Pete Davidson has frequently been unimpressive, but people come to him anyway. I was disappointed by his first album, SMD, and found it to be jokes on mostly boring topics. I think his work on SNL is mostly bad– I don’t like Chad. His newest special “Alive from New York” is now on Netflix. He’s been traveling around with John Mulaney, who has seemingly given him some direction, but mostly he falls flat once more.
Davidson moves the stand a lot. He seems jittery. His movements are stiff, with sudden, seemingly random bursts of energy that he seems embarrassed by and wants to take away. The lighting of the special is sometimes distracting. There are a lot of lines. I really like the rug. It adds a sense of personality and heighted niceness.
Davidson has so much charm. He has that deep voice, and strange mix of confidence and self depiction that makes his energy endearing. But he can be very aggressive with crowds. There are endless stories of him going off on an audience member. There was a whole thing with him and having people put their phones in the bag, and signing contractors with audience to write about his jokes online, is another example. But people are attracted to him. He’s like Shane on the L word. I’m a lesbian, I’m sure straight women have a better example. He’s not elegant, he’s not wealthy, but genuinely always the coolest guy in the room. Hoenstly he is so endearing when he just smiles at his own, stupid joke. It’s just too bad that he doesn’t have the jokes to back that up with. Eddie Murphy on Delirious presented us with a man such charm to make him the also always the coolest in the room, but Murphy had the jokes. Murphy was funny, and good at stand up. Davidson lets us down by delivering all the hashed out jokes we’ve heard time and time again.
“I look like a divorced wife who just got it together” he mocks himself in an early joke. The architecture of a joke we’ve all heard so many times before. Then he goes on to tell a joke about how he thinks that in every gay group of dudes, there is one not-really-gay-guy. An idea I’ve heard everywhere. A joke you might hear at every open mic twenty years ago. “All power to ya, but it’s a lot of power” He says about gay men’s power in the current political climate. Sure, all the power. This joke is just so over told, that even his personal flourishes can’t bring it new life.
One of his next jokes is about making a joke about Dan Crenshaw. I did not catch this controversy, but it doesn’t matter as Davidson goes over it. I hate these kinds of jokes that are retelling of unfunny, and seemingly serious stories. Famous people bringing up what they have to address to get people to like them, and then not adding any depth. Then there are jokes about Ariana Grande. God I don’t care. They’re not great jokes. They’re petty, and they don’t tell the story. They just play off the story that we know from the internet.
But some of the special works. He has a joke about pausing the netflix special and getting laid. Here the cinematography really works for the joke, framing in the bottom left corner, his smile lights up the entire frame. His entire joke about Louis CK is great. He discusses how Louie CK didn’t like that Davidson smoked weed at SNL. It sets him up as likable and charming. But he never gives us anything of substance, and he doesn’t even try to. It’s frustrating to watch, because Davidson has so much potential, and does bring some much to stage. He’s so present and in the moment, and he does seem like such fun to be around if he’s into you. I want to see him take his writing seriously.