Pete Davidson’s audience was rowdy, even if he was not


Yelling Ariana Grande’s name out during her ex-fiancé’s comedy show is, according to Pete Davidson, “little penis energy.” The audience at Davidson’s performance Wednesday night only yelled about Grande once, but they didn’t only yell once. 

With some unprompted audience interaction to complicate things, the Staten Island-native, actor and comedian struggled to find the appropriate line to walk between what University of Connecticut students found funny and what they found offensive during his performance at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts. 

“I haven’t had so much luck at colleges as of recently,” Davidson said. 

Davidson may have been referring to his recent performance at the University of Central Florida where he was criticized for aggressively ranting at students who were using cell phones to record the show.

Perhaps because of this, Jorgensen was papered with signs asking attendees not to use cell phones for texting, calling, social media or recording before or during the performance.  

As Davidson explained, comedians aren’t like musicians who can play the same music over and over and still be entertaining. When he’s testing out new material for an upcoming special, as he was both at UCF and last night at UConn, he doesn’t want it getting all over the web before he can release it on his own. 

Students like fifth-semester anthropology major Spencer Buckley and fifth-semester animal science and pathobiology double majors Meagan Goodridge and Alex Bingham also connected recent criticism of Davidson’s work to his “careful” performance last night, which they found much less controversial than some of his content on Saturday Night Live. 

Besides his recent college controversy, Davidson has gotten heat for comparing R. Kelly to the Catholic Church — which he brought up again during his show at UConn — and for mocking Texas politician and veteran Dan Crenshaw for his eye patch (he later apologized to Crenshaw). 

“I think he was being overly careful,” Buckley said. “He was very PC.” 

In case you thought I thought I was killing it up here, I don’t – Pete Davidson

After explicitly explaining how a joke he made about men being on UConn’s women’s basketball team wasn’t intended to be offensive, Davidson acknowledged his own caution. 

“Unfortunately, every joke has to come with a disclaimer,” Davidson said. 

This combination of Davidson’s new material, mixed with recent controversies and his unwillingness to upset the “PC” college audience made his performance less impressive to some audience members, and even Davidson himself. 

“In case you thought I thought I was killing it up here, I don’t,” Davidson said. 

Much of his content was more anecdotal, as he discussed the projects he’s working on and how he will soon be getting time off for the first time in 10 years. 

“I think there were highs and lows,” first-semester marketing major Alim Rodican said. “Sometimes I couldn’t stop laughing, sometimes it got a bit dimmer.” 

Davidson’s performance was also interrupted several times by audience members yelling to him. 

At one point a voice from the back yelled “Motley Crew,” prompting Davidson to respond: “I haven’t been yelled at at a concert in 30 years.” 

Another audience member yelled to ask Davidson why he was so tired, and later in the show an audience member yelled “Ariana Grande.” This was the only time Grande came up during the performance, and the outcry received boos from the crowd. 

“I was expecting him to go into Ariana Grande material,” fifth-semester psychology major Matt Balaoing said, explaining he thought of Davidson as a “B-list celebrity” because of his previous relationship with Grande. Balaoing also claimed it was his brother who yelled Grande’s name. 

At this time, Davidson took a moment to really address the call-outs, referring to the last one as “little penis energy” and giving the audience 30 seconds to yell out anything else they needed to say. 

“Hopefully we can all be adults and move on,” Davidson said after this. “As you can tell, I’ve been taking an anger management course.” 

At the end of the show, Davidson did give the audience a chance to ask questions, which were more mellow than the comments yelled throughout the show, and appreciated by students. Many asked about his outfit: His car-patterned pajama-looking pants were from Urban Outfitters, his Raw sweatshirt he got because he smoked a lot of weed and, no, he wouldn’t be giving the sweatshirt to the girl in the audience who requested it. 

“He answered my question, which made me very happy,” Rodican said. “I communicated with him.” 

Although the performance had some ups and downs, Davidson did attempt to make some of his jokes tailored to UConn. He picked up on the large screen announcing SUBOG, and proceeded to make that his battle cry for the night, ultimately ending his show with a loud “SUBOG.” 

“That’s the most unattractive name I’ve ever heard,” Davidson said of the organization. “That sounds like a fat Russian girl … it backwards would be cool: Gobus.” 

Despite Davidson dragging their title, the performance was still a landmark for SUBOG. Third-semester English major and SUBOG Comedy Chair Catherine Casey announced before the openers took the stage that even though it was the organization’s first paid comedy show, it sold out. 

The show also featured comedians Ricky Valez and Derek Gaines.  

Gaines acted as host, performing first with a number of jokes about how he both fit and broke black stereotypes, claiming he was a “cul-de-sac black,” so he could dance better than all his white Jewish friends, but he could also swim. He then introduced Valez, who told stories about buying drugs in the ocean on the coast of the Dominican Republic and his plan to smear poop on himself to survive prison. 

Although all three comedians received some criticism, they all received some praise from audience members, like first-semester marketing major Kalli Taylor, who said she enjoyed having three comedians, and that they all did “very well.”  

According to Rodican, the night was, at least, “worth the price.” 

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Alex Houdeshell is the managing editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at

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