Pete Davidson brings 'SNL' charm to Memorial Union

If you didn’t recognize him from “Saturday Night Live” fame, it'd be easy to mistake Pete Davidson as just another college kid: he took the Fredric March Play Circle stage Thursday night in a flannel shirt, worn-out tennis shoes and with posture that would make any mother cringe.

Despite the feeling that he could’ve been enjoying a beer or fries in Der Rathskeller minutes earlier, Davidson performed like a comedy veteran. 

Maybe it’s because he’s had some practice: Davidson became one of many newcomers to join the cast of “Saturday Night Live” on its 40th season this past fall as a featured player, after performing stand-up for what he said was close to six years.  

Davidson, who said he recently turned 21, used his age to his advantage, basing most jokes around common situations college-aged kids encounter. Real-life experiences surrounding living in dorms, smoking (maybe too much) weed and navigating new relationships resonated among the predominantly student-populated audience. 

While these aren’t relations found in all of today’s popular comedians, I think it’s that relatable nature which made Davidson so interesting to watch. At times, I felt like I was in a conversation with one of my friends, which created an ease to experiencing his performance. 

There was something so endearing about Davidson’s half smile and giggle that, after detailing a time when he faked his grandfather’s death just because he didn’t want his latest fling to spend the night, you almost forgot he’s a semi-celebrity. 

He based many of his jokes off funny observations, ranging from short one-liners (“Did you ever notice how rich people actually wear pajama sets?”) to more detailed analyses (“Why did Harry Potter never get laid?”).  

Davidson demonstrated he wasn’t afraid of what some may see as touchy subjects, either. He almost shamed the crowd for the lack of diversity on campus. “It’s 8 degrees here, you have, like, 4 black people,” Davidson said.

There was a resonating genuineness to Davidson all throughout his nearly hour-long set; nothing seemed formulaic or preset. He appeared to really be enjoying himself as much as the audience was enjoying watching him, which is at times missing with stand-up comedians today. 

While a number of Davidson’s jokes were those he performed previously on either “SNL,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” or “Adam Devine’s House Party,” there was an increased maturity to their presentation. 

It was unfortunate, however, that Davidson had the opening act he did. 

Every positive attribute Davidson possessed, Craig Loydgren seemed to have the opposite. Though much older than Davidson, Loydgren lacked the calming presence one normally achieves with time and experience. 

He relied heavily on profanity, as if attempting to use it as a key to connect with the younger-than-him crowd. 

Right from the gate, Loydgren flopped with an unappealing quip about the cold weather and his testicles, then continued his downward spiral with an offensive comparison of his wife’s vagina to a three-bedroom apartment.

Profanity in comedy is a delicate thing: it works in the joke when you almost don’t even realize it’s there. If the profanity is the only thing the audience is picking up on, like with Loydgren, you’ve lost the importance of why you’re saying the joke in the first place: to make people laugh.

What I think set Davidson miles apart from Loydgren was his effortless ability to appeal to the audience; he proved Thursday it isn’t always age that correlates with experience.

At the end of his set, Davidson entertained mostly “SNL”-based questions from the audience, including who his favorite cast member is (Kenan Thompson) and who has been his favorite host so far (Woody Harrelson).  

He said working on “SNL” has been a great experience, though he claims he is the least funny person there. 

Davidson also mentioned how enjoyable it has been working with notable oddballs Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney, with whom he shares an office.  “I think everyone that’s kind of cool is weird,” Davidson said.  

Davidson told the crowd he still has a lot he needs to learn in terms of comedy, but based on the talent he demonstrated Thursday, I think Davidson is already well on his way to establishing a strong foothold in the comedy community. 

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