Comedian Pete Davidson performed for a packed crowd as A&O Productions’ winter speaker Saturday night. The Saturday Night Live cast member delivered a series of crude jokes as he recounted stories from his past.
A&O Productions, a student organization that regularly brings celebrity performers to campus, looked for a speaker that was relevant and would draw a large crowd.
“[Our Speakers Committee] saw he would be able to bring different crowds of campus together, from the comedy and Radio, Television and Film folks, to the people who only knew him because he was dating Ariana Grande,” said Medill senior and A&O co-chair Isabella Soto.
Davidson has recently been under fire due to statements he made regarding former fiancée Ariana Grande. Since Davidson was booked prior to the couple’s split, this had no bearing on A&O’s choice of speaker.
“Even though we don’t necessarily support some of the things that he’s said and jokes that he’s made, he’s a comedian and he faces a different sort of criticism than people that might say that as a public comment,” Soto said. “In terms of cancelling or pulling out, that didn’t ever really ever become an option, but we’re well aware of the things that he’s said.”
Audience members began to flood into the auditorium shortly after 7 p.m. The show itself began over an hour later.
Actor and comedian Jordan Rock performed the opening set. The younger brother of comedian Chris Rock, Rock compared himself to singer Solange (sister of Beyoncé) as he joked about white people, movies and WorldStarHipHop.
Following Rock’s set, Davidson took the stage. He immediately introduced the audience to his trademark dark sense of humor.
“I say very weird things because it’s funny,” Davidson said early in his performance.
Topics covered in Davidson’s set included mental disability, R. Kelly and social media. Davidson never shied away from making offensive jokes throughout the night, often explicitly referencing sex and drugs.
After his stand-up set, Davidson held a Q&A session with the audience. Davidson answered questions about his SNL experience, fan interactions and even his thoughts on Canada Goose jackets (although he was not familiar with the controversy the brand has drawn on Northwestern’s campus). He also did an impression of his friend and fellow comedian John Mulaney, whose voice he compared to a “Newsie in the 40s.”
“I didn’t expect a Q&A moment,” said Medill freshman Cynthia Jaimes. “I didn’t expect a comedian as big as him to want to actually interact with the fans, and he was very nice about it.”
Throughout both his set and the Q&A session, Davidson never explicitly referenced his relationship with Grande, although he did refer to his “really rich girlfriend at the time” when asked about how he got his shoes.
Davidson’s performance exceeded the expectations of many audience members, who praised the personal nature of his jokes.
“I had no expectations for this man,” said Medill freshman Hannah Gonzales. “He was just so genuine and honest about everything. Pete Davidson is something else entirely.”