Writing Rom Coms (with Holmes)
Holmes makes being off-the-cuff funny look easy. She got her start being hilarious on Tik Tok and Twitter before starring in Paul Feig’s “Welcome to Flatch.” Now, she wants to create TV shows that provide more representation. Holmes talks to me about falling in love in an escape room, and we bond over being Midwesterners.
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Holmes, Elyse Myers
Elyse Myers 00:15
Okay, actually, can you just pretend that you’re listening to a fully complete theme song here, I got really in my head. And I tried to make it perfect. And I couldn’t. So this is going to be the theme song right here. Hello, and welcome to Funny Cuz It’s True. I’m Elyse Myers. This week I’m talking to comedian, actor and writer, Holmes. Last year, they were on voters list of comedians that you should and will know, Holmes also stars and foxes. Welcome to Flatch. I personally found them on the internet and was shocked at how similar we are. We both use comedy to talk about our mental health in our lives. And we both love to write. And we’re also both chatting to our internet audiences like we’re close friends. But Holmes and I are also super different. I love to tell uncomfortably honest stories about my life that are true. And it’s really the only way that I know how to do that online. And for Holmes, they talk about their experiences through characters that are adjacent to the real them. I think it’s just so cool that we can use the same tools in totally different ways, almost turning them into different tools. Comedy can be super healing, and it can be wildly versatile. And that’s why I love it so much. So two things that are funny because they’re true. Number one, I tried to get the T on her new book and just don’t come to me for gossip because the moment somebody just even gives the hint of like bad I don’t really want to talk about it. I felt like yeah, no, that’s dumb. I didn’t want to hear about it anyway, so that’s fine. And number two, Holmes used to work at an escape room, which I literally could not think of any worse way you could torture me. Alright, let’s get into it. The first video I ever saw of yours. You’re in the car like you always are. But it was your sister’s graduation party that you ruined. And like I went home and showed Jonas that video and I could not stop laughing and Jonas was like, it’s like you telling a story. But like, completely unhinged. It just made me laugh so hard. Because like that was like, he was like, if you really said, you know, like where your brain went in those moments? I think that would be you. And I thought that was really really funny.
Thank you so much. Well, that’s for me. I think improv saved my life literally because I feel so comfortable being a character, even if it’s like a subtle character that just is like me, but I know it’s not me.
Elyse Myers 03:06
Okay. But even with those characters, all your content is improvised. Right?
All my content is improvised. Yes. Okay.
Elyse Myers 03:12
I’m like, yeah, total opposite end of the spectrum in every way. And this, I think it’s so wild that Holmes will just like, turn her camera on and start talking and improvise her whole way through. I’m telling like, actual real life stories about my life. And I can’t do that. I have this, like deep insecurity that, like, I’m going to remember a detail of my life incorrectly. And then someone that experienced it with me is going to hear it and be like, that’s not how it happened. And then they’re gonna believe that everything I say has been a lie from here until eternity. And I’m also good, like, one time, and I need that time to be on paper. So I can replicate it over and over and over again.
We’re like, it’s weird. I don’t like you right now. It’s really not vibing.
Elyse Myers 03:56
No, we are so similar. And it’s so wild. Because I’m like, this is like, what I could do like, you’re like giving me so much hope right now. Like now you’re starring in a TV show. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Welcome to Flach. That was my second audition I’ve ever had. I was just an improviser in Chicago. I just had long form improv. And I was just posting on Twitter. And then I got this audition because Paul Fig’s assistant, so I went on my videos. I knew I was good at improv, but like I had, I had never taken acting class. Like, I didn’t go to school for this. I just really had such bad impostor syndrome. And I think that you kind of realize I’m always gonna feel sick at the top of most things, and it’s just gonna take a while to not feel sick.
Elyse Myers 04:36
I well, I was wondering what that was like, because so for people that don’t know, Welcome to Flatch is like a mockumentary style kind of show. Right? And yeah, I was wondering because you have such a great background with improv. How much of that was improv what the audition process was like for a show like this? Because it’s not like a you have to look like you’re not acting kind of a thing. What did that look like?
Yeah, so the audition process was like, we’re doing the lines that are written, you know, and then it’s like, Oh, I’ll do some takes with the lines that are written. And then I’ll try to sprinkle in different things. And definitely different actors have different amounts that they feel comfortable doing that, but I feel more comfortable in that space then with acting even. But yeah, the audition process, we all had to improvise scenes in our characters.
Elyse Myers 05:23
Was it intimidating when like, because this opportunity came out of nowhere, right? Were you were you wanting this? Or was it more just like you wanted to be stand-up comedian, performer and this kind of happened?
I know, this was actually my dream, but I just wouldn’t say that out loud. Got, um, and I think that what’s so funny, which you definitely understand is like, because what was what was your dream? Because you grew up on the internet? Like, what was your dream?
Elyse Myers 05:45
I was a web developer. I had nothing to do with this space at all.
So for me, like, yeah, I really, online actually gives me a ton of anxiety. And like, I really only added the Twitter to like, I was doing improv every night for three years at that point. And then I would do stand-up like once a month, and then I added Twitter to my plate, because people in a greenroom before a show were like, I tried to tweet once a day, and I was like, I don’t even have that app. And so then I was like, okay, I’ll try to do that. So I like got it. And then I just started making these little videos. And then so fast, I like got attention on there. And I, I got to then have agents and like a manager for the stuff that I actually cared about, which was like live performance. And I definitely didn’t ever imagine that how I would be able to get a job or get noticed for art would be through really giving so much of myself to the internet. And so you’re someone who’s so amazing at it. And so it’s like nice to meet other people who seem like grounded and cool in to do it. It gives me a lot of anxiety. But I have so much gratitude for it. Because it’s the only reason that I was seen.
Elyse Myers 06:53
For me like, I only know creating in this like vacuum by myself to my phone, and then just like releasing it into the world. And maybe it’ll be seen and maybe it won’t like I don’t know, a world in which like, I am showing up to a set and like filming something from somebody else’s vision and brain. And I’m like acting it out. Like, it’s just nice to be amazing. Well the thing is I love like the improv aspect of it, too. So that’s why I’m so drawn to like your work. I wanted to know, like, why? Because you said earlier that you were afraid to say that you wanted to act on TV or like just act in general like this, like why do you, why do you think that you were afraid to say that?
I think definitely just anxiety generalized, but I also think like, I super care about like the anti-fat bias. And I think that like our society is extremely fat phobic. And I really, really am super passionate about learning about that. I think it’s so amazing that we finally talked about how it’s an oppression. So I feel annoying, because I’m not fat, and I didn’t grow up fat, but I grew up chubby, I think that definitely had to do with it was that like, women when I grew up, which is even changed a little by now we’re so much more recognized for appearance versus their brain. And I think that I knew that what was special about me was my brain. And that wasn’t what was being taken seriously. Like, like, it really took me really being like, I think I’m funny. I’m gonna go to Chicago and do this. Because really even like, some of the comedy trips and stuff, it would just be like all girls that they wanted to fuck, you know what I mean? Like, and that’s not the girl’s fault at all. So I think that it’s just one of those things of that industry I grew up watching, which is like rom coms. And like, you know, mockumentaries all the things I loved, did not appreciate what I looked like. That’s something I actually love about Paul Feig because he’s actually one of the only people in the entire industry that I’ve met that really cares about that and actually thinks about it.
Elyse Myers 08:52
We got to take a quick break. But when we come back, Holmes and I talk about creating content in the Midwest. I’m curious because you said I think that I saw that you’re writing Are you writing rom coms right now? Or are you like in the process of writing?
Yes, my dream is to like make a bunch of rom coms that are actually have people who like look at people I love or like people I love. Romantic media has always been my favorite media, but it’s just always been like pretty bad. Of course, there’s exceptions. And I think it really, they really affect us like they stick with us so much. And I think when you show a fat person always be in the joke. If someone kisses them, then fat people think that it’s a joke to kiss them. And so I can’t wait to make romcoms we’re fat people fall in love because they are all the time and they’re really hot and cool, just like us. And I think that uh, so I’m doing that, but right now I actually am working on a show, sort of like a Broad City in Kansas City though, and it’s with my friend Caleb Heron and I’m developing it right now. I can’t say a bunch of details, but we’re working with Jackson media right now. And I’m really excited because I really, really want to make more things that are in the Midwest because I just felt like growing up, I didn’t even know that I was queer. I found out when I was like 23, even though the signs were there.
Elyse Myers 10:19
The calls coming from inside the house.
It’s so funny, I look back and I’m like, why was Amber calling me late at night from the softball team, you know, and I’m like, she named before me. It’s sort one of those things where, you know, growing up with like, queer stuff, everything you kind of had to go to New York or LA media really seemed like that. So me and Caleb are really excited to make more stuff that is just like, funny with friends and normal TV that is in the Midwest, Kansas City, where I’m at right now has like such a, it’s such a beautiful city. So it was Omaha and there’s actually such cool scenes like growing up at Omaha, I had the music scene was amazing. Like we’d always go downtown to like see the face and Jenny Lewis and like, it was like all Saddle Creek records. You know?
Elyse Myers 11:03
I do not know Omaha like you do. I need to learn all the things I’m like, there’s so much more to do here than I even knew.
Oh, my gosh, Omaha has an amazing I don’t know what it’s like now because I don’t live there. But when I grew up, like the music scene was super cool downtown because of Saddle Creek records. So like genuinely Conor Oberst all these people like came up in awe.
Elyse Myers 11:21
I think that’s so powerful. I think that I have had a lot of opportunity to see kind of where we wanted to go as a family of like to move and stuff. And every time I come back to them, like, I just want to create opportunity in the Midwest, I think that like, why are we not utilizing all of the creativity within like the entire US? Like, why is it just on the coast, you know, and so if that means we stay here and just build it out here and have people come and visit us, like, I think that’s really a powerful thing. Like to give people in the middle of the country.
It’s so powerful. And I’d think it’s like, being in a place where you’re not stressed about money is so important for creativity. Oh, yeah. That’s why I’m so glad I came up in Chicago instead of New York or LA like, because my friends there who all did amazing things, I just would talk to them. And they would be like, I do think they would take opportunities that were maybe not aligned with their creativity always, but because they needed money. And it’s like in Chicago, my rent was always like $500. And I, you know, was able to work a job and then do improv for free every single night. And I think that in Kansas City, and in Omaha, you’re able to be more creative in a way that’s true to yourself, I think sometimes because you don’t have to think about like, what will I be paid to do?
Elyse Myers 12:38
So when I was all starting this, I connected with Leslie Jones, and I asked her like, what’s one piece of advice that you would give somebody starting and she’s like, you don’t make decisions out of death, a desperate place, don’t move until you have so much money overflowing that it doesn’t even matter whether your rent increases or not, or like, when a brand deal comes in, or when an opportunity comes in that like, on paper makes, like all the sense in the world. If it’s not like, right for you, then don’t take it, you know what I mean? Because you don’t need it. And then it allows you to do what you actually love doing and want to do and are good at. And you can get that opportunity later if you need it. And it also I think builds trust with the people that love you and follow you and want to get to know you like it, it creates less barriers for people, when they know that you’re making content out of a place of like creativity and like inspiration and not just out of necessity. It you just connect with it differently.
I 1,000% agree. And I like when I found out you’re in Nebraska like I love it so much. And I think things like genuinely like how you have such a beautiful voice and how you make music, like things like that would be less likely to come out when you have that sort of pressure, you know,
Elyse Myers 13:44
oh, yeah, especially Yeah, it’s saturated and other places, too. I did want to ask, because I really want to know if there was anything from your life. Like when you look back, as you’re writing, like, is there one moment where you’re like, I would turn that into a rom com. Like did anything like that happen? Oh my god. I love the laugh. This is good.
For a while when I was improvising and that I worked at an escape room. And it’s sort of in a similar way where like, I really want to do a mockumentary that’s in an escape room and have it have a romance there because I just love I love watching characters have to be themselves and then play another character. So like the escape room, I work that we all had to be agents spies, okay, so we’d have like real life drama, but then someone would come in, I’d be like, I’m agent shark and I can’t wait to get you started.
Elyse Myers 14:31
Did you ever fall in love in an escape room or while working at an escape room?
Well, okay, this is actually good. So I fell in love with someone when I was doing improv and it was so funny because it was my first girl, my first woman like falling in love. Because like I literally did God. All we did was talk about improv like, something’s up. You know what I mean? Like, I was just like, I was like, I don’t know what’s going on, but like, this isn’t normal. But I remember we were falling in love and I was working at the escape room and she didn’t but she was an accountant. Most people who come to escape rooms are businesses. But that’s what’s so funny about it is that like, it’s all these coworkers who aren’t really friends, but they have to like connect while you’re like being paid like $14. You know what I mean? So basically, her and her business of like, accountants came in, and they were doing an escape room. But I’ve had a gig in character in Ireland and escape room that was really bad, like they would things would break all the time. And then I just like, come in and be like, big agent, agent sharks gonna handle this, you know, and I’d like this on plug something back in or whatever. And I remember that one time when her business came in, it was like, so funny, because I was like watching her, you know, we’re in a back room, like a control room, and you’re like, watching them do all the clues and stuff. And that was a really, really fun experience, because I just like we both completely obviously acted like we didn’t know each other, but I had to, like be as a full spy. And I got to like, watch her for an hour, like try to solve puzzles with her coworkers. So that was really a blast.
Elyse Myers 15:57
The idea of a bunch of business people in like corporate casual, just recruited and voluntold. To be at this like team bonding exercise. He’s like too much to think about. Because I can guarantee you that like, 50% of these people would just so much rather be in their hot and air conditioned off car, just eating their cold case idea before they have to get back to work.
Like icebreakers for people who like don’t want to connect, that’s painful, but you should go to an escape room. They’re not scary.
Elyse Myers 16:27
No, the idea. Fundamentally, the idea of an escape room is like panic attack for me. Just the name. Nope, thank you so much. I mean, I wouldn’t make it. I am not patient only because so I have just raging OCD. And I’m also dyslexic, and I have ADHD. And so it’s like everything in my brain is competing to like, suck the most. And it’s like, so I have learned to hone in on like, what’s the path of least resistance? And like, what’s the easiest way for me to do something and if I lock in on it, and I find a solution to something, and nobody else like will do that solution, I immediately just disconnect from the group. I’m a mess to hang out with.
I just want to say that I only like people who are mentally ill. So you’re in with me.
Elyse Myers 17:15
You know what we’re gonna get along great. Are you dating anyone right now?
I am kind of seeing someone right now.
Elyse Myers 17:23
Also, you don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to see what I mean. Immediate fault.
No, it’s you know what it is? I won’t talk about right now. But it’s out I’ll talk about it. Like in loose terms. I think that it’s it was a really unexpected one. But I really like I tried to date one person who wasn’t and I was like, This is the worst experience I’ve had in my entire life. I think that the pandemic like made me feel really weird about romance and sexuality and everything where like it just like made it. I’m realizing that I feel so much calmer. Even if I’m sad being single, where like when someone can have control over my emotions, even a little I feel really scared. And so I’m kind of at the very top of that right now. But I am excited. They’re very beautiful. And I’m sure if it lasts for more than what has been one month I’ll talk about it more openly, but right now it’s really new and precious, and I’m really grateful.
Elyse Myers 18:16
Okay, we have to take one more break. But when we returned I asked Holmes about the live improv show that they created a pansexual bachelor. Okay, so I know that you said during quarantine it kind of affected like how you see yourself and your sexuality. Did you think of the pansexual bachelor during quarantine? Or like how did you come up with that idea for the show?
I do think that I missed improv so much. And I was like, How do I get people to come to an improv show? So that’s why I did the pansexual bachelor. Basically what I did is like it was like a structured improv show. So like everything was improvised, but we would just have the structures and my producer Anna Weiss was amazing. And so we would like plan out what the group day in the one on one would be. But we wouldn’t plan any conversation or whatever. So then ended up like getting like these amazing improvisers more recognition in the scene, because people didn’t realize they were going to an improv show. So that show what I did was that I acted as myself. But all the contestants I asked all improvisers who I know and love to be a character so that was like a blast.
Elyse Myers 19:21
Do you think that some of your ADHD and anxiety play into your comedy like do you think that that makes you funnier? Do you think it helps?
Yes. Oh my god big time. I think both of them do because I think that my anxiety I don’t know I try to like think of ways my anxiety helps me to love her that’s like when my therapist says oh yeah, I mean like you’re when you have a therapist for long enough she basically starts like just doing the movie Inside Out so you like I’ll like leave a session I’m like we just talked about like a Pixar film. Like what is going on anymore? I think like add for sure is the only reason I can be a performer. I think my anxiety I talk about it within like stand up and stuff. But I think my ADD is what because you have like hyper focus Yeah. And so for me, like I get hyper focus when I really like something or when it’s really interesting or when I have to do something. So for me, pressure is like really incredible and amazing. And I thrive under pressure, where like when there isn’t pressure, I kind of struggle. So now that I understand about ADD, I’ve realized that like, I’ll create those situations. So like to clean my house, I’d like to invite someone over once a week, you know, so then it’s like, oh, they’re coming over.
Elyse Myers 20:22
So I have to pick up. That is fascinating. I am the complete opposite. Oh, my God. Yeah, I pressure to me is like, I create the best when I have the space. It’s like the moment I feel like I have this like deadline. Deadlines are literally my worst nightmare I get so in my head that I will, I would rather quit what I’m doing that is like I owe something to someone that’d be like, I can’t I just can’t do it. It’s so nerve racking.
It’s funny because my mom like, she’d be annoyed if she heard about. She definitely has, I think undiagnosed of a few of these similar things. And I think that she’ll always be like, I don’t know how you do all this stuff. Like I would feel sick. And I’m like, oh, that’s so silly. I feel sick every day.
Elyse Myers 21:06
No, I do feel sick.
Yeah, I’m like, Oh, you’re misunderstanding like, I absolutely feel sick before I perform every time. But I think that like once I started realizing that that is just what my body will feel like and that it will feel better later. It’s like, I think I struggle more with deadlines from other people. But if I make the deadline for myself, it makes me sit down and write or things like so like, if you really have thought out a show or a movie idea really well, that takes a really long time like of thinking and I just want to make sure and give as much time to long term projects as I do with short term validation. And that’s hard to having ADD.
Elyse Myers 21:43
I could not relate to this anymore. It’s like one of the reasons why I’ve really struggled to grow my YouTube channel. I could spend a week or a month editing a YouTube video. But with a TikTok, it takes me like 30 minutes to film in about three hours to edit. And I can post it in a day. And every time I decide to focus on a long term project, that’s definitely not going to get done in a day or maybe not even a month. And that instant, like gratification is like almost destroying my ability to create anything longer than three minutes. And so to hear Holmes talk about this and how she says she likes to dedicate as much time to short term projects as she does to long term projects. That was a game changer for me. And it was really inspiring, and also really challenging, right? Oh, yeah, the long term projects are hard to because you can’t talk about them. And also, like, they take so much energy that you feel like you should be able to create something quick after the end of the day. But you’re like, I’ve actually just spent my whole day doing this. And yeah, there’s so many feelings that go into it. So I would love to talk to you more about it, like offline to being like, help me balance this. I’m struggling.
No. And I think you can remind me of like, I have so many like videos on my phone that are just me talking and stuff that I’m like, Oh, this is really good or whatever. And in my head, I have such this fear of being myself online. So I love that you really inspire me to like remember that, like, people, you can do that as well.
Elyse Myers 23:09
Yay, we did it. Thank you so much for listening to my conversation with Holmes. I’m so excited to watch her rom com when it’s finished. Also, make sure you catch Holmes and welcome to Flatch live on Fox or stream it on Hulu. If you like funny because it’s true. Maybe rate and review us. It really helps. Okay, see you next time. Bye.
If you want more Funny Because It’s True, just subscribe to Lemonada Premium on Apple podcasts. Funny Cuz It’s True is a Lemonada Media and Powderkeg production. The show is produced by Claire Jones, Zoe Dennis and […], our associate producer is Tiffany Buoy. Rachel Neil is our senior director of new content and our VP of weekly production is Steve Nelson. Executive Producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer, Paul Feig, Laura Fisher, […] and me Elyse Myers. The show is mixed by Brian Castillo and Johnny Evans. Our theme song music was written by me and scored by Xander Singh.