My new favorite friendship is that of comedians John Mulaney and Pete Davidson. On January 13, my friends and I had the distinct pleasure of seeing the second installation of the Sundays with John and Pete series at State Theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
A hot topic throughout the duration of the show was tabloids. In fact, Davidson dedicated a great deal of time to chastising the gossip columns he knew were in the audience transcribing his words, despite the lengths he went into ensuring this would not happen. Davidson allegedly spent $20,000 to lock up guests’ cell phones so that the show would not be recorded and subsequently distributed.
Before we continue on, I’d like to say that I am well aware of the irony of writing the
previous sentence and continuing with this piece. This bit would come to make sense as Davidson delves into stories about his recent break-up and all the phenomena that was to follow. In the interest of not being a gossip blog adding to the noise of these happenings, I will instead talk about my overall experience of the show and encourage you to hear these stories for yourself as the duo (hopefully) continues to tour.
When Pete Davidson pokes fun at John Mulaney for his distinct tone and cadence, he retorts by telling Davidson he is reminiscent of Rip Van Winkle — utterly fearful of technology.
This was a three-hour evening of non-stop laughter and a line-up of people who were genuinely enjoying the execution of their craft and the company of one another. Comic and SNL writer Sam Jay opened the show – greeting guests with a punchy and incisive take on how feminism is not effective if it is only palatable to white women. Following, Ricky Velez discusses his introduction into fatherhood and his crusade against the wealthy. (Have you ever thought about the purpose of monogrammed pillows?) This series of opening acts concluded with a set from SNL writer Chris Redd, whose impression of a crackhead who wobbles but will not fall will forever be imprinted in my mind.
Following, Pete Davidson and John Mulaney did about an hour of material each. Davidson’s routine was relaxed and conversational – he stood in one spot on stage talking about how he knows he is a bad hotel guest and is really sorry about it (but has no intention of changing) and dealing with his friend almost dying in his apartment. (It’s actually a funny story…). His set is reminiscent of an energetic exchange with your friend who is a natural story-teller. Davidson consciously played with the audience’s comfort level and delivered many jokes with punch lines that left listeners first in shock and then in stitches.
John Mulaney commands the audience in a special way. He so easily uses the entire stage to demand the attention of the people eagerly waiting to consume his words. And he sure does deliver — he discusses growing older and how the one moral principle he will adhere to is buying booze for underage kids, because he remembers how difficult it was for him and his two best friends (both named John) to secure product in their youth. He chronicles the struggle of being mistaken for The Flash and tells Davidson that what he needs is a no-nonsense wife who will humble him when he is acting out, just as he has.
Ultimately, the show worked wonders because of how well the pair complements one another. Mulaney brought Davidson back out on stage for an additional 20 minutes wherein the pair discussed their recent experience with psychedelics and an off-the-cuff, in-depth review of The Mule. Perhaps, however, the quintessential example of the nature of the pair’s relationship was best summarized in the act of Davidson smoking a cigarette on stage and Mulaney assuring the audience this was allowed because it was for “theatrical purposes.” What a wonderfully weird dichotomy.