Tom Daley
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How Welcome to Flatch's Queer Star Holmes Fights Sadness With Humor 

Holmes

“I always knew that I was a comedian and an artist,” says Holmes, star of Fox’s new mockumentary Welcome to Flatch. “But I thought that I would just be doing other jobs to be able to do that because my favorite comedy is improv, and that’s not something that is [usually] paid.” Holmes has appeared in some shorts and TV series but says it wasn’t until they were hired to star in Welcome to Flatch that they were able to call performing a career.

Based on the British mockumentary sitcom This Country, Welcome to Flatch follows a documentary crew that goes to the fictional town of Flatch, Ohio, to film cousins Kelly Mallet (Holmes) and Lloyd “Shrub” Mallet (Sam Straley) as they move through their eccentric lives.

Holmes, who is queer and uses she/they pronouns, became involved with the show in 2020 after having moved to Chicago to pursue improv. At the time, they were spending their days working odd jobs at the gym, the butcher shop, and an escape room, and were doing stand-up and improv in the evenings. “When I was younger, I broke it to myself that you’re going to still create art and your job doesn’t have to be your passion,” says Holmes.

During that period in her life, Holmes took the advice of one of her exes and downloaded Twitter. Soon after, Holmes started posting improvised videos of characters or situations that she found funny, and in January 2020, it caught the attention of Paul Feig (A Simple Favor), executive producer of Welcome to Flatch.

Holmes

“The internet amplifies what you’re able to do career-wise so much. It’s crazy because I do think that the internet is really bad in a lot of ways, but it can also be really good, just like most people,” Holmes jokes.

“It really did get me the audition, and I had to work through that in my head. [I felt like] my only worth was the stuff I do online, but then I had to really realize that all of the work I did onstage for like 10 people in the audience led me to get the part,” they say.

Holmes shot one day of the pilot in March 2020 before the show was shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic. “I thought best-case scenario, we would be able to film the pilot someday,” shares Holmes. But then seven months later, Holmes learned the show intended to use that single day of footage and she would be moving to North Carolina to film the rest of the show.

“It was really a whirlwind. I’m so grateful because it made me realize I can have a career in this,” says Holmes. “And it allowed me to be able to focus on other side projects that I’m really passionate about too.”

Regarding those side projects, Holmes couldn’t share much but did tease that they have been writing on a show with their friend and writing partner Caleb Hearon that involves “very funny gay things.” This spring, she is also hosting The Pansexual Bachelor in Los Angeles for six weeks, where 18 contestants will battle onstage to win Holmes’s heart. 

The significance of being a visible queer comedian is not lost on Holmes. “It’s so important in every space to have every type of representation,” she says. “Because the more there is representation, the more people in younger generations and in the current generation will continue to be themselves.”

Holmes loves being a comedian for a couple of reasons, one of which is getting to be taken seriously for their brain. “My brain is the only thing that I’m actually making conscious choices with,” says Holmes. “And when you do a stand-up or improv set, it’s just your brain. No one is allowed to judge anything else.”

They also really enjoy getting to laugh all of the time. “I’m a pretty sad person,” jokes Holmes. “Growing up, I wasn’t super neurotypical. I wasn’t naturally happy, but I was naturally laughing.” Holmes feels like that’s a great combination, especially for queer people who are “so good at laughing about their trauma in a way that they still know is real.”

 

This story is part of The Advocate’s 2022 Champions of Pride issue, which is out on newsstands May 17, 2022. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe — or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News.

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