Cast members of NBC’s long-running “Saturday Night Live” performed at Ramapo College last Saturday, as show alumna Nasim Pedrad and current repertory player Pete Davidson headlined the College Programming Board’s annual spring show in the Bradley Center gymnasium. New York-based standup comedians Bob Levy, Anna Drezen and Joey Gay also appeared onstage, warming up the audience with brief, 15-minute sets before ceding the spotlight to the night’s advertised performers.
“As soon as I heard who was performing I immediately went to my roommates, who also watch ‘SNL,’ and told them we had to go,” said junior Holly Goldfarb, a fan of both Pedrad and Davidson who was surprised by the CPB’s decision to host a stand-up comedy night stating, “We usually have a musician perform at the spring show.”
The night began at 8 p.m. as Jacob Fishman, a CPB chairman, introduced Levy to the crowd. The reception to the 54-year-old comedian’s opening act was mixed: many students said Levy’s humor failed to connect with his young audience.
“I got the feeling he’s used to performing for older audiences,” said junior Sara Catherine Lichon. “A lot of his jokes in the beginning had to do with marriage.”
“I really did not like the first guy,” Goldfarb agreed.
Others felt differently: “All the comedians had me laughing out loud,” said Sean Reis, a College of New Jersey junior who attended the show.
Before he bid goodbye, Levy introduced Drezen to the stage. An author and writer for “SNL,” and she spoke on her life as a single woman in New York, pretending to log onto dating websites and discussing “female friendly pornography.” Drezen’s act also proved polarizing: Goldfarb described the comedian as “a pretty good opener,” while junior Mohamed Eldib claimed, “she wasn’t funny at all and I felt her comedy was too forced.”
Pedrad soon followed Drezen, taking the stage to widespread applause. The comedian and actor left “SNL” in 2014, after a five-year stint with the show, during which she gained popularity for her impersonations of celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Ariana Huffington. More recently, Pedrad has acted in the television shows “Scream Queens” and “New Girl.”
Pedrad’s 30-minute performance differed from traditional stand-up; in lieu of jokes, she used anecdotes and projected photographs to deliver a humorous, summarized version of her life as an Iranian immigrant and member of the entertainment industry.
“I loved Nasim Pedrad. She did a great job of connecting with the audience by relating her material to Ramapo specifically,” said junior Cassie Fenton, referring to Pedrad’s on-stage claim that she had once dated a Ramapo student.
Eldib said, “I related to her the most on a lot of her Iranian jokes, because they’re like Egyptian jokes.”
“Nasim was my favorite,” said Lichon, “her story about her dad trying to figure out Uber was the best part.”
When asked for an interview, Pedrad communicated through a staff member of the College, stating she would only consent if provided with written questions beforehand. In the interest of transparency, the Ramapo News declined her invitation.
Gay’s standup routine served as the penultimate act of the night, as the former strip club manager and current owner of Pips Comedy Club in Brooklyn prepared Ramapo for the arrival of Davidson. Eschewing the assistance of a microphone, Gay shouted for the entirety of his performance.
“Joey Gay was a nice surprise,” Reis said of the comedian, “I couldn’t stop laughing.”
“The screamer guy was hilarious,” Eldib agreed.
After Gay had left, Davidson appeared, wearing a Mariners baseball jersey and jeans. Davidson, who announced on March 6 a return to sobriety for the first time in eight years, addressed his past drug use and his stint in a California rehabilitation clinic before moving on to other topics. “Sober sucks,” he said, “but this is the happiest I’ve ever been.”
Davidson also addressed his divisive reputation on college campuses, saying, “there’s always someone” after his show who demands “the mean Pete Davidson” never return. The comic, who released his first stand-up special on Comedy Central in 2016, is known for his dark humor: in 2015, the New York Times described Davidson’s style as “shoulder-shrugging, post-trauma, post-trigger-warning comedy.”
In an interview following his performance, Davidson discussed his past college shows in greater detail: “Every college I do, there’s one article on how bad I am, and how flagrantly offensive I am,” he said. “Meanwhile, most people have fun – unless I’m hearing things – so I always like to make fun of that person before they write it.”
“At colleges, we don’t know if the crowd’s going to be incredible or they’re going to be very afraid to laugh, because maybe their friend next to them has different views and everyone’s trying to be friends,” said Davidson, explaining some stand-up comedians’ reluctance to perform at schools.
The comedian appeared to be well-received at Ramapo, his exit from the Bradley Center scored by apparently universal applause.
Fenton sees nothing wrong with Davidson’s brand of humor: “We can’t take comedy too seriously. It wasn’t meant to be offensive, just to make you laugh,” she said.
“Pete Davidson was hilarious, and probably the most relatable, due to his age,” Goldfarb said, referencing the comedian’s youth: Davidson, a college dropout, is 23 years old.
“For some reason, when you’re dorming, they don’t feel the need to get toilet paper or tissues,” Davidson said when asked why he left Brooklyn’s St. Francis College after a brief stay. “So yeah, college is gross.”
Additional reporting by Alyssa Rabinowitz and Anthony Zurita.