Most people may be unaware of this fact, based on his recent headlines and inability to make anyone laugh, but Pete Davidson is a comedian of some acclaim. Now he is on tour peddling his unfunny jokes, probably about his own penis, to paying audiences nationwide.
Yet for anyone wondering if Davidson’s stand-up is worth the price of admission, it may be impossible to find a review: Buzzfeed reports that anyone purchasing a ticket to one of Davidson’s shows is also being asked to sign a $1 million non-disclosure agreement. According to Buzzfeed, the NDA (which may or may not be fully unenforceable, according to one lawyer) bars people from a wide variety of communication, including “any interviews, offer any opinions or critiques, or otherwise participate by any means or in any form whatsoever (including but not limited to blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, or any other social networking or other websites whether no existing or hereafter created),” as they apply to Davidson’s shows.
So while attendees are hypothetically free to tweet something like, “Pete Davidson seems like a raging asshole who just likes to get high and contribute nothing to the world of comedy,” they risk getting slapped with a lawsuit if they go to his show and tie the critique to their attendance. Let’s run that back again, a person who paid their own hard-earned money to see Pete Davidson—the first mistake here—has to sign an NDA to even get into the show and that bars them, from saying anything positive or negative about a show that they just watched. Imagine if D.B. Weiss and David Benioff threatened to sue every viewer who tweeted about the finale of Game of Thrones, a piece of media that is very similar to Davidson’s brand of comedy in that they are both trash. (The law, you love to see it.)
The idea that Davidson’s jokes are so proprietary and cool that they need to be protected legally would be a joke itself if it wasn’t an overt threat to people who just want to see a fucking comedy show. He’s not threatening to sue other known comedians for stealing his work. he’s threatening his own fans. It’s another example of how out of pocket NDAs are becoming in the wider world—a tool used less to protect proprietary ideas and more as a power play, for people with money to scare people with less money into behaving in the most desired manner.
In what dimension could Davidson’s jokes be so original and unique that they would need to be kept a secret? I have to imagine that the main purpose of getting this absurd NDA being put in place at all is to ensure that people who find Pete Davidson funny will pay to see him instead of waiting for half of the set to get onto YouTube. I am genuinely curious to know what this man considers to be million-dollar jokes. But since I have no desire to send any percentage of my paycheck to this vain, giant toothed string bean, I suppose I will never know. Perhaps my life will be incredibly empty without the jokes this man has handcrafted and delivered to those who are obedient to him and his lawyers.