Davidson's second special is designed to trigger a modest but manageable backlash and groaning. "As a comic, he’s midtier at best, what with the stammering, the awkward pauses, the groaning asides, the rhythmless barrage of uhs and likes—but, again, not quite what we want, which is more gossip-column calamity," says Rob Harvilla. "Alive From New York, a modest 49-minute set released on Netflix on Tuesday, is less a matter of exquisite stand-up craft than of shrewd content generation, peaking with a vividly gnarly burst of barbed jokes about Davidson’s ex-fiancé, one Ariana Grande. Which is especially what we all want. Right? Right?"
Pete Davidson's second special is like his first with a focus on drugs, sex, masturbation and defecation: "Davidson’s not off-base when he complains about being slotted into a narrow lane on Saturday Night Live, but his non-SNL comedy doesn’t stray very far from the self-effacing underachiever persona he’s asked to trot out there," says Dennis Perkins. "There are glimpses—both on- and off-SNL—of the sort of working class, 'telling it like it is'-comic style that looks better on Davidson. And his uncommon frankness about his own struggles with addiction and mental health (neither of which surface here, except in passing) suggests that a truly compelling comic evolution as a stand-up isn’t out of the question. But Alive From New York shows a comedian who’s far too committed to the character of a guy from Staten Island for whom such a leap is far too much effort."
Alive from New York would be so much better if it wasn't so slapdash: One of the things to unpack is "less about what Davidson is working through and more about how," says Kathryn VanArendonk. "It’s good that he’s working through stuff, and it’s probably also good that he’s doing it by working — getting up in front of an audience and figuring out how to turn all this stuff into material. He is positioning himself in relation to all of it, and he’s hammering it into a story. But while Alive From New York is made and performed by someone who is without a doubt working through it, this is not a set by someone who has worked through it. Davidson may be hammering all of this into a narrative that he can use. He may be stitching together all the pieces of his life and examining them for the odd, remarkable, tragic, difficult, unlikely events they are. But as an hour of comedy, the work is not finished."
Alive from New York is like a DVD commentary on Davidson's ongoing SNL story: "The comedian’s first Netflix special, Alive from New York, plays like a lively, funny DVD commentary track for the overarching story Davidson has fleetingly told us on SNL, with all the details that wouldn’t neatly fit in a 'Weekend Update' segment," says Joe Berkowitz, adding: "Whether he’s on his way to superstardom, or headed for a future of middling HBO Max shows, Alive from New York is an accurate and entertaining document of the interesting SNL years of this comedian’s life."