Saturday Night Live opted to forgo its typical cold open parodying the week’s news for the first episode of season 49, with host Pete Davidson instead delivering a solemn message addressing the Israel-Hamas conflict.
“This week, we saw the horrible images and stories from Israel and Gaza,” Davidson said.
“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 7 years old, my dad was killed in a terrorist attack. So I know something about what that’s like.” Davidson’s father, Scott Davidson, was a New York City firefighter who died in the 9/11 terror attacks.
On October 7, Hamas led the deadliest militant attack in Israel’s history, prompting the country to launch its heaviest ever airstrikes on Gaza, a long-blockaded territory with about 2.3 million Palestinian residents.
The Gaza Health Ministry said 2,329 Palestinians have been killed since the fighting erupted, according to The Associated Press. More than 1,300 Israelis have been killed in the conflict, the agency said. The militant group has also taken hostages into the besieged territory.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his country is “at war” and has cut off supplies of food, fuel, electricity and medicine into Gaza. Israel has called up 360,000 army reservists as it prepares for a likely ground offensive into the territory.
“I saw so many terrible pictures this week of children suffering, Israeli children and Palestinian children,” Davidson said. “It took me back to a really horrible, horrible place. No one in this world deserves to suffer like that, especially not kids.”
Davidson went on to talk about how his mother had tried so many ways to cheer him up after his father died.
“I remember one day when I was 8, she got me what she thought was a Disney movie, but it was actually the Eddie Murphy stand-up special, Delirious,” he said.
“We played it in the car on the way home, but 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, I really don’t, I never will, but 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.”
A moment later, he added: “Remember, I said try.”
Later in the episode, the first “Weekend Update” segment of the season saw host Colin Jost touch on the war.
“This was a terrible week for the world, but a great week for random idiots who like to share completely unhinged thoughts wherever they can,” Jost said.
He joked that one person had written a 1000-word essay titled “How I’d Fix Palestine” and posted it in a Yelp review for a Buffalo Wild Wings.
Jost went on to reference former president Donald Trump’s recent comments about the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
“Even world leaders who could be making it better or making it worse,” Jost said. “For example, former President Trump went out of his way to praise the terrorist group Hezbollah, calling them quote ‘very smart.'”
Jost joked that “in Trump’s defense, he thinks Hezbollah is the genie from Aladdin.”
Newsweek has contacted Trump’s office for comment via email.