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Pete Davidson, whose dad died in 9/11, opens ‘SNL’ with an emotional message on Israel-Hamas war

“Sometimes comedy is really the only way forward through tragedy.”
/ Source: TODAY

Comedian and actor Pete Davidson kicked off the 49th season of "Saturday Night Live" with poignant words on moving forward through times of sorrow.

Davidson, who was a "SNL" cast member for eight seasons, delivered a cold open that touched on the ongoing crisis in the Middle East. In his moving speech, the comedian took a moment to address the “horrible images and stories from Israel and Gaza.”

“I know what you’re thinking, who better to comment on it than Pete Davidson?” he said.

"Well in a lot of ways, I'm a good person to talk about it because when I was seven years old my dad was killed in a terrorist attack," he continued. "So I know something about what that's like."

Davidson lost his father, Scott Davidson, a New York City firefighter, on Sept. 11, 2001, during the attack on the World Trade Center. The comedian had previously opened up about the loss of his dad and working with a trauma therapist to help him with his post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder.

During his opener, Davidson noted that seeing the "many terrible pictures this week" was triggering.

“Children suffering, Israeli children and Palestinian children. And it took me back to a really horrible place,” he said. “No one in this world deserves to suffer like that, especially not kids.” 

The comedian-actor then shared a touching story about how comedy helped him to overcome the loss of his father, saying “my mom tried everything — pretty much everything she knew, to cheer me up.”

Davidson said his mother played a key role in helping him to navigate uncharted territories when it came to dealing with loss and tragedy. 

The comedian recalled the unusual gift he received from her at 8 years old that allowed him to take a step towards healing and made him laugh again for the “first time in a long time.” 

“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, and when she heard the things Eddie Murphy was saying, she tried to take it away.”

The comedian highlighted how comedy created a space for him to move forward and overcome painful experiences.  

“I don’t understand, I really don’t, I never will, but sometimes comedy is really the only way forward through tragedy,” he said.

He then ended his cold open on a note of hope, empathy, and humor. “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.”

After taking a pause, he then quipped, “Remember, I said try.”

The "SNL" alum was originally set to host back in May of this year, but the Hollywood writers strike ended the show’s 48th season prematurely. The Oct. 14 episode marked the return of "Saturday Night Live" with Ice Spice as a musical guest.