Miami Living Magazine

Bailee Madison

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Page 120 of 187

"Probably a year later," Pete's talk show was cancelled, and he found himself brainstorming what his next move should be. Confident he could tell his story, he began fleshing it out into a TV show. "In my car one day, I remember thinking, Oh, my character should be homeless, should be broke, and every episode, he could crash on the couch of a different person. It suddenly became a show I could see being episodic and unique, and it gave it an engine to have guest stars on." He thought this up on Wednesday and flew to New York on Friday to pitch it to Judd, who was filming Trainwreck at the time. Judd didn't say yes right away, instead, he told Pete to write a script. Two days later, when Pete returned with the script, Judd told him to write another. "I sent him another one in two days. We did that five times –it was almost like karate kid. He wanted me to paint the fence before he could teach me karate," explains Pete. Judd would give him notes and he took it through about twelve rewrites before they pitched it to HBO and Amazon. HBO picked it up. "To the one I wrote, to the one we shot —very, very different," he says about the original script and first episode. If you missed Season One, here's what happened. Pete leaves home after walking in on his wife, Jess, (played by Lauren Lapkus) with her lover, Leif (played by George Basil). As Pete is trying to make it as a newly-single, heartbroken stand-up comedian, he finds support and refuge from fellow comics, including Artie Lange, Sarah Silverman, and T.J. Miller, who play themselves. What makes Crashing so great is Pete – this grown man, towering over all at 6'6", who is just this sweet, sheltered, childlike underdog you want to see win. You can't help but laugh at the way this big kid tries to somewhat awkwardly navigate his new reality. It's hilarious. A happy-go-lucky guy in real life, Pete tells me that people often thought drugs were behind his high-on-life attitude. "People sometimes would be like, 'I'm not joking, what drug are you on? because nobody is this happy.' I was just happy to be doing it. Just happy to be in a club. Just happy to be doing comedy. I had a very clear idea that I wanted to be a comedian. Just doing comedy in New York meant a lot to me," he says with a smile. During my chat with Pete, I find his personality to be very similar to his character's, which he agrees with. His character's essence is described by his love interest, Ali, in Season Two as a dorky dad at a barbeque. "When I play the guy on the show, I just think of myself, but sweeter and more innocent, more naïve. That's what's really changed. I think I'm a little bit wiser, but I like to think that deep down I'm similar, because he is a nice guy," remarks the 38-year-old actor. So, what other parts were pulled from your life? "Almost everything has some kernel of truth to it." Like his character, Pete was a devoted Christian. However, these days, his views on religion have broadened. "I lean towards Christ, but I wouldn't call myself a Christian any more than I would call myself a Buddhist or a Hindu or all these different traditions that I enjoy now. Certainly, who I was growing up, wouldn't think a person like me was a Christian, even though I love Christ, which is kinda confusing," he laughs. Pete's wife did leave when he was 28. And for stage time, like his character, he barked and did warm-up for The Daily Show. "The heart of the show is authentic and there's a couple of other things that happen in the second season that are all real, like getting into the college market, and that sort of stuff." As for his perpetual crashing at peoples' houses, that was exaggerated. "I remember John Mulaney, Nick Kroll, and Craig Baldo helped me find an apartment. I was staying at a comedian's place for a while, and then T.J. Miller was shooting a movie and he let me stay with him for a week or so. While I didn't stay on their couches, the comedy community did support me and help me at that time, so, it's kind of a metaphor for that." Season Two of Crashing premiered this January. "The second season we kinda open to, I don't want to say a lower place, more of an accepting place, which is kinda self-medicating, trying to find his way in the world. Trying to find a place to live still. He starts dating a comedienne [Ali, played by Jamie Lee], that's what I would say is maybe the arc of the whole season, his relationship with one of his own." Just like in his real life, the first person Pete dated after his ex-wife was a comedienne. His character Pete also discovers the alt scene. Places that an alt show might happen are bookstores, laundromats, and movie theaters, he explains. "This room we're in right now is actually a good example. It's based on what happened in my real life, which was, I did way better there. They're a little bit politer, they listen more, they tend to skew a little bit younger… and as a result, my character kinda gets funnier. Which is good for the show!" he laughs. "I think the second season is funnier and better in every way —so I really hope people like it." Pete's journey to Crashing was full of several little victories, which is kind of what the show is about: "micro-achievements…the idea that you kinda have to make it like 12 times," Pete tells me. At the age of 22, after college, Pete got married. From there, he moved to Chicago and did improv for three years, and then stand-up –occasionally working a weekend at a comedy club. He never doubted that he would be a comedian. "Obviously, those feelings are in you somewhere, but they never came to a conscious level, because they weren't helpful. We were good enough at stand-up that you would get just enough of a boost to not give up on yourself," says Pete. Around 2004, Pete moved to New York and started performing at the alt scene and after about two months, landed on a Comedy Central show doing stand-up and a VH1 show doing commentary. "I was performing every night, everywhere, and then, I finally did the right show, where one right person was, which got me those two TV things." THE MASKED COMEDIAN Did you know Pete is the creator of the widely known spoof of Batman for CollegeHumor (2009-2014)? The web series –co-written with Oren Brimer— consists of 14 episodes, with its most popular sketch, "Batman Can't Stop Thinking About Sex," garnering over 38 million views. "I always used to joke, 'cause I was trying to get more stand-up work obviously, the most popular thing I've done, I'm wearing a mask, so nobody knows it's me," he laughs, "which is fine, but at the time, I remember being frustrated." The idea for the web series grew from Pete's love for those movies. "I met Oren, who is a writer/producer on Crashing, we've done everything together. I met this guy who was able to make videos. And when a guy with ideas meets a guy who can make videos, like produce, that's another kind of marriage, work marriage, because I had lots and lots of sketch ideas and nobody that could make them." Pete knew the CollegeHumor guys, so he teamed up with them and they financed the videos. "Val and I get stoned and we'll watch them, just 'cause we think they're funny. I had to be stoned, but still, they're some of the funnier things I've done in my life, because I think they're coming from a place of love for the movies, but also a place of, it's more fun to make fun of something, ya know?"

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