“Artie Lange” - Crashing Review

Chad White

Crashing
“Artie Lange”
Season 1, Episode 1

It's not about getting on stage all the time.

There are so many shows about comedians being comedians on right now. Master of None, Take My Wife, Lady Dynamite. That’s not to mention the others that have recently left the airwaves like Maron and Louie. Then there are the ones that failed miserably like Mulaney. It’s an easy genre to get into for these well-established standups to have some sort of television presence. But, at this point in time, it’s trite and overburdened with samey feeling shows that follow similar patterns. Enter HBO’s Crashing the chronicles the early years of Pete Holmes after he gets cheated on by his wife (played by Lauren Lapkus). Even with all the talent behind the series (Judd Apatow is producing and people like Jamie Lee and Judah Miller are writing), it still feels like its contemporaries. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

If you’re a fan of Holmes’ podcast You Made It Weird, then you know the story of his first marriage backwards, forwards and every which way. Homles plays a subdued version of himself – pre-laugh if that’s a timeline indication. It’s a portrait of the comedian we’ve never seen but one can assume, as he gets more confident on stage, he’ll turn into the doughy, loveable buffoon he is today. Even still, the writing of the first episode – storytelling is shepherded by Holmes himself and Apatow directed – is wonderful and nothing short of what one comes to expect from either of the two.

Characters are introduced naturally and neither Lapkus’s wife nor her cheating (also married) partner Leif (George Basil) are portrayed as complete jerks. Also note that the appearances of comedians here is purely for comedy fans. Seeing people Rachel Feinstein and Artie Lange is always good. With this being the first episode, there is the element of too much exposition. But a pilot, a comedy one at that, pretty much relies on the practice. For what it’s worth, Crashing varies wildly from Apatow’s other HBO comedy, Girls. It’s a solid fresh breath of air.

Should you watch Crashing?

For a premiere, Crashing did well. It established characters and stories as simply as it needed to. But it joins an already congested space. For it to survive, it has to keep the quality up yet manage its own voice. Judd Apatow might have another solid comedy on his hands.