AUSTIN — For any comedy nerd, last night’s shows at South by Southwest were prettay prettay prettay good. Pete Holmes hosted the first ever live taping of his podcast, You Made It Weird. Joining the comic onstage was Kumail Nanjiani, who also performed in last night’s Funny or Die Showcase. The two are old friends – or, as Pete would say, long friends – so their witty repartee was quick and natural. Even during their brief foray into racial humor, which left the audience nervously chuckling.
Here’s a juicy little nugget for you: Nanjiani auditioned for Saturday Night Live recently, but is still waiting on the final word from Lorne Michaels HQ. Cross your fingers, y’all, he’d be great.
Earlier today, I had read some very encouraging tweets about Holmes’s second guest, but didn’t want to get my hopes up. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed. Legendary writer, director, and producer Judd Apatow took a seat onstage after Nanjiani to rapturous applause from the audience. Now, I have an enormous amount of respect for Apatow and his body of work, but I must admit I had the same question that Holmes led off with: “Why are you a guest on my show?”
Apatow replied, “I’m rich enough to take risks.” And he’s honest.
Apatow’s wealth and vast success was a tongue-in-cheek theme for the rest of the show, especially after a star struck Chris Gethard took the stage. Apatow mentioned he had recently purchased Gethard’s book, A Bad Idea I’m About to Do, which cued attempts to sell Apatow stories to become feature films. After a brief walk-on by Doug Benson, who donned a black tuxedo (seriously, y’all, he cleans up good), Todd Barry took the stage and defused some of Holmes’ wild hyena energy. The conversation ended where any comedy podcast ought to: debating the possibility of a higher power and souls on Earth.
Like Marc Maron’s and Jeffrey Tambor’s discussion of the Holocaust on Sunday’s live taping of WTF, it was hilarious.
One new event this year was last night’s Upright Citizens Brigade All-Star Improv showcase, which featured several performers from New York and Los Angeles. Holmes returned as master of ceremonies by offering monologues the improv troupe would enact.
Here’s another juicy little nugget: Holmes had a mad awkward and slightly tragic romantic life back in the day. Pete, from my heart to yours: sorry your date left you for her future husband at the prom – that’s low, but man, what a great story.
Anyway, I’m a bit hard to please when it comes to improv comedy since I hail from Chicago, arguably the improv capital of the nation. I must say, though, I was pleasantly surprised by this group’s performance. Though a few scenes met with a more reserved response, others evoked howling laughter. Protip: if you need to make folks laugh, have two men share an awkward prolonged kiss onstage. Apparently, it works like a charm.