Comedian Pete Holmes has the kind of amiably innocent demeanor that would make him the perfect supermarket greeter but seems out of place in the cynical, cutthroat — and, at times, just plain coked-up — world of stand-up. That jarring disjunction fuels this New York-based show, a Judd Apatow-executive-produced, Holmes-created meta-sitcom in the tradition of Louie and Maron, which mines the personal history of the former Pete Holmes Show host with highly enjoyable results.
Holmes plays “Pete,” a much less experienced and successful version of his real self who, after splitting up with his wife (Lauren Lapkus), begins crashing at the abodes of more successful stand-ups like the playing-themselves Artie Lange and T.J. Miller, the latter of whom really did help Holmes get back on his feet again following his actual divorce. (Future guests this season will include Sarah Silverman.) Holmes himself is not particularly funny on the show, as a character or a comedian, but that’s rather the point, and his costars pick up the slack, as when Miller roasts Lange for wearing cargo pants (“What cargo are you carrying? Nostalgia for the ’90s?”).
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Holmes is terrific as the show’s emotional core, a walking wound upon whom the universe dumps a daily and generous-sized portion of salt. Crashing is happy to wear its heart on its sleeve — or, more accurately, on the big goofy face of its leading man. B+
Crashing premieres Sunday at 10:30 p.m. ET on HBO.