John Mulaney/Pete Davidson tour has hits and misses

Photo courtesy of Dominick D, Wikipedia

Comedians John Mulaney and Pete Davidson came together to perform in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, producing shows that were both entertaining and hilarious. Their tour, “Sundays with Pete & John,” started on Feb. 10 and ends on March 31. On Sunday, March 26, the duo shared their jokes with a Bergen PAC audience in Englewood, NJ.

Before the headliners performed, comedian Sam Jay opened the night with some of her personal, yet humorous content. She mainly discussed her feelings toward her sexuality and what defines her role in relationships as a gay woman.

Jay explained that she finds herself wondering why her girlfriend sees her as the “man” in their relationship, but made light of the serious topic of gender roles throughout her set. While this is a common tactic used in comedy, I found that subtle commentary on certain issues can be just as effective as its counter.

Although indistinct, this bit had prompted me to think about the types of microaggressions we seem to gloss over. Incorrectly labeling those in homosexual relationships as playing the role opposite of their gender encourages the heteronormative ideology we just can’t seem to escape – and her set conveyed just that.

However, following her short yet thought-provoking performance, it became clear that some comics use their platform for the sole purpose of sharing their humor.

The first headliner, Pete Davidson, crossed the stage with an entire theater at the edge of their seats, applauding for him. Although I was not familiar with Davidson’s content prior to this performance, I found some of his jokes shocking and distasteful. 

Some of his set consisted of joking about sexual relationships with children and mental disabilities.

Although he made an effort at one point to reassure his audience that he does not engage in any sexual activity with children, his jokes were still quite disturbing. I found it unsettling that he can find humor in topics related to pedophilia and the disabled, regardless of whatever his personal stance on those topics may be outside of his comedian persona.

It seems as though the audience enjoyed his overbearingly dark humor, but there is a line in comedy, as there is in any other field of art. Davidson explicitly refuted that argument during his set, but when we respond to “jokes” that do nothing to raise a dialogue on heavyweight issues, we are facilitating that silence.

I believe people can seek comfort in objectively uncomfortable situations through comedy, but we should be strictly uncomfortable when we witness shock humor.

This approach at comedy only allows room for overtly offensive jokes, and when we encourage such humor, we are encouraging the reality that's inevitably rooted in it.

This is not to say, though, that I did not appreciate Davidson’s humor outside of those topics. His performance overall was engaging and the audience instantly fell in love with his act.

After finishing his set, he segued to introduce John Mulaney, the second and final headliner.

Mulaney’s performance was exceptional, as he shared personal stories with an ironic yet humorous tone. His anecdotes seemed to resonate with the audience, who had been roaring with laughter throughout the entirety of his set.

Mulaney also did not fail to poke fun at our president, which seems to be a trend seen from his last Netflix special, “John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City.” However, this joke was brief, as most of his content and humor revolved around his personal life, indicating a sense of humility.

This is the first time I had seen Mulaney perform live, and I found that his presence alone is somewhat comforting and inviting. Perhaps most of this derives from his ability to maintain a comfortable atmosphere for his audience.

That being said, I had thoroughly enjoyed my experience as an audience member during this show. Although Davidson stated some exceedingly inappropriate remarks, the overall performances from that night were incredible.

I highly encourage any Mulaney or Davidson fans to attend these shows while they still can – or if the duo decides to extend their tour dates – but to be wary of the content delivered by these performers beforehand.