half-hour Comedy Central special, he jokes about having the sense of humor of a “fun dad” and the reasons why renting a car is the ultimate display of adulthood.
There’s no trace of lazy snark in any of his humor. “I say things with fervor, but they’re things no one would really disagree with,” he says. “Like, I get worked up about the fact that there’s something called a boysenberry, and it sounds like ‘poison berry’ — who gives a shit?” Even as a commenter on “Best Week Ever,” Holmes would take the positive side. (“The easiest way to say something’s gross is to say that you love it.”)
The gig led Holmes — who trained as a standup in Chicago — to tour colleges, co-found video company Front Page Films, star in Web series like “Kid Farm” and book a variety of voice-acting gigs, including “Ugly Americans” and a series of commercials as the E-Trade baby. All of which has make Holmes a sought-after comedy writer, adding sitcoms “Outsourced” and “I Hate My Teenage Daughter” to his overcrowded resume.
“There’s a fine line between psycho and appropriate go-gettery,” he jokes.
P.O.V.:“One of the best show business lessons I ever learned was from the New Yorker. They said, ‘We don’t need your cartoons.’ It was such an appropriately humbling moment.”
Influences: Steve Martin. “It has so much to do with how he says what he’s saying.”
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