Pete Davidson’s Blowjob Monologue: A Funny, Frustrating Introduction From ‘SNL’s’ Only New Cast Member

“American Gayness” “got better” for me a long time ago. I left a middle school in a conservative town to go to an arts magnet — not, initially, because I found the arts particularly… magnetic, but mostly in hopes that it’d “get better.” Having, from high school through college to NY, skipped over the more tender parts of gay American youth, I’ve surrounded myself with a somewhat ignorant and self-serving bubble of “better.”

So sometimes, when I hear a gay joke, I can be a little flippant. “Hah, yes, penis, we do enjoy it, good one,” I’ll chuckle easily. There’s such comfort in being able to chuckle, as if all such jokes amounted to nothing more than these self-deprecating chuckles. Like the “cool dad” who asserts his “cool-dadness” by laughing at his own dad-ish tendencies, I think, “Silly old me, all that cock-guzzling!” But sometimes I think, “Is the chuckle a little less assured than I might think, a little higher-pitched?” Is it merely an uncertain plea for the continuation of said comfort, which, I’m aware, could be shattered at any moment – shattered, even, by the messages sent by the jokes I sometimes want to laugh along with?

“Funny” that, in combing the web for things to react to this morning, the first article I saw on Jezebel was, “Three Charged In NYC Attack and Shooting of Gay Man Dressed as Woman.” This happened near where I live, in Bushwick; the perpetrators were young – 17, 21, and 22. “Funny,” then, that the next thing I clicked on was a collection of SNL clips, wherein 20-year-old SNL inductee Pete Davidson monologues about how he’d go down on a guy for not-that-much-money. Apparently, everyone thinks he “killed it.”

You see, if I hadn’t read the first article – the hate-crime article – and if I weren’t in Internet-scanning hawk mode, perhaps I’d have chuckled. The little man’s got good, swaying comic timing, even if what he’s saying is unfunny, or — dare I be a killjoy? — a little offensive. But the juxtaposition struck me. This joke won’t make me more homophobic; I know where I stand re: dick and re: liking it. But from one charismatic, “not gay, even though being gay is OK” 20-year-old down to some other hetero 17-year-old SNL watcher, how will the joke land? How will it not turn so many peoples’ expressions of sexuality – whether it’s a blowjob as an expression of something as substantial as love or a blowjob as something as insubstantial as a desperate attempt to put a fast, wet end to a bad Tinder date – into an othering joke?

Here’s the gist of the very long, “othering” joke: firstly, it uses a “Pennsylvania teenager [facing] up to two years in prison for photographing himself in a sexual position with a statue of Jesus” as a diving board for… gay fellatio. Michael Che – in his own segment as Weekend Update host – segues into Pete Davidson’s introduction, and Davidson’s minutes-long commentary on the monetary gain he’d need to lick a dick. The segue suggests it’s merely making the connection between the two stories because we’re hearing from SNL’s “resident young person,” and he’s going to talk about this other silly thing young people do. But the segue also seems weirdly like a comparison not only between blasphemy and homosexuality, but between homosexuality and the dumb shit kids do (of course, in the actual news story, the dumb picture is by far overshadowed by the ridiculously dumb laws that could send this poor kid to jail for two years). I don’t know about you, but when I give a blowjob, I don’t feel like a delinquent teenager in Pennsylvania.

So Davidson equates the Jesus-besmirching photo with some of the other darnedest things kids do, like playing the “how much money would you go down on a guy for game.” Of course, it’s quite charitable for Davidson to say that, while everyone lies when they say they wouldn’t gay-fellate for a million dollars, he would. Get this, boyz: he’d even do it for $3,000!

Davidson’s was an unwaveringly confident introduction. On a show that doesn’t just deliver dull punchlines, but also often forgets that punchlines are something to aim for in comedy, young Pete proved particularly adept at the fundamentals of setting up and following through with a joke. And it’s weird, because blowjobs are kind of funny. As I’m writing this, I find myself wanting to use the word “blowjob” as much as humanly possible.

The part of me that exists in a hedonistic bubble wants to laugh at his dumb joke, but the part of me that stumbled on that Jezebel article – and that so often seems to stumble on articles about the newest hate crime – has some major qualms with its toying with the gross-out factor of gay sex. It seems, perhaps fairly, utterly juvenile. I’d love, rather, to hear a straight comedian talking about his openness to experimentation and “the spectrum” outside of a joke about getting paid to experiment with the spectrum. Is that just a desire coming from inside my ridiculous bubble of socially liberal expectations? Should I be thrilled to even be represented at all, albeit as part of an immense, abstract group of recipients of Davidson’s hypothetical, grudging, but remunerated (!) blowjobs?

Davidson’s discovery of comedy is a cool story: he allegedly turned to humor for therapy while trying to deal with the emotional aftermath of his firefighter father’s death in 9/11. It’s genuinely awesome that this thing that was once a mere outlet for recovery has now led him to be a record-breaking (albeit very burgeoning) comedic success story.

I don’t hate humor, and I’m often hesitant to police it – because humor often needs somewhat inappropriate fuel to thrive. But I guess I like giving blowjobs – and not feeling like there’s humor that’s somehow equating my sacred blowjobs to inane delinquency, and not feeling like those comparisons somehow contribute to a perpetuation of latent American homophobia – more. Davidson is clearly quite skilled; the joke was well structured, it spins back on itself in semi-rewarding ways, and despite the fact that a part of me wants to see him flounder in some unrewarding internships (but still ultimately be very successful!!!), I think it’s really cool that this kid is breaking an SNL record. He clearly possesses an ability to do well – if he can apply his developed knowledge of timing to less basic, dated material. That being said, I guess I’d probably have to tell a very long joke to figure out how much money it’d take me to go down on him.