Pete Holmes at the Up Comedy Club
Comedians have been swarming about Chicago like an annual cloud of buzzing cicadas. No, they’re not in town to mate – necessarily. Instead, they’ve been turning up to participate in the TBS Just For Laughs Festival. Some are promoting TV shows and albums, while others are pushing podcasts or just good old fashioned stand up. But TBS’s renaissance golden boy, Pete Holmes, fresh off the release of his new album Nice Try, The Devil, can boast about covering all of these bases. The thirty-four year old comedian landed himself a TV gig, The Midnight Show with Pete Holmes, which is set to follow Conan this fall. Holmes is also recognizable as the host of the You Made It Weird podcast, and will be recording a live episode later this week. But Tuesday night’s Just For Laughs kickoff at Chicago’s Up Comedy Club proved that having many creative irons in the fire does not detract from good joke telling. Or stray observations. Or an insane wit replete with callbacks, on the fly tweaks, and a lust for pop culture knowledge.
Holmes joked about everyone coming to check out his “Unique brand of bad boy comedy” before riffing on audience member’s name, which was an ongoing and hilarious gag throughout the night. He then bounced between topics, like the subtle art of synchronizing orgasms during sext sessions, to a spot on impersonation of a rooster possessed by Mrs. Doubtfire. Yes, you read that right.
Holmes also discussed a recent concussion and his pathetic attempts at passing a mental awareness test in the hospital. While he struggled to please the doctors by naming some recent presidents, a simple question like name five breakfast cereals you’re mad at would be more appropriate in light of his career choice: “I’m a comedian. Captain Crunch hurts your mouth when you eat it. That’s poor leadership!” This ability to segue back and forth between unpredictable threads of observation and mimicry demonstrated Holmes’ quick thinking, while his mischievous reminder to the crowd “I’m paying very close attention and I will cater the show to your needs” showed a man attuned to what works on stage and what falls flat. Holmes’ next Up Comedy Club set is Thursday at 8. – Dan Pfleegor