In a world raging with conflict, Saturday Night Live returned for its 49th season premiere with oft-troubled comedian Pete Davidson at the helm — and once he got into his opening monologue, it became clear that there may not have been a better choice.
Davidson, 29, was uncharacteristically sombre as he delivered the cold open, and the lights were turned down in the studio to emphasize the gravity of the topic: the Israel-Hamas conflict.
“This week we saw the horrible images and stories from Israel and Gaza,” he started. “And I know what you’re thinking, who better to comment on it than Pete Davidson?”
“Well, in a lot of ways I am a good person to talk about it because when I was seven years old, my dad was killed in a terrorist attack. So, I know something about what that’s like,” he said, referring to his father, Scott, who was a New York City firefighter who died on Sept. 11, 2001.
Davidson then spoke out about the horrific images of dead and injured children that have emerged from the conflict.
“I saw so many terrible pictures this week. Children suffering, Israeli children and Palestinian children,” he said. “And it took me back to a really horrible, horrible place. No one in this world deserves to suffer like that, especially not kids.”
He elaborated on his own experience dealing with death as a child, and said he always used humour to get himself away from dark thoughts and impulses.
“After my dad died, my mom tried pretty much everything she can do to cheer me up. I remember one day when I was eight. She got me what she thought was a Disney movie. But it was actually the Eddie Murphy stand-up special Delirious,” he explained.
“And we played it in the car on the way home. And when she heard the things Eddie Murphy was saying, she tried to take it away. But then she noticed something. For the first time in a long time, I was laughing again. I don’t understand that. I really don’t and I never will. But sometimes comedy is really the only way forward through tragedy.”
“My heart is with everyone whose lives have been destroyed this week, but tonight, I’m going to do what I’ve always done in the face of tragedy: and that’s try to be funny,” he concluded.
His SNL hosting was Davidson’s first time back on the comedy sketch show since he departed as a cast member in 2022. Davidson spent eight seasons as a part of the cast. He’s currently starring in Dumb Money, a movie about the GameStop stock boom.
(You can watch the cold open in its entirety, top.)
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