Saturday Night Live star Kenan Thompson made an appearance on Monday’s episode of the Today Show and spoke out about the backlash Pete Davidson is facing for a joke he made where he mocked political candidates based on their physical appearances.
One of his targets included Dan Crenshaw. Crenshaw is a Republican congressional candidate from Texas who lost his eye while serving with the U.S. Navy SEALs in Afghanistan in 2012, as reported by E! Entertainment.
Davidson’s comment about Crenshaw was heard during the November 3 episode of the series, which had returned after a several week hiatus with an episode hosted by Jonah Hill.
“You may be surprised to hear he’s a congressional candidate from Texas and not a hitman in a porno movie,” the comedian said during his “Weekend Update” segment. “I’m sorry. I know he lost his eye in war or whatever.”
Thompson admitted his co-star crossed the line with that particular joke, noting his own father is a war veteran.
“My father is a veteran—you know, Vietnam—and I personally would never necessarily go there,” Thompson noted.
“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 when they’re trying to go for a great joke or whatever. We try to respect that. But, at the same time, when you miss the mark, you’re offending people. So, you have to kind of like, be a little more aware, in my opinion.”
Thompson, who is the longest-running cast member on the late-night comedy sketch series (16 seasons) and who just won his first Creative Emmy for his work on SNL this year said that his fellow cast member “definitely missed the mark.”
Thompson’s Emmy win was also political in nature. He performed a bit with host and musical guest Chance the Rapper and fellow SNL star Chris Redd called “Come Back Barack,” where he begged former president Barack Obama to save our country from its current “misery.”
“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.’ You know what I mean?” Thompson remarked in defense of Davidson’s comments.
“I think Pete’s a very, you know, humble dude, and he’s got a big heart. I don’t think he goes out to offend people. You know what I mean? But, you know, stand-ups are very like—they’re the ones that help us laugh through the most awful things in the first place. So, they’re always fishing in weird places. That was an unfortunate outcome.”
Pete Davidson has not officially commented on the joke since delivering it on the series.
Crenshaw responded to Davidson’s joke by stating, as reported by Time Magazine, “I want us to get away from this culture where we demand apologies for every time a person misspeaks. I think that would be very healthy for our nation, to go in that direction.”
He continued, “But I would like him and Saturday Night Live to recognize something. Which is that veterans across the country probably don’t feel as though the wounds they received in battle should be the subject of a bad punchline for a bad joke. And here’s the real atrocity in all this: it wasn’t even funny.”
Saturday Night Live airs Saturday evenings on NBC.