Saturday Night Live omitted its customary comedy mocking the previous week’s headlines for the start of its 49th season. Instead, the show’s host, Pete Davidson, gave a solemn cold open about the conflict between Israel and Hamas in a rare display of reserved demeanor.
Davidson spoke on the “horrible images and stories from Israel and Gaza” of helpless citizens, particularly children, being killed, injured, or affected by the tragedy during his cold open.
He joked, “I know what you’re thinking, who better to comment on it than Pete Davidson?” before informing viewers that he was just 7 years old when his father passed away during the 9/11 terrorist attack.
— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) October 15, 2023
His father, Scott Davidson, was a firefighter who died at the World Trade Centre alongside his unit.
Pete Davidson's father, Scott Davidson, was last seen helping evacuate people from the Marriott World Trade Centre moments before the building collapsed. He was one of the most courageous firefighters of Ladder 118.
Pete who was seven at the time, later revealed in a podcast the… pic.twitter.com/qF2TGcrCUm
— Archeology and History (@archehistory) September 11, 2023
“Well, in a lot of ways, I am a good person to talk about it because when I was 7 years old, my dad was killed in a terrorist attack,” he continued. “So I know something about what that’s like.”
Davidson remembered that when his mother gave him what she thought was a Disney movie when he was 8 years old, it was the one thing that brought back happiness in his life.
The film was actually Eddie Murphy’s 1983 stand-up performance, “Delirious.”
“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,” he said. “But then she noticed something. For the first time in a long time, I was laughing again.”
Davidson added that he has always turned to humour in the face of sadness and took a time to reflect on the lives that have been “destroyed” by the attacks in Israel and Gaza.
“Sometimes, comedy is really the only way forward through tragedy,” he said. “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. Remember, I said ‘try.'”
Following a string of unexpected attacks on last Saturday, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant declared in a video message posted on X (formerly known as Twitter) that Israel is “putting a complete siege on Gaza” and referring to it as a “total blockade.”
According to UNRWA, 1.7 million of Gaza’s 2.1 million residents are Palestinian refugees. The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that since the conflict intensified on Saturday, more over 123,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to flee their homes.
NBC broadcasts Saturday Night Live at 11:30 p.m. ET.