One joke too far? Pete Davidson has sparked public outcry — and criticism from a fellow Saturday Night Live star — after making fun of Texas congressional candidate and war veteran Dan Crenshaw, who lost an eye in Afghanistan and now wears an eyepatch.
“This guy’s kinda cool, Dan Crenshaw,” the 24-year-old said of the former Navy SEAL during SNL’s “Weekend Update” on Saturday, November 3. “You may be surprised to hear that he’s a congressional candidate from Texas and not a hitman in a porno movie.”
Davidson added, “I’m sorry, I know he lost an eye in war or whatever. Whatever.”
After the episode, Crenshaw tweeted his disappointment. “Good rule in life: I try hard not to offend; I try harder not to be offended,” he wrote. “That being said, I hope @nbcsnl recognizes that vets don’t deserve to see their wounds used as punchlines for bad jokes.”
The candidate — who lost his right eye in an IED blast in Afghanistan in 2012, according to his campaign website — elaborated on his reaction in an interview with TMZ. “I want us to get away from this culture where we demand apologies every time someone misspeaks,” he told the site. “I think that would be very healthy for our nation to go in that direction. We don’t need to be outwardly outraged. I don’t need to demand apologies from [SNL]. They can do whatever they want, you know. They are feeling the heat from around the country right now, and that’s fine.”
Jack Pandol, a spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee, had stronger words for the comedian. “Getting dumped by your pop star girlfriend is no excuse for lashing out at a decorated war hero who lost his eye serving our country,” Pandol said in a statement, referring to Davidson’s recent split with Ariana Grande. “Pete Davidson and NBC should immediately apologize to Dan, and to the millions of veterans and military families who tune in every weekend — because they’re not laughing.”
SNL castmate Kenan Thompson also criticized the joke during an appearance on Today on Monday, November 5, but also expressed empathy for his colleague.
“My father’s a veteran, Vietnam, and I personally would never necessarily go there, but it’s tough when you’re fishing for jokes,” the 40-year-old said. “Like, that’s how standups feel like there’s no real filters out there in the world when they’re trying to go for a great joke or whatever, and we try to respect that. But at the same time, when you miss the mark, you’re offending people so you have to really be a little more aware, in my opinion.”
“He definitely missed the mark,” Thompson continued, before calling Davidson “a humble dude” with “a big heart.”
“I don’t think he goes out to offend people,” he added.
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