Let’s Check in on HBO’s Crashing, Shall We?

Comedy Features Crashing
Let’s Check in on HBO’s Crashing, Shall We?

I was thinking it might be fun to recap what’s transpired on this season of Crashing, the HBO series about the folkloric half-goat, half-demon who terrorizes ill-behaved children at Christmastime. Oh wait, no, that’s Krampus. Crashing is about if people liked Pete Holmes. Well, let’s check in on it anyways. Here’s what’s gone down in the first half of season two:

Episode one, “The Atheist”: Pete gets Jamie Lee a spot at the club he barks for. Lee plays someone named Ali but I’m going to call her by her real name, because practically every other real-life comic in Crashing got to keep theirs. Later Pete meets Penn Jillette, who exposes him to the argument from inconsistent revelations against Pascal’s Wager. Pete, who I guess has never considered that maybe there is no god, goes to a burlesque club and lets loose. He imbibes; he dances; he wears a feather boa. He winds up at the Fat Black Pussycat, where Dave Attell and Artie Lange invite him onstage to shoot the shit. When the shit has sufficiently been shot, he heads over to the bar and tells Jamie Lee she should take him home, which she does, and they have sex, and the camera focuses on Pete’s big grinning face, just his big speechless face grinning speechlessly, and you hear her say “So good.”

Episode two, “Pete and Leif”: The next morning, Pete misses every cue to leave Jamie’s apartment when she goes to work. Instead he sleeps in, then heads to her kitchen to make a lasagna. One assumes 45 minutes to an hour pass as the lasagna cooks. He takes the lasagna to her living room and places it on a glass table while he watches TV. You’ll never guess what happens: the hot glass pan of the lasagna cracks the glass table. (I regret to add that this apparently actually happened.) Then Jamie comes home with a friend who is also a man, much to Pete’s alarm. She tries to beat the concept of casual sex into his head, which Pete cannot quite wrap his head around, and he reflexively tells her “I love you” as she closes the door on his face. This was only the first ten minutes of the episode; I cannot tell you what happened next because I stopped watching. I stepped outside for a breath of fresh air, one thing led to another and I wound up on a marvelous ferry ride around the Bay. I saw sea lions; I witnessed a flock of cormorants dive into the water as one. I reflected on all I left behind to move here, and I realized that none of it is quite so far away as it often seems. The gold sun glittered above the green hills and for a moment, one perfect moment, I forgot there’s even such a thing as “HBO’s Crashing,” and in that moment I knew peace.

Episode three, “Bill Burr”: Pete crashes with Bill Burr. Pete goes golfing with Bill Burr. Pete and Bill Burr get to riffing about how abortion is murder: A fetus is like a tray of cake batter, they say; it’s not a cake, but it was gonna be a cake if you left it in the oven. Bill Burr asks Pete if he can use this joke, Pete says yes, and later, at a club, Bill Burr uses this joke. Pete records the bit and posts it on Instagram, where Jezebel gets ahold of it and publishes an article criticizing Bill Burr. Pete is terrified Bill Burr will be angry with him, but Bill Burr is not angry with him, because they’re friends now, because Bill Burr likes him.

Episode four, “Porter Got HBO”: Pete, crashing once again in Leif’s garage, cannot sleep, because Leif is having loud sex upstairs with a mysterious woman. Pete, uh, how do I say this, jerks off to that. The next morning he goes upstairs and discovers that his ex-wife Jess has stayed over. For you see, she explains, she and Leif are having just-friends sex. Then she and Pete have a nice just-friends lunch before they return to the garage to watch just-friends TV. Would you believe that the power goes out? Well, the power goes out and Pete tries to kiss her, she rebuffs him, he desperately tries to pressure her into sleeping with him, just like she slept with Leif, no strings attached, and she keeps saying no, she doesn’t want that, and he finally gives up as the power comes back on. Then, during the rest of the episode, Pete’s comic friend Porter (Henry Zebrowski) books an HBO showcase produced by Whitney Cummings. For some reason Porter considers Pete a reliable source of moral support and takes him to the taping, where Pete talks him into shaving off his facial hair, which Porter immediately regrets and then goes onstage and kills anyway. All of this serves to make Pete realize that maybe he’s not so good at comedy after all, that all of this suffering—this crashing, if you will—has been in the service of a goal much more distant than he ever thought. Pathos!

Episode five, “Too Good”: In this episode, Pete requests a night off from barking to check out the alt comedy scene. His boss yells at him for indulging in such trifling frivolity, even though Crashing theoretically takes place in the present day, when Chris Gethard has not only performed at the Comedy Cellar but also has an HBO special. Anyway, Pete checks out a show at Greenpoint’s WORD Books, the cute little indie bookstore where I saw my first comedy show after moving to New York City all those four years ago. On the lineup is Jamie Lee, who Pete approaches afterward and who immediately forgives him for making a lasagna in her apartment after their one-night stand several nights earlier, and also for breaking the table with that lasagna, and also for making a big scene about her having a male friend. In addition to forgiving him, Jamie says, about a situation in which she unequivocally did nothing wrong: “I’m also sorry. We both could have been our better selves in that situation.” In addition to saying that, she cackles with glee when he says “I are sorry—toys are us. I are sorry.” Then they go to a series of shows, including one at Rififi where Pete makes a fool of himself asking John Mulaney to cede his spot to Jamie, and where Pete also mucks up taping her set, laughing during the whole thing. Jamie is very angry about this and asks Pete to leave her alone, but Pete refuses to leave her alone, and busts them both out of a stalled train so they can rush to a show where he re-tapes her set. Then they bone.

And that’s it! That’s what happened on Crashing, the story of how one man missed enough social cues that every famous comic he met took pity on him, and also a woman to whom he was objectively terrible slept with him because he did her two favors—Sundays at 10:30 p.m. on HBO.

Seth Simons is Paste’s assistant comedy editor. Follow him on Twitter.

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