Can you be funny, sexy, and spiritual all at the same time?
Comedy Sex God
by Pete Holmes 2019
Four of five stars ****
" Whenever I make a blasphemous joke, I always say that I believe in a God big enough to know that I'm just kidding. How can God not know that I'm kidding? And also, how could God be offended at a thing that he made not believing in him? " Pete Holmes
I have special reverence for comedians because it's their job to poke holes in our world and help us see its absurdities and laugh at them. Pete Holmes has made a name for himself as a religious, clean comedian who is unafraid to look at his past as a evangelical christian and how his beliefs changed after being divorced, working in comedy, and hanging out with Ram Dass.
I first came to know of Pete from his HBO series, Crashing, about a struggling comic whose wife cheats on him, leaving him alone and having to crash on the couches of other comedians. Now I realize that this show was in a lot of ways autobiographical and taken from Pete's real life. Unlike other comedians, Pete doesn't rely on cussing and filthy jokes for laughs, looking for more metaphysical angles instead.
This book was a pleasant surprise, as its title, Comedy Sex God led me to believe it was a tongue in cheek description of himself. In reality these three words describe the book itself- comedy, a bit of sex, and a lot of talk about God. Comedians tend to not take themselves too seriously, and this is a breezy stroll through Pete's life and how he engaged the three topics at hand.
I felt for the author when he described his struggles with his evangelical Christian past. It left him with serious sexual hangups and a rigid theological structure that he couldn't quite reconcile with the world as it is. Having his wife cheat on him and leave him caused him to doubt his entire belief system as he'd done everything the right way his entire life. He left the church after they started using 9/11 to scare people into believing them, and turned to atheism for a while.
The second half of the book is all about his journey from that point- finding new homes for his comedy, new women to have sex with, and most importantly, a new belief system to satisfy his struggling soul. Holmes mentions three people that made the most impact- author Joseph Campbell, podcaster Duncan Trussell, and spiritual leader Ram Dass. These sources alone are helpful and worth checking out, and the author goes into great detail of how each helped him find his way.
One of my bigger struggles is with how to shut up my mind so that I can get in touch with more important things, (God, higher consciousness, my true self, whatever you want to call it.) Fore some meditation accomplishes this, for others like me moving meditation keeps my mind busy enough to distract it. In any case, I appreciated how this book goes into such depth about the process and content of seeking wisdom and enlightenment. Not exactly what I was expecting from a comedian, and much more beneficial than the other spiritual book I read recently, Gabby Bernstein's Super Attractors.
There's not a lot of comedy here, but if you watch some of Pete's standup routines you can see where he's coming from. His adventures with sex are honest and relatable. The God stuff is where he spends most of his time, and it's worth the read.