In a recent interview on Live Your Truth: An Honest Conversation With Charlamagne Tha God, Pete Davidson said he’s ready to leave Saturday Night Live. He didn’t actually say this, but that is the headline that has been extrapolated from his interview, and the news we’re forced to grapple with today, on Tuesday Afternoon Live.
This (inevitable) split should come as no surprise, as Davidson is better known as a tabloid celebrity and fuckboy player than as an SNL player these days, and when that happens — when non-essential cast (it’s true, outside of Chad) starts to overshadow the show itself — it’s usually time for them to head for the exits.
But you and I have an unusual perspective on this unfolding mishegas, for we know something the general public probably doesn’t know. They know he dates a lot of famous women, but we know something else — we know that Pete Davidson is about to become a movie star. In less than a month, Judd Apatow‘s new movie The King of Staten Island will open SXSW, and from what I’ve heard, it will make Peter Michael Davidson a legit movie star. Judd Apatow has a pretty good track record in my book, so if he thinks Davidson is ready to be a “prime time player,” I’m inclined to buy stock and grab a seat on the bandwagon.
Hell, Hulu waited an entire year to release his indie comedy Big Time Adolescence, which debuted at Sundance way back in 2019. It’s going to hit the streaming service at just the right time on March 13, and will be waiting at home for fans of King of Staten Island when that film opens wide on June 19. It’s also the kind of movie that could strike a chord with young viewers, priming them for the release of Apatow’s film three months later — one written by and starring a guy whose first role in a movie was ‘Stinkfinger’ in the little-seen comedy School Dance from director Nick Cannon.
Davidson has worked with Apatow before, playing one of Bill Hader‘s patients in the director’s 2015 comedy Trainwreck. He also had roles in the Netflix movies Set It Up and The Dirt, which I don’t think is by accident. I think Netflix knows that young people, i.e. teenagers, are interested in Pete Davidson. And really, can you blame them? He’s considered one of them. When I was a kid, I worshipped people like Mike Myers, Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler. Today’s 25 year-olds probably grew up with Apatow discoveries like Seth Rogen and James Franco. But studios are making far fewer comedies these days, and when they do make them, it’s with older stars like Will Ferrell and even 40-year-old Kevin Hart. SNL‘s Myers was 28 when Wayne’s World came out, the same age as Sandler when Billy Madison hit theaters. Carrey was 32 when Ace Ventura: Pet Detective came out, and by that point, he’d already been working in movies for a decade.
The point is, today’s teens need their own comedy stars, and whether we like it or not, that’s Pete Davidson. He’s “cool” (i.e. he’s not on Twitter), he has no idea how to dress himself, and the young’uns can relate! Personally, I’m a Davidson fan myself. I like his story, I like his comedy (check out his special SMD), and on SNL, I love his apathetic stoner Chad. But besides that character, which isn’t exactly Mango, seeing as how it asks very little of him beyond the word “okay,” I think he’s entirely expendable on the show, which is far too obsessed with politics. If Davidson played a key political figure, I could see Lorne Michaels asking him to stick around for one more year, at least through the 2020 election, but he doesn’t, and more often that not, he’s used more as Weekend Update fodder for the audience to mock.
Davidson is a willing participant, of course. That’s his brand of comedy, and I think it definitely plays into some of the comments he made on this week’s episode of Live Your Truth: An Honest Conversation With Charlamagne Tha God. But we won’t know if Davidson is serious until he actually walks away, or gets fired for seeming above it all, whether that’s the media’s fault or his own. As Davidson himself said, “I’ve done as much as I can over there,” which is why I think the time is right for a jump to the big screen.
Whether Davidson leaves SNL or stays for one more season is immaterial. He’s a budding movie star either way, and the only person who can slow his ascent is himself. People respond to his story. He lost his father in 9/11, and he’s a recovering addict. Sure, he trips on his own big dick from time to time, but he keeps getting back up, and that’s the kind of story — and star — that America loves. Just look at Robert Downey Jr.!
Circling back what Davidson actually revealed in the interview, he said, “I personally think I should be done with that show because they make fun of me on it,” alluding to some of his appearances on Weekend Update. “I have a weird feeling in that building where I don’t know whose team they’re playing for really — if I’m the joke, or I’m in on the joke,” he said.
“They think I’m fucking dumb. I’m literally painted out to be this big dumb idiot,” said Davidson, adding that he has spoken to Sandler about when to leave SNL. “I have a lot of conversations with people, because it’s a hard thing to do. You don’t ever want to pull the trigger too early. Everybody’s always been like, ‘You’ll know when you know, and it’ll be all right.'”
Davidson will be all right, just like he was when he was sweating out his first three seasons on SNL, which he described as “a cutthroat fucking show. Everyone’s trying to get their shit on. Everyone wants to be the next thing.” Which is understandably frustrating when you are the next [big] thing.
Davidson went on to say that Michaels “has treated me with nothing but love, and he’s like a father figure to me,” so don’t be surprised if they end up working together again in the future, if SNL does, indeed, become part of their past. Davidson said he’s “happy to be there as long as Lorne likes me.” but ultimately, “I think everybody outgrows it.”
That may be true, but one thing that no one seems to outgrow anymore is comic book movies, and naturally, Davidson has one of those lined up, too. He’s set to appear in James Gunn‘s DC movie The Suicide Squad, and it’s about a bunch of criminals and assorted misfits who take on dangerous missions. As you might imagine, Pete Davidson fits right in with that motley crue. He’s on a mission himself — a mission to entertain us. I wish him well on his journey, both in recovery, and from SNL punchline to bonafide movie star, and may Twitter have mercy on his tattooed soul.
To watch the red band trailer for Big Time Adolescence, click here.