“What other good news do you have for me, is my dad coming back?”
20-year-old Pete Davidson – the youngest SNL cast member in almost two decades – is quickly making a name for himself at Studio 8H.
Sure, his goofy delivery and sing-song voice kind of reminds you of Adam Sandler, and his constant smirking looks like Jimmy Fallon. But the main reason Pete has quickly become a fan favorite (other than the fact that he’s probably the most likable of the current SNL cast) is because he is already a wise-beyond-his-years pro.
Exhibit A: that lead quote up there was from Pete’s Weekend Update appearance last weekend. For what seemed like a pretty innocent throwaway joke, it was met with a smattering of laughs and gasps.
That’s because Pete’s dad, Scott Davidson, was a member of Brooklyn Heights’ Ladder 118 of the New York City Fire Department, last seen ascending the stairs toward the Marriott World Trade Center Hotel on 9/11.
The boldness of such a simple joke from a kid who lost his dad in such a horrible way is really something to be admired. A lesser performer probably would have shied away from such a joke, but that’s how Pete Davidson has already set himself apart at such a young age.
He has the timing and sensibilities of an old pro. And in order to succeed in comedy – you have to be fearless, even if that means putting your most vulnerable personal experience on the table.
This also showed in how he handled Chris Rock’s opening monologue from the aforementioned episode. Rock put out a few very strangely chosen bits, ranging from gun control to the Boston Marathon bombings to finally, how he wouldn’t ever go up in the new World Trade Center.
Of course, Chris Rock is a comedian and he is trying to find that dark spot of humor. But the idea of making that type of joke with Pete there just seemed to have a crappy, foot-in-your-mouth taste.
Matters are even worse when you consider that the bond 9/11 and Saturday Night Live share is a very intimate one. SNL’s return was one of the first “return to normal” moments in the weeks after the deadly terrorist attacks. So the fact that Rock’s monologue featured a tasteless joke about it seemed out of place.
On top of that, Pete’s story (and mere presence) just seemed to add another element to an already odd and tactless introduction from Chris Rock.
Not to mention, the bit (and the whole show in general) just wasn’t very funny.
As it seems, Pete could care less about this debacle. And if he was bothered by Chris Rock’s monologue, he certainly didn’t show it.
Last Saturday, Pete just went about his business and put together yet another solid Weekend Update with a more subtle joke – something Chris Rock couldn’t find the entire show.
Pete hasn’t used his story to get him through any doors. Because since his first appearance on this season’s premiere, he hasn’t needed to. He proved that he’s good enough to make his own story.
Specifically the story that started with Pete Davidson, a 20-year-old comedian, playing Pete Davidson, a 20-year-old businessman.
In the studio or on the internet, reaction to Pete’s coming out party was huge. There hasn’t been a buzz around a new cast member in a very long time, and with the show struggling creatively – he could be the newest star that they so desperately need.
Of course, things haven’t been perfect for Davidson so far either…but hardly by fault of his own. SNL has a tendency to run funny bits into the ground by overusing them. After his first appearance went viral, Pete has appeared on four out of the five episodes of Update this season with mixed results.
SNL is an inexact science, but Pete Davidson’s charisma gives him the ability to become the show’s next big thing. Because whether he’s riffing about going down on guys for boat fuel or brushing off a tone-deaf joke from a comedy icon, Pete Davidson is already a pro.
(Featured photo courtesy of SNL)