By John Bucher (@johnkbucher)


Pete Holmes is the most important icon of faith and transcendence you’ve never heard of. He’s had brushes with success in smaller niche communities. He’s one of the biggest names in the alt-standup comedy circuit. He hosted a late-night talk show on TBS for a short time. He gained underground cred portraying Batman in a series of legendary Funny or Die skits. And at the very least, you probably saw him as the E-trade baby a few years ago. However, with his new HBO show CRASHING, he should become a house-hold name, in the vein of Lena Dunham. The man responsible for bringing Dunham to the masses, Judd Apatow, is behind the camera on Holmes’s new show as well. And like the GIRLS star, Holmes has a deeper philosophy and method than the show he helms lets on.


Holmes attended the conservative Christian Gordon College, set on becoming a youth pastor. He met and married his wife there, and set out to try his hand at stand-up comedy shortly after graduating. Early in his journey to stardom, his wife revealed that she had been having an affair and wanted a divorce. Holmes was devastated. Everything he had built his life on had seemingly failed him. He lost it all – his wife, his faith, and his life. He began crashing on fellow comedians’ couches in New York City while working the stages of the town’s toughest comedy clubs at night. Eventually, Holmes not only found his way into professional success, he also found his way back into a life that could include transcendence, wonder, and even faith. This is what CRASHING is about.


While the language, crass humor, and sexuality will likely prevent it, communities encouraging the culture to take a second look at faith should be holding Holmes up as the poster boy. He is the embodiment of the young person raised in a religious tradition who left it when it didn’t turn out the way he had been promised, but somehow later returned to a greater yet wider understanding of it, rather than rejecting it completely. In an age where recent political strife has caused people on both sides of the aisle to give up on the narrative they had believed was their own, Holmes represents the hope that a third way can open up when our binary approaches fail us. The third way will always look different. It may contain elements we would have never previously considered or even previously thought to be ill-advised. Joseph Campbell once suggested that the cave we are afraid to enter is the one that we must, in order to find that which we’ve been searching for. Holmes entered that cave. He has returned from its depths and is living proof there is more than what pessimism, sarcasm, and doubt offer us.