Comedy Sex God
If you’re not familiar with Pete Holmes, he is a standup comedian who had a brief run as a late night talk show host and an HBO series called Crashing that was loosely (or not so loosely based as it turns out) on Holmes’ life. The HBO series, now cancelled, was about a Christian comedian trying to make it in the big bad city of New York after his wife and only sex partner leaves him, which is exactly what happened to Holmes in real life.
He covers all of this and more in this memoir, which is often very funny. Like the way Holmes proposed or did not propose to his first wife. They were both going to a Christian college and sex before marriage was strictly verboten, but his wife got the wedding bells ringing one passionate night.
“I never proposed. There was no bended knee, no heartfelt speech, no gazebo filled with rose pedals . . . there was just a blow job.
“I remember it vividly. Not the blow job—the panic. This meant we were serious. It meant she was The One. So instead of enjoying the moment like the heathens the world over, I was stuck in my head breaking down the logic: Oral sex is sex. Sex is for married people. God can see.
“I’m calling a caterer.
“She didn’t know, but I did: It was our engagement blow job.”
Holmes is kidding in a serious way. He truly was a fervent Christian born and raised who worked at street conversions and acted in skits to highlight the cries of unborn babies facing abortion. Somewhere along the way, Holmes became more comedian than Christian and realized he didn’t believe all Jews, Muslims, and non-believers he knew were really going to be sent to hell for all time.
So he became a non-believer, and the memoir covers typical grounds where Holmes finds success with money, threesomes, and mushrooms but finds that he’s pretty miserable. Something is missing, even after Holmes marries his second wife, a saint named Val.
This is where this book takes a weird and sobering turn. Not many comedic memoirs veer into the land of New Age teachers like Joseph Campbell (whom Holmes calls Joey Cambs) and Ram Dass, but Holmes dives in with gusto. He becomes a devotee of Dass even though Holmes finds himself “blindingly horny” when he visits Dass at his Hawaiian home. (His ruminations on whether or not to soil the great man’s abode by jacking off is pretty funny. Finally, he just tells Dass how horny he is.)
It’s clear Holmes is replacing one God with others, and he understands that but preaches to us anyway.
Some readers might find the back end of the book off-putting, but it is heartfelt. How many other comedians try page after page to explain the mystery of meditation? It’s an unexpected but welcome turn.
Holmes tries as best he can to explain his journey: “I stopped taking my life—my story—so seriously. I started seeing it as a game.
“The Hindus have a word for this game—they call the play or the dance of life ‘lila,’ as in ‘Relax, it’s all just lila.’ Frustrated? Lila. Anxious? Lila. Don’t take it too seriously, it’s just the universe working itself out. It’s all just a passing show.”
When Holmes and his second wife have a daughter, you can guess what they name her—Lila.