Conan O'Brien has been TBS's main man in late night for three years now, but he's still searching for the Colbert/Ferguson to follow his Stewart/Letterman. And it looks like he may have found him in the super-tall form of comedian and podcaster, Pete Holmes. The Pete Holmes Show, a 30-minute chaser following the hour-long Conan, hits the airwaves on October 28 at midnight. Holmes stopped by the New York Comic Con recently to discuss adapting his popular podcast to the airwaves and to play a very special round of F/M/K.
On Whether His Podcast Will Adapt Easily to a TV Format
Yeah, it's not going to work. [Laughs] No, I think what we're going to see in terms of the show is a transfer of sensibility. The things I’m interested in -- video games, comic books, sex, God, comedy -- are going to be represented on the show. As for the interviews themselves, I expect the show is going to have a large online presence like Conan does and, like The Daily Show, we've been overshooting our interviews and will have them available online. So if we go to a place which may not be hilarious, but very interesting, we will put that online for people to enjoy that way. But Season 2: four-hour blocks, definitely.[Laughs]
On How Writing for Scripted TV Prepared Him to Host a Late Night Show
What I learned from working on scripted shows like Outsourced and I Hate My Teenage Daughter is that sometimes it takes a roomful of geniuses to write a show that no one likes. Some of the funniest people I've ever met and worked with were on those TV shows. Unfortunately, they didn't work! But doing late night is like being the king of some sort of candy factory. Like, we just did a skit called Good Will Batman, which is putting Batman in Good Will Hunting. I woke up and thought of that and, back in the day, if we wanted to do that, it would have been a months-long process. Now when we have an idea, we can put it to the network, get a pretty fair budget and get it done faster. It's a wonderful way to make more of what I'm thinking of and getting it out there.
On Training His Writing Staff to Write For Him
We have four writers, so it's a small staff. The name of the game right now is trying to teach people how to write for you. These people came from other worlds and jobs, so you're trying to show them, "My Batman wouldn't say this, but he would say this." So you sound like a lunatic who starts referring to himself in the third person! But we're trying to teach people the tone and in terms of the tone, we're not boring, we do have sort of an edge to us. At the same time, it's very positive. There's a little bit of a happiness and silliness to it. We were just on the floor here at Comic Con and I think the natural choice for a comedian would be, "Look at these idiots." But our vibe is, "This is the greatest!" Like, I see Deadpool and I don't really know who that is, but I'm excited to see Deadpool! So we're not going to be saccharine and stupid and false -- we're going to real, but it's going to be in that sort of Conan way, where it's not at anyone's expense. Even if you have mixed feelings about Affleck as Batman, we didn't go after Affleck. We just put his Batman in Good Will Hunting. That's the sort of mentality we have. If you want to just shit on Affleck, you can watch any other show.
On How He Would Have Landed this Gig in the Pre-Podcasting Era
I think I would have just been selling goldfish in a bag at a carnival or going door-to-door. [Laughs] What people respond to is intimacy and regularity and podcasts are just the newest way to become a regular person in someone's life. When you're just a stand-up, you might show up on TV three or four times if you're a success. And that's not someone you can form this para-social relationship with. It is a relationship, but it's one-sided. The reason people love Conan or Fallon or Kimmel is that they show up in your life every day. That's the same reason people love Scott Aukerman or Marc Maron; they show up in their lives two or three times a week. My advice to comedians or anyone else getting into podcasting is that you have to set a standard: This is how much I'm going to be in your life. Like, I'm going to be in your life every Monday and Wednesday for sometimes four hours talking about mushroom trips.
On His Guest List
The show is not going to be celebrity-driven as much. That might be stupid for ratings, but I want it to have that feel. Nobody who has done the show is promoting anything; people are coming on because they want to come and hang out or because we want to bounce off each other. I think that's going to be another reason why the show stands out. It's not going to be promotional stuff and the monologue isn't going to be set-up/punchline pulled from the news. It's going to be more personal and could be about anything. Like, I don't care if a Vermont man found a dead beaver in his garbage disposal. I would rather do a monologue about how I don't want to be a sad dad or me binging on Oreos like I did in my hotel room last night.
On His Planned In-Studio Skits
We won't be doing Top Ten list sort of things, but there will be stuff with me in front of the audience getting a live response. Like on the podcast, we do lists of fake video games and for the pilot, we had some of them mocked up, like Grand Theft Auto: Canada. The subtitle is: "Sure, You Can Borrow it!" and the cover is someone through you the keys with a big smile. But being a half-hour, that's all we have time for: a monologue, some sketches, one in-studio, an interview and then we're out of there. I'm glad my show is only half-an-hour, because it's already overwhelming. But I could see it expanding. The original Tonight Show was 90 minutes and live. So that's my goal: live, 90 minutes, black and white.
F/M/K: Seth Myers, Craig Ferguson, Dan Abrams
I'm not embarrassed to admit that I don't know who Dan Abrams is. [Note: He's a legal commentator and co-anchor of Nightline.] So I'm going to kill Dan Abrams. Dan Abrams, I'm coming for ya. Craig Ferguson feels more like a one-night stand -- he's all over the place and won't stand still -- so I bet he's good for a toss. And Seth, he's got those soft eyes; I'd marry that man, no problem. Anybody else want to know who I'd fuck or murder? I was told this was only going to be fuck or murder questions. [Laughs]
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