For some time after the launch Conan O'Brien's TBS talk show, Conan, the search was on for a show to follow - or at least talk started among fans. After all, Conan already had a follow-up in the form of Lopez Tonight with comedian and actor George Lopez serving as host.
But Lopez was unceremoniously cancelled by the network less than a year after Conan began. It was assumed that some other talk show might take its place. But time passed - and nothing appeared. Perhaps, some thought, the network just hadn't found the right host to follow O'Brien.
Then came Pete Holmes.
In February 2013, it was announced that little known comedian and writer Pete Holmes would debut a new late night talk show on TBS following Conan. And almost immediately, folks (and by folks, I mean my friends and co-workers) started wondering who Pete Holmes was.
Turns out, Holmes' story is a lot like O'Brien's.
Holmes was born in March 1979 and grew up in Lexington, Mass. O'Brien is also a Massachusetts native. So there's that. And then there's the background in comedy writing and stand-up.
New York to L.A.
Holmes got his first taste of the comedy life at Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., where he participated in an improvisational comedy group. He turned that improve act into a stand-up act and started sharing jokes on stage in New York.
His stand-up act and writing skills landed him a number of gigs on television, especially at Comedy Central, where he made regular appearances on Premium Blend and John Oliver's New York Stand Up Show, both programs featuring a variety of stand-up acts. Success on those shows helped him land his first Comedy Central Presents special.
Holmes was also a regular panelist on VH1's Best Week Ever and an accomplished voiceover actor. He voiced many of the characters on Comedy Central's Ugly Americans. He is probably best known for his work as the "e*trade baby" - a talking baby that appears in the financial services' company's television commercials - spots he also helped write.
Talk show fans may have caught Holmes' guest appearances on Conan and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Behind the scenes - and behind the mic
Holmes is also known for his writing skills. He's credited for several episodes of Outsourced, an NBC sit-com cancelled in 2011, and I Hate My Teenage Daughter, a Fox sit-come cancelled in 2012.
He is also the host of a popular podcast titled You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes on the Nerdist network. Once a show with a specific niche - three weird things about the show's featured guest - the podcast has evolved into a more of a general topic program, though the topics can get deep and philosophical amongst the goofiness. The usually weekly show is recorded in Los Angeles. It has featured familiar names in comedy like Judd Apatow, Aziz Ansari, Jim Gaffigan, Mike Birbiglia and many more. He's even taken the podcast on the road for live shows.
Podcast to broadcast
Holmes was discovered by O'Brien and pursued as a possible talk show host for a program that would follow Conan. To test whether Holmes could make the transition from podcast to broadcast, O'Brien and his production company, Conaco, ordered three episodes of the show, titled The Midnight Show with Pete Holmes. The shows were never aired, but they featured real guests, including Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation) and Joel McHale (Jeff Winger on Community).
It was enough, though. The show was picked up by TBS and will debut in the fall of 2013. Here's the catch though - and where Holmes and O'Brien's stories really read similarly. Holmes will only get a four-show contract out of the gate. How the show performs in the first month will determine if Holmes' show continues.
Much like an untested comedian and comedy writer named Conan O'Brien, who took on Late Night as an unknown and went from week to week with a new contract from NBC. Until he proved he had that secret formula that makes a good talk show host great.