“Saturday Night Live” star Kenan Thompson admitted co-star Pete Davidson “missed the mark” when he joked about House of Representatives candidate Dan Crenshaw during the most recent episode of the NBC sketch comedy series. Davidson appeared on “Weekend Update” and made fun of Crenshaw’s appearance. Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL, wears an eyepatch after losing his right eye in an IED blast in 2012.
“You may be surprised to hear he’s a congressional candidate from Texas, and not a hitman in a porno movie,” Davidson said on air. “I’m sorry, I know he lost his eye in war, or whatever. Whatever.”
When asked on “Today” whether or not Davidson crossed the line, Thompson responded, “It definitely seems it. My father’s a veteran, Vietnam, and I personally would never necessarily go there, but it’s tough when you’re fishing for jokes. 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.”
Thompson said he believed Davidson’s “whatever” line was more a reflection on Davidson’s part that his Crenshaw joke didn’t land and not an attack on veterans. “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,” the comedian said.
“I think Pete’s a very humble dude and he’s got a big heart,” Thompson continued. “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.”
Davidson’s joke was criticized across the internet. Jack Pandol, the spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee, slammed the comedian for “lashing out at a decorated war hero who lost his eye serving our country.” Crenshaw, meanwhile, reacted to the joke on social media, writing “I hope ‘SNL’ recognizes that vets don’t deserve to see their wounds used as punchlines for bad jokes.”
The controversial joke aired during the Jonah Hill-hosted “Saturday Night Live” on November 3.