Pete Davidson’s maligned ‘SNL’ joke is par for the uncomfortable course for the comic
Pete Davidson and his freshly blue hair dropped by the Weekend Update desk on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend to weigh in on politicians, including Republican congressional candidate Dan Crenshaw.
“You may be surprised to hear that he’s a congressional candidate from Texas and not a hitman in a porno movie,” Davidson joked, referring to the eye patch Crenshaw sports to cover the missing eye he lost while serving in Afghanistan. “I’m sorry. I know he lost his eye in war or whatever.”
As these things go in today’s media cycle, the condemnation for the 24-year-old comic’s joke was swift.
“Pete Davidson and NBC should immediately apologize to Dan,” said Jack Pandol, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
“The unhinged Left has respect for no one, including our nations war heros. Utterly shameful,” said Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn.
“This is absolutely appalling… Pete Davidson owes Dan Crenshaw an apology,” said Sen. Tammy Duckworth.
For casual viewers, the joke was in poor taste. Crenshaw was deployed overseas five times and lost his right eye after he was hit with an IED blast during a mission in Afghanistan – so what’s a blue-haired comedian doing in Studio 8H mocking those who have served the country?
For those familiar with Davidson’s comedy, the answer is simple: what he always does.
Davidson has made his career by throwing caution to the wind when it comes to commercially-approved topics of conversation in comedy – nothing at all seems to be off the table for the Staten Island native.
Take a look at any of his many self-deprecating sets, and it won’t be long before he dives into a joke about weed, or masturbation, or 9/11, the day he lost his firefighter father.
“I lost my dad on 9/11, and I always regretted growing up without a dad until I met your dad, Justin,” he said during a Justin Bieber roast in 2015. “Now I’m glad mine’s dead.”
The joke was also on him in his first stand-up set after his failed engagement to pop star Ariana Grande. “You ever have the feeling, you’re so sad you can’t (masturbate)? That hasn’t happened to me.”
Uncomfortable is Davidson’s shtick, whether it’s about himself, his dead father or anyone else.
“I’m like, ‘Heyyyy, I just want to talk about this, that everybody’s uncomfortable about,’” he told the New York Times in 2015. “I like doing that. I like making things that are dark, awkward, weird things that you don’t really find funny, funny.”
That was made clear, too, earlier this year, when an old joke Davidson, 24, made about the Manchester bombings resurfaced amid his whirlwind romance with Grande.
The comic joked last year that the attack must have made Grande realize she was incredibly famous, because “Britney Spears didn’t have a terrorist attack at her concert.”
Grande, who was engaged to Davidson at the time, said the gag was “tough & conflicting on my heart,” but that she understood her fiancé used humor to “help people feel better about how f---ed up things in this world are.”
The couple split last month, and in the aftermath of their break-up, Davidson has again been using comedy to cope – much to Grande’s dismay.
In a promo for the most recent episode of “Saturday Night Live,” Davidson jokingly asked musical guest Maggie Rogers to marry him – and after she said no, said he was “0 for 3” when it comes to failed engagements.
Grande seemed to lash out at the joke in a since-deleted tweet seemingly accusing Davidson of trying to “cling to relevancy” by repeatedly referencing their break-up in public.
But just as he has yet to back down from his Crenshaw jab, Davidson’s made it clear that he’ll mine just about anything for comedy.
“Pete has and will always joke about his life,” a source told People, “with or without (Grande).”