Social 15 October 2018 | 9:30

Important post: the Editor breaks his silence on Ariana and Pete

15 October 2018 09:30

So the big news for geopolitical analysts to chew over this morning is the break-up of Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson. It would be unkind to say this is no surprise. So I’ll just have to be unkind and say: this is no surprise.

I mean, even Davidson himself predicted it in one of his recent Saturday Night Live monologues as the show’s ‘Resident Young Person’: ‘If we break up, and we won’t (we will) – but, like, in ten years if, God forbid that ever happened, there will be a song called ‘Pete Davidson’ like playing on speakers at K-Mart. And I’ll be working there.’ The 24-year-old comic also joked that Grande, a global pop superstar, might have a beady eye on his collection of sneakers.

It is no secret that his now-ex-fiancée has had a gruelling year and a half. The Manchester terrorist atrocity that followed her concert in May 2017 was a trauma that nobody could be expected to get over quickly – least of all a figure so remorselessly subject to public scrutiny. Last month, her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller died at the age of 26 of a suspected overdose. On Twitter, she recently tweeted: ‘can i pls have one okay day. just one. pls.’

As anyone who has seen her interviewed or performing her superb impressions can attest, Grande is a much more intelligent and substantial figure than her bubblegum-pop image would imply. She may yet transcend that image to become an artist of longevity rather than a momentary sensation. So it is not at her expense that I say this morning: don’t rule out Davidson. Social media savaged him gleefully last night as a goofy stoner who had always been out of his depth in this relationship – an impostor in the world of curated Instagram beauty who would not be missed.

Davidson’s whole shtick is self-deprecating. He is the badly-dressed, tattoo-covered outsider from Staten Island, who jokes that he is rarely given anything to do on SNL. But – please note – he is still there, four years after he joined in 2014. Anyone who thinks it is easy to last that long on this most ruthless of shows should read Jay Mohr’s memoir, Gasping for Airtime: Two Years in the Trenches at Saturday Night Live (2004). And then watch Davidson’s 2016 sketch with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, ‘The Poolboy’ (‘Oh, okay’) or its recent follow-up, ‘Doctor’s Orders’ with Jessica Chastain. Both are comedy gold.

Which doesn’t come easy. Davidson’s trick, like Richard Pryor, George Carlin and John Belushi before him, is to make it look as though he is barely trying: the hardest comic trick of all to pull off.

Consider, too, how difficult it is to be recruited to America’s flagship comedy show so young – and to be kept on. The last performer to pull off the same trick was a 19-year-old called Eddie Murphy. Newly-single Davidson may be. But those expecting him, Grande-less, to disappear into a bong and fade away are, I suspect, in for a surprise.