Pete Holmes of ‘Crashing’ Finds Humor in His Church Roots

Mr. Holmes said that he had spent the previous week in Maui at a meditation and yoga retreat with the spiritual leader Ram Dass. But the “spiritual cleansing,” as he called it, was apparently no match for the stresses of Los Angeles traffic.

He was also facing a pile of deadlines. He needed to finish editing “Crashing,” the HBO show he created and stars in, and which returns for a second season on Jan. 14. And there was a mountain of emails in his inbox. The prospect of having to reply to each one seemed to overwhelm him.

“There’s a subtlety to the ‘nonresponse response,’” Mr. Holmes said. “Sometimes these offers come in and I say, ‘I’ll think about it.’ And ‘I’ll think about it’ means ‘Let me think about it.’”

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Mr. Holmes hugs a sapling at Frosty’s Christmas Trees.

Credit
Jake Michaels for The New York Times

He continued: “But if it’s a no, I’m not going to write and say, ‘It’s a no.’ When you’re really hungry or desperate, a nonreply is a really mean thing. And you might hold that against somebody for years. And yet I do it with people who work for me.”

One is left to imagine how much more frazzled Mr. Holmes would be if it weren’t for his meditation retreats. “I find spirituality so much more essential in a world like the one I live in now,” he said, as he moved to the front porch, where he sank into a love seat, crossed his legs and, for the first time that afternoon, offered his undivided attention. “It’s not just a Sunday-only thing for me. It’s something I’m constantly reading and thinking about.”

Spirituality is in his blood. Raised in the Boston suburb of Lexington, Mr. Holmes attended Gordon College, an evangelical Christian liberal arts school. He married his first girlfriend, at 22, less than a year after graduating, and began performing stand-up comedy.

His early material was PG rated, but getting divorced six years later forced him to re-evaluate his life. And his comedy.

He began making a name for himself as a slightly goofy but confessional voice on the stand-up circuit, culminating in an appearance on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” in 2010. The next year, he appeared on “Conan.” A TBS network executive took notice of his skill set — a relatable brand of comedy with cross-generational appeal — and, in 2013,…

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