Comedian Pete Davidson sits down for a chat
Adam Ramos | Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Being a college student, standing on the cliff, staring at what is the “real world” can be a bit intimidating. Just attempting to be taken seriously can sometimes take a lot confidence and courage. Enter Pete Davidson, the 20 year old, 6’3”, 145 lbs. comic who is already making a big impact in the comedy sphere. The already impressive list of accomplishments includes a spot on MTV’s “Guy Code,” stand up performances on both “Jimmy Kimmel” and “Adam DeVine’s House Party,” shooting a pilot for FOX and his current gig, becoming the youngest current cast member on SNL as a featured player. Lucky for us, Davidson will be able to add preforming here at ND to his list after his show at Legends on Feb. 6. Even luckier for me, I got to speak with Davidson about his quick ascend to comedy’s biggest stage and his about upcoming show here at ND.
Being as young as he is, Davidson is in an interesting position, as he explains, “It’s a benefit and an obstacle. It’s a benefit in that I have a longer period of time to figure stuff out, but it’s also an age difference. There are some references and stuff I don’t understand, actually a lot of references I don’t understand … It hasn’t been a problem, but there’s definitely some stuff I don’t know.”
However, it seems SNL has embraced his youth, as Davidson has adopted the moniker of SNL’s “resident young person” in a recurring role on “Weekend Update.” Davidson also gets many opportunities to play younger roles, mainly teenagers. Yet despite his recent start, one of the reasons Davidson has found so much success is because of his stark confidence on stage. “It’s really weird,” Davidson said, “I have zero confidence in life and then on stage, for some reason, I feel very comfortable.”
SNL is legendary for having some of most renown names in comedy; however, as SNL continues its fortieth season, Davidson finds himself on a cast with many new faces and fewer veterans then usual in years past. Yet Davidson does not see this younger lineup as problem,
“I think it’s great because you have vets like Keenan and Bobby, even Tarrin, Jay and Vanessa. I mean they have all been there five plus years. Then you even have younger people who are also doing great like Beck and Kyle, who are both really smart and really funny. It’s a really fun cast, it’s a mix of both, and it’s a lot of fun.”
Though Davidson may be getting most of his fame through sketch humor on SNL, he is certainly not shy about his roots in standup. Starting at an age where most kids are worrying with acne and high school football, Davidson was already touring the Staten Island and New York comedy clubs by age 16. After losing his fire fighter father on Sept. 11, the young Davidson turned to stand up for therapeutic means. It was not long before Davidson starting making regular television appearances on shows like “Wild and Out,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Guy Code.”
Preforming at colleges can be a bit of a challenge, as Davidson explained to me. “Performing for a younger audience is usually weird … there’s also that thing like, ‘You’re my age, why are we listening to you,’ like ‘I am older than you and about to graduate college and you didn’t even go to college, why am I listening to you tell dick jokes?’” Though with the strong support Notre Dame will bring, Davidson should have no problem finding his comfort zone on legends stage on Friday.
Adam: Hey Pete, I know it’s a little late but I wanted to congratulate you on being the first SNL cast member born in the 90s. As a nineties child myself, how is it representing us?
Pete: It’s been a lot of fun. It’s horrifying but a lot of fun.
A: Yeah, I would imagine. What’s it like working alongside such experienced comics being as young as you are?
P: It’s a learning thing, a learning experience. Those dudes are the best at what they do. As a standup going into that, it’s just learning a lot. They are all the best at what they do, the smartest writers, the most experienced improv. It’s great to learn from the best of the best.
A: Is the element of fun still there in all of it?
P: Oh it’s always fun. I mean it’s nerve-racking but still a lot of fun, I definitely enjoy it.
A: And what about the pace, I know a lot of young comics take time getting used to the fast pace of SNL.
P: I am still learning that, I am better with that now. I didn’t realize how crazy it is. When people are running around all day. The work hours are crazy, and I am still getting used to it now.
A: Being the youngest cast member, is there stuff you will reference and the older cast member won’t catch it?
P: Yea, that happens too. Like nobody knew who Bobby Shmurda was, just stupid stuff like that.
A: That’s funny.
P: Yeah, I know, but for the most part they are all pretty up to date on things.
A: Now when you do shows at colleges, do you find that you like performing for a younger audience better, or do you like the broader audience you get with SNL?
P: I mean I started doing standup when I was like 16, so standup is my favorite, you can do whatever you want, you can curse. It’s fun, there’s not a lot of stress when you do standup. Performing for a younger audience is usually weird. Colleges are either great or they’re not; it’s very hard to explain. Most of the time they suck.
A: I can assure Notre Dame will try it’s hardest to not suck.
P: Hahaha I’m kidding, but it is weird. Performing for kids your age is weird.
A: Now what advice would you give to a comic like yourself, experiencing these things, trying to make it in a field that sees more older people
P: Well, if you want to become a comic just get on stage as much as you possibly can. That’s the only advice I really have. The more stage time you get the better you’re gonna get. You know, nobody is good the first time they start. You know I still suck.
A: No, you’re great Pete!
P: No, but I mean it takes awhile to get really great. Like if you look at great comics like Bill Burr or Louie CK, they are all 25 years in. So my advice is like don’t get discouraged if things don’t go well the first couple times.
A: And I have to say that for a comic with your young age, I have always recognized your confidence, both in standup, like when you did Kimmel, and in SNL, which is something you don’t see in most young comics. Is this something you have accumulated through your experience or have you always had that confidence on stage.
P: It’s really weird; I have zero confidence in life and then on stage, for some reason, I feel very comfortable. It a really odd thing. I mean, I wasn’t that comfortable on stage when I first started, but I have always been okay with the whole getting on stage thing, and I have no idea why. But in literally every other aspect of life, I am the most awkward person in the world.
A: Well, I guess you found your element then.
P: Yeah, I mean I guess everybody finds their thing, but still it’s a weird thing. Like I am very awkward in conversation, then I can just talk about my dick for an hour, it’s just the weirdest thing in the world.
A: Now this past year you have done so many different projects, what has been the most fun and what are you most proud of?
P: SNL has to be the thing that is the most fun and the thing I am most proud of because it is all very legendary to host the show and it’s just cool to be a part of it. That’s probably what I am most proud of, just because my mom watches it. You know what I mean? Like older people watch it, it’s not just kids our age that watch it. It’s nice when like some old dude is getting his cup of coffee, and they’re like, “Hey Pete, great show!” That’s awesome.
A: I think that’s the best part of SNL — there is something for everyone.
P: It’s nice to do a show that older and more mature people watch, rather than just kids our age that most of the time are kinda dicks, from what I experience.
A: I can see that.
P: Most kids are like “Oh f*** that s***.” I don’t know, but in New York, every kid I grew up with was kinda like that.
A: Yea I’m from northern New Jersey, so I kind of know what you mean. And that’s I all I got, thanks from speaking with me, and I look forward to seeing your show!
P: Thank you man!