Underrated/Overrated: Pete Holmes approaches a breakthrough and ‘SNL’ caves too easily
Pete Holmes: If you’re looking for a breakout success story for 2017, here’s a solid candidate. His podcast, “You Made It Weird,” serves as a goofy counterweight to Marc Maron’s conversational show “WTF,” and Holmes’ recent HBO stand-up special, “Faces and Sounds,” carried an earnestly silly enthusiasm that was tough to resist. After his talk show on TBS fizzled after two seasons, this year brings his HBO series “Crashing,” which was co-produced by Judd Apatow and stars Holmes as a struggling stand-up comic. In terms of laying the groundwork for comedy stardom, Holmes is basically hitting for the cycle.
Mike Watt’s “Ring Spiel Tour ’95”: Lost among last year’s archive releases, this live album by San Pedro’s Mike Watt revisits one of the most endearingly odd musical pairings of the ’90s. A meeting of the “econo”-driven co-founder of the Minutemen with a reverent but far more famous backing band that included Eddie Vedder and Dave Grohl, Watt’s eccentric album “Ball-Hog or Tugboat” and subsequent tour raised the profile of the bass-thumping punk rock elder. Even after this many years, the energetic set list — full of taut, fuzzed-out tracks as well as a future Pearl Jam song — remains timeless.
The artist revolution at Tidal: Launched in 2015 with the sort of fanfare to rival a Super Bowl halftime show, Jay Z’s streaming service was the artist-friendly alternative to those profit-hungry monsters at Spotify and elsewhere. Now comes the news that Tidal has sold a third of its stake to cellphone also-ran Sprint, which means all the glitzy creativity of Rihanna and Deadmaus can now be yours with roaming charges. While it’s sort of fun to watch the star-studded Tidal sink in the ever-uncertain streaming business, artist royalties still aren’t coming through any clearer. Can you hear them now?
The easily cowed “Saturday Night Live”: The sketch comedy warhorse lost its stomach for offending viewers long ago, so it wasn’t surprising when the show “indefinitely suspended” one of its writers, Katie Rich, after she tweeted a poorly considered joke about one of the sons of President (and one-time “SNL” host) Donald Trump. But if Lorne Michaels’ cast of comedy explorers now face the ax when an offensive line lands awkwardly in the raw open-mike workshop of their own Twitter feed (even after an apology owning up to her mistake), we probably have the answer as to why the show so rarely ventures outside familiar formulas these days.
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