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First Person

The host with a toast

Lexington-born comic Pete Holmes — perhaps best known as the voice of the E*Trade baby — is debuting a late-night TV show.

Jeremy Freeman/TBS

I’ve given a lot of thought as to why people from Boston might be funny. I love where I’m from so much, but I always felt a little intimidated by my hometown. I’m not a baseball fan, and I don’t know how to drive downtown. I don’t know my way around the Green Line. It was always this intimidating, outsider sort of feel. So I was like, Well, I better start being funny. I’ve got to do something.

Conan [O’Brien, a producer of the new show] likes to do humor that’s not against anybody but with people. That’s the way my stand-up is. When I get heckled or somebody’s being rowdy, I don’t lash out at them. That’s not really what I’m about. I like to think that we’re all creating comedy together and it’s not me against them. The show isn’t going to be me against the audience; it’s going to be me with the audience.

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It’s all about the host. We can write jokes, we can write sketches, but at the end of the day, it’s about having a relationship with the host. So once we get that, and once we get me out there to make the audience comfortable, I think we can do some pretty exciting things. And some silly things.

I remember growing up and thinking I was on TV when I was 8 years old and wanting something called The Pete Show. The fact that here I am, 34, on something called The Pete Holmes Show is just a preposterous one-for-one, 100 percent dream come true. I walk around in a daze most of the time, just smiling and feeling grateful. It’s unspeakable.   

— As told to David Brusie (Interview has been edited and condensed.)

SEE HIM The Pete Holmes Show premieres Monday at midnight on TBS. Holmes will perform November 30 at Boston’s Paradise Rock Club (617-562-8800, 

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