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Weird Made Good: Pete Holmes and Guests Shine At UP

By Marielle Shaw in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 10, 2014 10:00PM

Photo by Marielle Shaw

It was a confusing, serpentine line at Piper's Alley this past Friday night to see the live taping of Pete Holmes' successful podcast, You Made It Weird. But once the doors opened and we saw the six chairs sitting on stage waiting for Holmes and his guests, we knew we'd be in for a good time.

Holmes came out of the gates on Friday night at top speed, with charm to spare, a giddy humor and excitement that easily took down walls between himself and the crowd. He launched right in with silly stories and crowd work that quickly turned towards discussion of religion. While crowd work can seem disingenuous in some cases and any discussion of religion can create a need for a comedian to pull a U-turn, "making it weird" is where Pete shines.

Holmes worked solo for the first 20 minutes of the show and, while we were excited to see his guests, the laughs he provided also left us wanting to buy tickets for the next night's solo standup show. Holmes is big-hearted, slightly neurotic, a bit twisted and completely hilarious.

Holmes spent some time living in Chicago as a young comic and, fortunately for his audience, made several hilarious friends while he was here who he proceeded to introduce, interrogate and riff with throughout the evening. Featured on the show were Sean Flannery, LA based opener Chris Thayer, the Puterbaugh sisters and CJ Sullivan. Everyone brought a new dynamic to the evening, particularly show-closer Sullivan and Flannery, who described life with his children and his subsequent research into sociopathy. Holmes has a way of resurrecting what few moments would have fallen flat without taking away from anyone else.

This was the best of both worlds. Holmes is a fantastic headliner—a genuine, good-natured guy who also happens to be a giant weirdo willing to share just about anything with anyone, encouraging them to do the same. As Sullivan noted, Holmes has a laser accuracy for callbacks and an ability to turn almost any situation around for the sake of a good laugh. But this was also a good chance for an audience who may have been there primarily for Holmes to get a good look at the great comics who still call Chicago home.

That made it not only weird, but wonderful.