by Ryan Meehan
May 14th will bring the release of “Nice Try, The Devil”, the new standup album from Pete Holmes. It’s a CD/DVD combo and the bonus features include Homes’ appearance on “Comedy Central Presents” as well as his performance from “John Oliver’s New York Standup Show”.
Like most comedians, Pete is a busy guy. His most recent television appearance was as a panelist on the panel of “The Jeselnik Offensive”, where he was totally panel. He is the voice of the E-Trade baby from the series popular television commercials, and has recently worked as a story editor on the FOX Comedy “I Hate My Teenage Daughter” as well as NBC’s “Outsourced”. As of late, Pete’s comedic presence is very strong in the world of podcasting. Aside from his appearances on the podcasts of other comedians, Pete has his own show “You Made it Weird” on Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist Network which has featured guests such as Judd Apatow, Adam Carolla, and Sarah Silverman. To top it all off, Holmes will be hosting his own half-hour late night talk show on TBS later this fall.
With all of that, you’d hardly think that Pete Holmes would have the time or the material to do an entirely new standup special. So let’s take a look at how that disc holds up as we examine the album.
This is Pete’s second disc, the follow-up to “Impregnated with Wonder” which was released in November of 2011. That album was named one of the best comedy CDs of 2011 by the Onion AV Club, and if your stuff’s not good that publication will fucking tear you apart.
Pete doesn’t look like our idea of a standup comedian these days. He riffs on that a little in the opening as I can agree with him that he does in fact look like a youth pastor. Of course, that’s after he addresses the common mispronunciation of teeth as “teef”, the not so common mispronunciation of Celin Dion’s name, and a brief commentary on white wine. Pete moves quickly through some good starter jokes and gets the audience going. There’s a bit called “Pierce” that he does which sounds like it’s a word association improv game, playing on “Juan” sounding like a variation of a couple popular English words.
The next bit is about how the most uncool thing you can say at a gathering is to compare it to McDonald’s. Too good to give away and one of the best punchlines on the disc. Pete goes on to playfully discuss race as he mentions a recent trip to Atlanta, and provides an excellent tip on getting out of any bad neighborhood in a rental car. But it’s nothing too extreme or nothing that includes any slurs or anything like that. Such is the case with his next bit which is about dropping a dog, and no animals were harmed in the making of this album.
A lot of single comics discuss single life, and after having seen a lot of family-oriented material as of late, it was refreshing to hear Pete’s next bit about being single. It was at this point that I realized that Holmes’ strength lies in what he might say but doesn’t mean. In other words, he feels the need to explain himself a lot after making a statement but when he clarifies it the results can be hilarious.
Holmes talks about how even though he’s a straight man, that he’s gay for Ryan Gosling and how every man has their price when it comes to performing a gay sex act. This produces what has to be my favorite quote on the record “How many Tahitian Islands and polar bear butlers would it take you to erase the memory of 15 minutes on a lonely Thursday?” It’s a fair question, and now I fucking want a polar bear butler.
The next part of the record begins with Holmes going over how all guys hate their girlfriend’s friends, a topic everyone of the male gender can appreciate. He transitions into a hypothetical scenario where a video game character goes to the doctor which is kind of a lull in the program, but he brings it back nicely with a bit about the magic of breast milk and how we are all a little off for liking such a strange thing. Pete also mentions that in his opinion being killed by arrows would be the toughest way to go, and then starts discussing religion but here again doesn’t make it too heavy or uncomfortable. The end of this segment is where the album title comes from, and reminded me of an ex co-worker that of mine who used to talk like that. Have you ever noticed that sometimes people who are super religious us the term “the devil” as if he’s some guy that you run into everyday in line at the grocery store? I have, and I’m glad somebody else did and that personal was a headlining standup comedian.
The last portion of the album consists of a story about counterharrassment in the form of attacking telemarketers who call people at home and how while others are annoyed, Holmes sees it as an opportunity to mess with people.
Overall, the disc stays within the lines and doesn’t go out of its way to try and really discuss any topic that is super deep and/or controversial. The word that keeps coming up is playfully, Pete obviously isn’t a comedian that takes himself too seriously. There’s no crowd work on the audio CD, and there are no hecklers either. Pete keeps things light while still knowing where to place profanity – I didn’t think there was any unnecessary swearing that didn’t need to be there, but at the same time it wasn’t Dave Coulier clean which is fine because Cascade comedy isn’t something that I’m a fan of. The only real thing that I noticed on the DVD was that it seems as if Pete laughs at his own stuff too quickly, almost as if he’s beat his audience to the punchline. It’s very subtle and I didn’t notice it until the third or fourth time I watched, but I feel like I should mention it nonetheless. Other than that this is a really good standup record. Pete’s going to be on television a lot more soon, so I’m interested to see how his brand of humor will translate to TV.
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