Pete Davidson Addresses Israel, Gaza in Saturday Night Live Cold Open

“Saturday Night Live” opened this week’s Season 49 premiere without a skit, but instead with host Pete Davidson discussing “the horrible images and stories from Israel and Gaza.”

Said Davidson: “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.

“I saw so many terrible pictures this week. Children suffering, Israeli children and Palestinian children. And it took me back to a really horrible, horrible place. No one in this world deserves to suffer like that, especially not kids.

“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.’ 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.

“You know, my heart is with everyone whose lives have been destroyed this week. But tonight, I’m gonna do what I’ve always done in the face of tragedy, and that’s try to be funny.”

It took a few months longer than anticipated, but Pete Davidson finally took the Studio 8H stage on Saturday night, hosting the Season 49 premiere of “Saturday Night Live.” After being shut down in May by the Hollywood writers strike, “SNL’s” October 14 episode marks the first of three consecutive weeks of original broadcasts.

Davidson had been scheduled to host the show last season, before the strike forced “SNL” to go dark due to the WGA strike. Ice Spice is this week’s musical guest. Next up, Bad Bunny will host and perform on Oct. 21.

This marks Davidson’s first time back on “SNL” since he departed as a cast member in 2022. Davidson spent eight seasons as a cast member, but this is his first time as the show’s guest host. Davidson’s originally planned May 6 hosting gig was to have coincided with the premiere that week of his new Peacock comedy “Bupkis”; that show has been renewed for a second season. He can also currently be seen in the feature “Dumb Money,” released late last month.

Returning “SNL” stars include Mikey Day, Andrew Dismukes, Chloe Fineman, Heidi Gardner, Punkie Johnson, Ego Nwodim, Kenan Thompson and Bowen Yang, while “Weekend Update” co-anchors Michael Che and Colin Jost are back. Upped to regular cast status are James Austin Johnson and Sarah Sherman, while returning featured players are Marcello Hernandez, Molly Kearney, Michael Longfellow and Devon Walker.

“SNL” runs live across the U.S. all at once, including in primetime on the west coast. The show is one of the most-watched entertainment programs on TV among viewers between 18 and 49, the demographic most preferred by advertisers.

NBCUniversal has already started negotiating with advertisers for sponsorships tied to the landmark 50th season of “SNL,” slated to debut in the fall of 2024. In March, “SNL” executive producer Lorne Michaels made a presentation in Studio 8H, the show’s longtime home at NBC’s New York headquarters, to around 100 advertisers about what to expect as the anniversary draws near. NBC plans a series of retrospectives around “SNL” as well as at least one documentary about the program.

While SAG-AFTRA has yet to settle its strike with the studios, the union said “SNL” cast members were allowed to return to the production. “SAG-AFTRA members appearing on Saturday Night Live either as hosts, guests, or cast members are working under the Network Code agreement, which is not a contract we are striking. They are not in violation of SAG-AFTRA strike rules, and we support them in fulfilling their contractual obligations.”

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