When Saturday Night Live break-out star Pete Davidson arrived 30 minutes late to perform his new stand-up comedy show at Lehigh on Sept. 10, no one seemed to mind. In fact, his act included an impromptu Q&A session and a selfie with a student.
After getting stuck in traffic, Davidson arrived to a packed Baker Hall of eager Lehigh students awaiting his performance. Without permission, he glided across the stage on his mini Segway board as a little preview to show everyone he had arrived before he took the stage later in the night.
Co-Directors of Comedy for University Productions, Christian Dietz, ’18, and Noah Marcus, ’18, put in a lot of work to get Davidson to Lehigh, so they were happy the audience wasn’t too put off by the delay.
Marcus said inviting Davidson was an easy choice. He said that by choosing someone from SNL, students will be more likely to see the show because it’s someone they are familiar with.
“He is as funny as can be in our opinion,” Dietz said. “Also, we are big fans of Saturday Night Live, and know that Lehigh’s population is too.”
While Davidson performed a stand-up act, he isn’t specifically a stand-up comedian.
“When you’re buying Pete Davidson, you are mostly buying him for whatever he wants to do on stage for an hour,” Marcus said.
He said even with some slight chaos backstage when Davidson asked the Zoellner staff to bring up the house lights for a Q&A, people were excited to be able to interact with the comedian himself.
“We were not expecting the Q&A session at all, which from what I heard people loved that the most,” Marcus said.
What was valued the most by the co-directors was that this show was very personal. In most shows the guest will show up, talk for an hour, and leave. This was not that type of show.
One lucky student was invited on stage after she asked Davidson to take a selfie with her.
Aminat Ologunebi, ’17, said she was surprised that no one had asked Davidson before her to jump on stage with him.
“Him opening it up for a Q&A definitely gave the audience a chance to know him on a personal level,” Ologunebi said.
Dietz said getting a big-name comedian on campus requires student coordinators to act like entertainment agents by researching who is available and within the price range, among other factors.
“Then you have to talk to the venue, and in this case it’s Zoellner, and you have to talk to them about dates, and to organize the details, and kinda communicate between the two sides, so that when Pete shows up he has the right amount of stools and the perfect microphone and all that good stuff,” Dietz said. “And the lighting is all correct and stuff like that.”
And then there is the advertising.
Dietz said it is important to get Davidson’s name out to Lehigh students and make sure they know he is coming, where to be, and how to buy tickets.
“Marketing is probably the biggest part,” Marcus added.
Having such a well-known star made it easy for people to want to attend the event.
“I heard about this show through friends that watch SNL and they said we had to go see him,” MacKenzie Velasquez, ’16, said. “Everyone I went with just loved the show.”
It was obvious at the show that the students really liked him, Dietz said.
“Meeting Pete Davidson in person, he’s so genuinely nice,” Marcus said.
The connection between Lehigh students and the University Productions group came full circle when students were able to engage in conversation with Davidson. Both Dietz and Marcus were happy the Lehigh community got to see the reason he was such a perfect fit for Lehigh’s comedy productions.
“In the end we are here to please Lehigh students,” Dietz said.