May 8, 2017, 10:22 pm
There could be a whole psychological study on why I love standup comedy.
For some unfathomable reason, my parents got me the Los Cochinos album by Cheech and Chong when I was like seven years old.
It was filled with drug humor, and even as a little kid, I got it: two dudes smoked something and it made their minds weird, and it was hilarious. I loved that the album cover was cut to the shape of a Volkswagen Beetle and there was all kinds of graffiti on the back side, but what I really loved was the impeccable timing of the greatest comedy duo (yes, even including Abbot and Costello and the Smothers Brothers) in the history of comedy.
From that time to this, I have always been a fan of standup comedy, and (forgive my rape-forgetting nostalgia), even including Bill Cosby from the '60s.
The man is a bastard. And what he did to like fifty women is unforgivable. But I didn't know any of that when I was laughing to his albums in the 1970s, imagining Junior Jones getting a mouthful of spit, or Fat Albert solving the ghetto's problems, or a traffic jam in San Francisco turning into a used car lot, or a tree biting a car, or a student asking a coach teaching a science class "why is there air?" Howard Stern swears he never understood why people thought Cosby was funny, but I really did, when I was a kid. Maybe that's the problem, Howard was an adult when Cosby hit.
Fast forward to 1983, with Eddie Murphy in a pleather zoot suit, pacing back and forth on a state like his idol Richard Pryor, commanding his audience like a demented conductor, making what now would be considered unforgivably homophobic and racist jokes that made a multicultural audience lose its shit in laughter.
Or in the modern day, my favorite comedian, Patton Oswalt, making me laugh so hard I thought I might literally die of an aneurism while making fun of Holocaust victim Anne Frank's story. Or Louis CK making me spit out my gum while mowing the lawn and listening to him talk about how horrible people his children are. Or, and God forgive me, Daniel Tosh and pretty much everything he has ever said. The man makes me want to pee my pants—even if I don't have to pee—because his humor is so WRONG.
So, when Stern is not producing new shows for four days of the seven-day week, I tune my SiriusXM radio to the four or five comedy channels there, and in the last year or so, I've been loving a comedian named Pete Holmes, who is mostly clean, but whose Christian background makes for some biting and insightful humor nonetheless.
So you can imagine my joy when I saw he had a show on HBO called Crashing, which co-starred two of my other favorites, TJ Miller and Artie Lange (Stern show alumnus).
Also, and this is a side-note, if you ever hear Artie say "Don't come back until you have Hepatitis C," you're watching a show worthy of the title "Wrong, but fucking funny."
In addition, if you hear the protagonist answer the hooker responding to that by asking "what do you like" and the respondent saying "I love free wifi and breakfast for dinner," you know you've stumbled onto a great show.
What I found, besides an over-the-top indulgence of my passion for stand-up comedy, but also a poignant and sometimes-sad telling of the true lives of struggling comedians, paying to perform at open mikes, hawking flyers on the streets of New York City in the hopes of maybe getting five minutes of time if they are able to draw in enough paying customers to the club. And the self-inflicted tragedy of loving comedy so much that they estrange everyone else in their lives, much as an alcoholic or drug addict does.
It is the perfect balance of sadness, humor, hope and despair. It's one of the best-written shows I've watched in awhile, and that's a pretty big compliment, coming from a self-centered guy like me who believes he is a great writer.
Pete Holmes is a great comedian, and I think he may be even a greater writer. Because the show is on pay network HBO, it may not get the kind of viewership it deserves, and that's a tragedy, because it touches all the bases in the best forms of entertainment, while keeping me laughing through all the tragedy and drama. That's a hell of a tough balance to strike.
Did I mention Dave Attell? I've talked about him before—he's one of the best comedians you've never heard of. Scratch that. He's THE best comedian you've never heard of. If you haven't heard Dave Attell's standup, you haven't heard standup. Do not argue. I'm right about this. But Crashing features Dave Attell. So there's a reason to watch it, all by itself. Oh, plus, one of my longtime celebrity crushes (no, not Natalie Portman, at least not in this series), Sarah Silverman. She is a pivotal character that furthers Pete's career, plus, she's also ... um, Sarah Silverman.
Do yourself a favor, and stream or subscribe to HBO and watch every episode of Crashing. You will not be mad at me for suggesting it.