Live From New York, Via RADIO, It's PETE DAVIDSON On SNL
March 31, 2015
Fate is a crazy thing.
Former record company executive Tony Monte had been telling me about a comedian he loved back in the 80's that he and his wife would see over and over again, John Mulrooney. Then, not even a week later, Tony calls to say John was performing in Staten Island at a club called The Looney Bin, and then he invited me to come.
A lot had changed from the 80's when Mulrooney was packing them in, because on this night, there were only sixteen people in the audience; and four of them were Tony and his wife, and me and Sarah Lee, who would later become mine.
The host came out and did his ten minutes to warm up the crowd, but the sixteen were frigid, and they didn't make it easy, and then he called the second comic to the stage, a sixteen year old kid named Pete Davidson.
Having a little knowledge about this thing called comedy, I know the gifted when I see them. and this kid was melting the ice in the room with every joke, unpacking "Who He Was" inside, revealing an often hilarious personal premise.
Live From New York…
And then, fast-forward four and half years later. He's the newest cast member of SNL, to which, in his debut, the tweets and critics agreed, Pete Davidson stole the show.
Fate is a crazy thing.
With Nick Cannon as my morning guy, 92-3 NOW in NYC was looking for ways to market him locally, revealing that in spite of celebrity, Nick is real, down to earth and approachable.
The winning idea became to take the gift that got it started for Nick, Stand Up Comedy, and travel through NYC, Long Island and New Jersey to different comedy clubs showcasing a mix of up and coming talent, with professionals who were guaranteed to leave the audience wanting more, all with Nick Cannon as the host.
See The Controversial Article, "Why Nick Cannon Did Radio With His Hands Tied Behind His Back."
I was tasked to reach out to the great comedy clubs and propose our idea, which landed on interested ears everywhere, from Gotham Comedy Club and beyond. Then, I was tasked with booking the show.
Being Memorable Can Come In Handy
Sarah Lee was Nick Cannon's co-host at the time, and I sought her for insight.
"Who should I book?" I asked.
And without thinking or taking a breath, she responded, "You gotta book that kid from Staten Island."
So, I found great professionals in Jessica Kirson and others, and gave stage time to Buster Satterfield, then the late night guy and AMD at 92.3 NOW (now PD at WRDW Philly), and myself, just because I could, and then took Sarah Lee's advice.
The club was sold out, beyond capacity at more than 300 in the crowd, a different setting to the last time we had seen Pete Davidson, but he got a similar result; explosive laughter, applause and in this case, a standing ovation.
In spite of many of us having a great night on stage, the true star emerged and Nick Cannon and Pete Davidson began working even more closely together. Pete was finding himself in acting gigs and the comedy got stronger as Nick began taking Pete on the road with him wherever he went.
New York Radio Almost Had Pete First
I had been looking for another piece for the Nick Cannon morning show and I knew this kid was it, but then Nick Cannon got sick, and had to quit the morning show. Everything stopped in that moment, except Pete Davidson's career.
When MTV2 went back at Nick Cannon's Wild N' Out Improv show, Pete Davidson was one of the on-going guests.
And then, the star that would shine brighter than anyone could imagine, began to outgrow the confines of what Cannon could offer, and soon MTV had Pete front and center on their show Guy Code.
Before long, he was taking up meetings with guys named Sandberg and Sandler, and appearing on shows like Fox's Brooklyn Nine Nine, and doing movies with Bill Hader and Amy Schumer.
In spite of his fast rise, when in LA, Pete would take the time to stop by the house and that's when I learned that he was allergic to our dogs and cats in the worst way. As Charli Roo, our Pomeranian, climbed all over Pete, Davidson began sneezing like a man tweezing his nose hairs.
By the time he made his stand up debut on Kimmel the next night, you could still hear the effects of the dander in his voice. But even Charli Roo, with her evil intentions, couldn't stop Pete from killin' it on Kimmel.
Just before Saturday Night Live had discovered Bill Hader, I had loaned my $3000 camera to a guy named Eric Filipkowski so he and his improv troupe, the Animals From The Future, could film pieces for the show they were performing in somebody's backyard. The show was spectacular.
Filipkowski and Hader in the back, Mel Cowan and Matt Offerman in front. Animals From The Future.
I was not surprised that Bill Hader had made it to SNL… just surprised that Filipkowski didn't get there at the same time; truly one of THE MOST talented writers and comedians I've ever had the honor to see in action. If you happened to have caught Hader on Howard Stern recently, Hader also gushes about Eric Filipkowski, so I am not alone there.
And for Filipkowski, you only have to see his rendition of the "French Model" to know his subtleties could carry many sketch comedy skits. Google it.
The Final Piece Of The Puzzle
And here's why I did a sidebar about Bill Hader. After Hader worked with Pete Davidson on the movie Trainwreck, Hader was impressed enough with the newcomer that he told SNL creator Lorne Michaels about him, and the rest…as they say…
Most great comedians find humor as a salve for pain, and for Pete Davidson, the backstory was born out of a pain that occurred on 9-11-2001, as his father was one of the firefighters who lost his life in order to save lives of others.
And if it's true that laughter is good medicine, Pete Davidson is now dishing out the salve to help others heal.
And Pete didn't arrive at this place by accident, nor did he get here on his own. If you want to meet another hero, you should meet Amy, Pete's mom.
Fate is a crazy thing.
What started as an invite from Tony Monte to see John Mulrooney in Staten Island became the catalyst to an amazing career, with a trajectory to send it into outer space for Pete Davidson.
Oh, by the way, Tony Monte wasn't wrong. Mulrooney was frickin' unbelievable, but Fate remains a crazy thing.