For comedians, few stages are more intimidating than that of NBC’s legendary Studio 8H, home of Saturday Night Live for over 40 years.
But for young Staten Island-bred comedian Pete Davidson, who scored a coveted role on the cast just ahead of the show’s 40th anniversary season, he’s still shocked he even got the chance.
“I was like, ‘Oh wow, holy s—!’ Davidson tells PEOPLE of unexpectedly landing the audition of lifetime. “It was pretty awesome.”
With a love for comedy inherited from his dad, a New York City firefighter who tragically died during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Davidson is bringing the laughs now in his second season on the show. In this week’s issue of PEOPLE he opens up about the dream job and why being the youngest castmember has its benefits.
You’re only 21, how long have you been doing comedy?
This is my sixth year. It’s not a long time but it’s a third of my life, which is pretty awesome. I always thought laughing was fun. My dad really liked it. We always used to watch comedies together, from what I can remember. And my mom accidentally bought me Eddie Murphy‘s Delirious for my eighth birthday. She thought it was just a movie, but it wasn’t. She didn’t find out until months later when I kept cursing at Christmas and she’s like “What’s going on?”
RELATED VIDEO: This Week’s Issue – in Song!
How did SNL come along?
It was after Amy Schumer gave me a part in Trainwreck and I met Bill Hader on set and we talked and kind of hit it off. He called me a week later and said “Hey, I recommended you to [SNL executive producer] Lorne Michaels.” And I was like, “Why?” I was just so surprised. I didn’t even know that I could audition. And the fact that I got it, I just couldn’t believe it.
Do you feel like the youngest when you’re on set?
Not really. You feel that way when people say it. It’s one of those weird things where it’s like, if I suck, it’s OK because I’m young. But if I’m good, it’s like, “Oh wow, he’s young!” It’s nice. But they don’t treat me like a child.
You get a lot of laughs on the show, especially when poking fun at how you’re able look racially ambiguous.
Oh yea, I’m a straight white dude but for some reason I look like every other race mixed together. I’m all Irish and Italian but for some reason I look like a Puerto Rican. I use it to my advantage. I feel like as soon as people find out I’m just a white dude, I’ll start losing work. They’ll be like, “Aw, he’s not special.”
So how do you feel about your newfound fame?
It creeps me out! I hate all of the attention. But I’ve had the same friends forever and they’re cool, so nothing has really changed. Everybody’s just like, “Wow, this is weird!” That’s how I feel anyway. It’s just really weird.
For more on SNL’s Pete Davidson, pick up this week’s issue, on stands now.