Pete Holmes: The 3 Agonizing Stages Between Talk-Show Pilot and Talk Show

The pain of victory. The agony of triumph. They could happen to you if you’re…lucky?


by Pete Holmes

About six months ago, I met with my hero Conan O’Brien to discuss the idea of hosting my version of a Conan-type talk show after his on TBS. As you might imagine, this opportunity was insanely exciting: It felt like I was 7 years old, eating Cap’n Crunch on a Saturday morning and getting a knock on the door from the real-life Cap’n Crunch, who tells me he wants to help me develop my own breakfast cereal, “Lieut’nant Crunch.” It was just like that — but cooler and more surreal.

What followed were several more meetings where I pretended to be comfortable in front of the Cap’n, and then a pitch in front of the heads of TBS. At the end of the meeting, TBS decided to give us the green light to make three pilot episodes and see where we’d go from there. And in August of 2012, we did. And they were great. But it turns out the “see where we go from there” part was actually the most difficult of the entire experience, far tougher than the pitching or the writing or the shooting. It was six long and agonizing months of waiting before I finally got the call that my passion project is going forward this fall.

Now that I’ve come out the other side, I want to help my comedian peers who might find themselves in the same position. If this post were a pamphlet in a comedian/actor’s doctor’s office, it would be called “So You’re Waiting to Hear About Your Pilot,” or “What to Expect When You’re Expecting (Childless Showbiz Jerks Edition).”

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