SNL Under Fire For Joke About Candidate Who Lost His Eye In Afghanistan

pete davidson saturday night live

Saturday Night Live has rarely held back from making a joke simply because someone might get offended by it, and the country's current political climate hasn't stopped them before. However, the show didn't come out of its most recent episode unscathed, with outspoken SNL star Pete Davidson drawing heat for jokes made about Congressional candidate Dan Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL who lost an eye on a tour in Afghanistan.

Dan Crenshaw, who retired as a U.S. Navy lieutenant commander, took to social media to call out SNL for the comments.

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All things considered, Dan Crenshaw's response was as cordial and matter-of-fact as anything resembling a complaint can get. Rather than poking back at the series or Pete Davidson, he merely expressed a hope that Saturday Night Live isn't the kind of show that condones its stars setting up veterans' injuries as comedic fodder.

For those who didn't watch the episode on Saturday night, the "Weekend Update" segment featured Michael Che passing the focus onto Pete Davidson, who shared his first impressions of various candidates vying for the most votes in the midterm election.

This guy's kinda cool, Dan Crenshaw. You may be surprised to hear that he's a congressional candidate from Texas, and not a hitman in a porno movie. [laughs] I'm sorry, I know he lost his eye in war, or whatever.

For what it's worth, some believe that the end of the Crenshaw gag -- in which Davidson gets tripped up and repeats "Whatever..." -- was the comedian recognizing the joke's poor taste and just having to move beyond it, as opposed to attempting a more genuine apology. It was a pretty awkward moment punctuating a pretty awkward bit, and Davidson's face seems to reflect that momentarily before he went on to talk about Andrew Cuomo.

Dan Crenshaw didn't seem to be particularly offended by Pete Davidson's comments on SNL, pointing out that it's not second-nature behavior for him. Someone who had more to say about the matter, though, was Davidson's Saturday Night Live co-star Kenan Thompson, currently the longest-lasting cast member on the NBC mainstay.

Speaking with Today, Kenan Thompson essentially said that Pete Davidson was in the wrong for joking about Dan Crenshaw's war injury. However, Thompson was also somewhat forgiving of the situation in general, saying that unfortunate incidents like that are often a result of comedians just trying to see what makes people laugh.

He definitely missed the mark. I think he was more so commenting on the fact that the joke maybe didn't land as hard as he wanted to as opposed to being like I don't care about veterans. . . . It definitely seems [he crossed a line]. My father's a veteran, Vietnam, and I personally would never necessarily go there, but it's tough when you're fishing for jokes -- like that's how stand-ups 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. I think Pete's a very humble dude and he's got a big heart and I don't think he goes out to offend people, but stand-ups, they're the ones who help us laugh through the most awful things in the first place so they're always fishing in weird places and that was an unfortunate outcome.

That "Weekend Update" segment was also notable for being the first time Pete Davidson publicly addressed his high-profile broken engagement with pop star Arianna Grande. He pointed out that some things don't work out, which is fine. After complimenting her, he encouraged people to go vote.

Find out how Dan Crenshaw and many other candidates do on Election Day by tuning into your local stations, as well as all the usual cable news networks. Find how out SNL's next episode goes by tuning in Saturday nights on NBC at 11:30 p.m. ET. To see what other shows are in need of viewers, check out our fall TV premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.