Conan. Fallon. Ferguson. Hall. Kimmel. Leno. Letterman. Do we really need another voice in late night? Pete Holmes says yes, which is convenient, since starting tonight he’ll have his own show following Conan on TBS. Those familiar with Holmes through his You Made It Weird podcast know that his penchant for the over share could provide a much-needed kick in the pants to the variety format. But is America ready for that? Rolling Stone provided Holmes with a “safe place” to chat about the late-night wars, his plans to lure Ryan Gosling into his guest chair and why he’s off porn – for now.
Your podcast can get a little personal. Do you plan to bring that to your talk show?
I just interview Rachel Maddow, and not as a prank, but I asked her if she’s done mushrooms. This show is going to be about me and that is why we can afford another one. We can afford a Seth Meyers show, a Jimmy Kimmel show and a Chris Hardwick show. I love this quote by Bill Hicks, he says, “If you’re being yourself, nobody can be you as well as you can be you, so you’ll have supply and demand covered.” It’s going to be me asking about the subjects that I’m interested in, like psychedelics, like meditation, like nutrition, like what kind of soap that they’re using. These are topics that bleed themselves into the way of good conversation.
Have you reached out to Seth or Chris Hardwick since getting the show?
Hardwick has always been great, and just recently, I had a lovely sit down with Seth Meyers here in New York. We talked about comedy and how crazy it is for us to be getting these shows. We even talked about the actual details of what we’re going to be doing with our shows. This is my direct competition, but it doesn’t feel like that.
Had you met him before?
We had met a few times casually but this was the first time that we actually sat down. He referred to it as a rare community, a unique club that so few people get invited into. It makes no sense for us to be adversarial with each other. I love Fallon. I love Letterman. I don’t know if that’s an indication that the climate is different right now, but I don’t feel myself looking over my shoulder and wondering how I can crush the competition.
You’ll be following Conan in the TBS lineup. Has he offered any advice?
Conan has been very accessible. Nobody knows the pressure of starting a show – or dealing with starting a show that isn’t accepted right away – better than Conan. He’s been downright paternal about it. Of course, every time I see him, he busts my balls and says that he’s revoking his endorsement. Everything that he’s done speaks the opposite though. He’s trying to get us more episodes and more time because he knows from first hand experience that these things take time to get off the ground.
What’s the set and format like?
There won’t be a desk – there’ll be two chairs. I just sat in the chairs for the first time the other day and it was incredibly surreal! When we pitched the show to TBS I told them that I thought the show existed already. We were doing videos for College Humor, the stylized Batman videos that people enjoy. Then there will be elements from my podcast in there – it won’t be as celebrity driven as other shows are. It will be my friends and people who are interesting to me. Nobody who’s signed up to come on the show already is promoting anything. It’s got a playhouse – an after school clubhouse feel. A “late night happy place” if you will. The monologue will be a lot different as well: instead of just sounding off on hot topics we will try to have more evergreen conversations.
What kind of conversations?
Like I’m off of porn right now, and I’ve been talking with my friends that it makes sex so much better. That could be a monologue. We’re going to do the “I’m off porn monologue.” I think if people tune in and they see the show’s host talking about how not watching porn makes sex better, that’s good TV. There is nothing wrong with that Tonight Show model, but that’s what we were doing in the ’60s. Why can’t the conversations be a little more evergreen? Why can’t we talk about relationships? Why can’t we reference my divorce? The show is me and I want to invite you to come in as much as you’d like.
But will the Jennifer Anistons of the world come on the show and talk like that?
The first 28 that we do will be my friends and it will be a great way for the television audience to get to know me. I’m looking at these first episodes as a “crash course in me.” Once we’re on and a hit, to speak positively, if Ryan Gosling is watching and wants to come on, that would be fantastic. They’ll see that the experience and the discussions are different than the others that are happening and they will want to come on. Then we will be happy to have the Matt Damons and the Kate Uptons. I like to think that show could turn into that, and because of my candor, it could turn into some sort of comedy Oprah.
Has the show taken over your life yet?
That’s a great question – you’re not a sociopath and you have empathy in you. I appreciate that. I drive to work and I am full of gratitude and enthusiasm. That being said, friendships are just burning up. I just see them in the rearview completely torched. But hopefully people understand and once we get up and running I can find some sort of a balance. My life is the show, I go home, have time for one drink and maybe an hour of Grand Theft Auto and I’m out.