Pete Holmes became a successful and respected comedian by working mostly clean, bearing his soul by sharing the struggles he faced with his faith as well as his relatably awkward life experiences.
The HBO series "Crashing" became yet another confessional outlet for Holmes, mirroring his early days in standup. The show features cameos and guest spots by some of the biggest names in comedy. And on Sunday night, HBO will air the last episode of the show's third and final season.
Holmes and executive producer Judd Apatow sat down with CBS News contributor Jamie Wax to discuss how profound comedy can get.
"The more normal and put together – the more that way I seem, the more eager I am to share my flaws, and insecurities, and that stuff. I think that's real power," Holmes said.
Harnessing that power has been a lifelong journey for Holmes, who grew up as a devout Christian -- an experience he writes about in his new book, "Comedy Sex God." In the preface of the book, he writes about how his mom always wanted him to be a youth pastor but he became a comedian – and that was the next best thing, more or less.
"My mom certainly believed that I could do anything," he said. "I started doing standup, and a lot of like sketch stuff in church and at my Christian college."
It was while he was finding his footing in New York that Holmes suffered the biggest blow to his faith. He discovered his wife was having an affair, which led to the end of his marriage.
"I thought when my wife left me that God didn't hold up his end of the bargain. Like God was the mafia and I was paying protection money and yet someone still broke my bakery window. You know, you didn't uphold your end of the bargain," Holmes said. "I had an understanding of God that didn't allow for those things, and as I progressed through the book, I'm sharing how I reconciled that and found a new one."
The more Holmes shared about his personal vulnerabilities through his comedy, the more his career seemed to take off, eventually landing him a short-lived late night talk show following "Conan." It was during this time that he introduced the concept that would become "Crashing" to A-list producer and director Judd Apatow.
"We were improvising. I just said, 'But seriously, Pete, what's your real idea? Come on. What else you got?'" Apatow recalled. "Then he basically pitched me 'Crashing,' but in the sketch I said, 'That's not a good idea, that's too sad. You're life is really sad.''"
Shortly after the talk show was canceled, Holmes met with Apatow again, this time to pitch a new series based on his life for real.
"The first season I would say a large percentage of it happened," Holmes said. "And the second season maybe that got cut by 15 percent and then the third, then it got cut again by 15 percent. But what happens is it's still true, it's just based on something that happened to Judd. Or it's something that happened to one of the writers in the room or a couple of the writers in the room."
"I was really fascinated with his interest in comedy, and I think he loves comedy as much as I do and I'm out of my mind," Apatow said. "But also his interest in spirituality, and I felt like there's very little discussion of religion and all of our spiritual quests on television. There seemed to be something about the combination that felt very unique. And to do it through someone who's hilarious is the best way to explore it."
According to Holmes, a "fall from grace" isn't the worst thing that could happen to a person.
"I used to think it was the worst thing that could happen to you, was losing your faith, and now I think that's like the most essential. You need to be wounded. You need to lose something. You need to lose your life to find it. That's basically the idea," Holmes said.
The life Holmes has found for himself now includes a happy marriage since 2017 to wife Valerie, and a five-month-old daughter. But what does that mean for a guy whose career has seemed to thrive on personal crises?
"That's not a concern for me. I find there to be a lot of wonder, of course, pain and loss and suffering, even if they're subtle, are realities, constant struggles. I mean in the movie, this is the moment where it would fade out and it's over. But it's not over. It continues on. Who knows what the next moment is going to hold."