Saturday Night Live's political content has its supporters and naysayers, but nearly everyone agreed a recent "Weekend Update" joke ahead of the 2018 midterm elections completely missed the mark. Star Pete Davidson made an offhanded insult about then-candidate and former Navy SEAL Dan Crenshaw, who'd lost an eye in combat. Crenshaw graciously and gratefully appeared on SNL's latest episode to accept Davidson's apology and do some appearance-roasting of his own. He apparently had a great time doing it, too, saying this about the process.
It was a collaboration. They come up with the framework, I have a bunch of ideas. It's not at all often that I get to pitch a bunch of comedy ideas to one of the biggest shows in the world, so the good idea fairy was all over the place. It was fun though. We had a lot of fun.
What could have been an extremely awkward few minutes ended up being one of the strongest SNL moments in recent memory, so it's certainly a win that Dan Crenshaw had a good time making it happen. He looked like he was enjoying himself, while presumably also somewhat nervous to be sitting on the iconic "Weekend Update" set for the first time, and under such bizarre circumstances.
Pete Davidson, whose fizzled headline-crowding engagement with Ariana Grande was referenced in Dan Crenshaw's first big joke, took a minute to offer a self-deprecating apology to the Texas Congressman-elect before giving a more sincere one. That moment was one that many saw coming, considering the universal backlash Davidson received, for a joke that he already looked like he wanted to bail on as soon as he he started to say it.
However, Dan Crenshaw's appearance was less expected, even in a world where these kinds of culture-crossings happen often enough. After all, Crenshaw publicly stated that Davidson didn't need to apologize. Plus, he ended up winning in the election, making him one of more than 15 different military veterans newly elected to seats in the House. That group has already declared their intentions to work together across party lines to bring as much civil discourse to Congress as possible. As such, Crenshaw has lots on his plate.
Busy or not, Dan Crenshaw told the Today hosts that he (and his team) chose to make the SNL appearance as a way to continue spreading the message of unity and forgiveness that made him such a popular candidate in the first place. In his words:
We were hesitant at first. We weren't sure what the skit was going to look like. We had a lot of veterans events planned this weekend, of course. But in the end we decided to do it because what better platform to sort of give a united message for the country, to talk about forgiveness, and then talk about veterans. And they let me do that last part where we got a little bit serious and I was able to give a message about what I think it means to connect with veterans, and how to bridge that gap between civilians and military.
As much fun as it probably was to get to say to Pete Davidson's face that he looks like "a Troll doll with a tapeworm," Dan Crenshaw turned the semi-controversy into one of the more powerful teaching moments from both the election and SNL's history. If he manages to remain this universally popular around the country, maybe we can expect Crenshaw to return to Saturday Night Live in the future. Or maybe Pete Davidson will rankle the constituency of another promising politician or entertainer.
Check out the empowering (and amusing) segment below, which caps off with Crenshaw bringing up Pete Davidson's father, Scott, a firefighter and first responder who died in the 9/11 attacks.
Saturday Night Live airs on NBC every weekend at 11:30 p.m. ET. Be sure to check out the upcoming guest hosts, and then plan the rest of your fall TV calendar accordingly.