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How Crashing Makes the Show’s Stand-Up Acts More Authentic & Funny

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Season 2 of HBO’s Crashing adds writer, actor, and stand-up comedian Jamie Lee to the mix, and she explains how the series makes the stand-up acts more authentic and funny. Aside from being very funny, one of the series’ primary appeals is its first-hand account of comedy told through not only the lens of series star and creator Pete Holmes, but also the many guest stars who stop by as themselves and are often seen performing material.

The stand-up feels very authentic, which is partly due to the fact that well-known comedians are the ones performing, rather than a group of actors not typically known for having a second life on stage as a comedian. But there is another level of authenticity that Crashing delivers that goes beyond just a feeling; a lot of it is actually funny and is the kind of material you would expect a comedian would not only want to perform but might be somewhat protective of.

Related: How Crashing’s Zach Cherry Handles Improv on the Pete Holmes Series

Screen Rant had the opportunity to speak with Jamie Lee about the show’s depiction of stand-up and how the she worked with the writers’ room to make her character's act work. Lee is in a unique position as she not only plays up-and-coming comedian Ali, she’s also a writer on the show who can draw from her own background as a in the comedy scene. Lee says some of the material she’s performing on the show as part of Ali’s act is the result of a collaboration between her and the writers’ room, while some of it is from her act when she was starting out in stand-up. Lee said:

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“It's a little bit of both. Most of the jokes that made it into the show are my jokes. However, when we were writing, and obviously we shoot a lot of stuff that doesn't make it into the show, the writers helped me a lot in coming up with material that felt more specific to Ali's character.

I think, you know, there might be a couple of jokes -- just to cover my bases -- that I wrote with the writers. But then there's also a lot of my material -- most of it pretty old because I think we were trying to recreate that vibe of when you're trying to start standup and the jokes that I was actually doing at that time.”

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Lee also explained what kind of material the series was looking for and discussed whether or not the stand-up for Crashing was written for a television audiences or was different from the stand-up audiences might see performed live.

“I don't personally think that's a thing. We definitely wanted jokes that were on the shorter side because that's easier to edit. Sometimes if a bit has a bunch of different punchlines it can be tricky because maybe the funniest of the punchlines gets cut off in the edit just for time. So I feel like the jokes were pretty short and we cut the fat on most of them.”

But, as Lee explained, the show is able to capture the authenticity of the comedians’ acts by basically just filming their sets in front of an audience, some of whom are hearing the material for the first time. The approach is a big advantage for Crashing; one that, as Lee puts it, offers a more “organic” experience.

“I think that the biggest thing is that when you do it in front of a live audience you can't go 'Can I take that again?' and the cool thing about our show is that when we film the standup they do feel like shows. We have audiences who have never necessarily heard our standup before so we were performing like it was a real show and it felt like a real show --at least the first time we taped a set. Because I would go up and do my full set. It wasn't like you go up and then do two jokes and then we cut. That did happen in later takes but in that first take, it's just go up and do your set and we're filming it. That's great because it really did create an organic live show feel because we were actually taping a live show.”

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Next: How Crashing’s Jamie Lee Introduces an Unlikely Comedic Love Triangle

Crashing season 2 continues next Sunday with ‘Pete and Leif’ @10:30pm on HBO.

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