Rather than a cold open sketch, the first new episode of “SNL” since May began with a heartfelt statement on the unfolding violence in Israel that began a week ago with the coordinated Hamas terror attacks early on the morning of Oct. 7. Watch the cold open at the top of the page now.
Davidson, as he noted right from the start of his monologue during the premiere of “SNL” Season 49, has personal experience with these horrors — his father Scott was a New York firefighter who lost his life as a first responder on 9/11.
“I saw so many terrible pictures this week of children’s suffering their Israeli children and Palestinian children. And it took me back to a really horrible, horrible place. There’s no one in this world deserves to suffer like that, you know, especially not kids. You know?” Davidson said.
But, Davidson explained, his grief ended up helping him to discover his calling as a comedian. “After my dad died, my mom tried pretty much everything she could do to cheer me up. I remember one day when I was eight she got me what she thought was a Disney movie. But it was actually the Eddie Murphy stand-up special ‘Delirious.'”
“We played it in the car on the way home and then when she heard the things Eddie Murphy was saying, she tried to take it away. But then she noticed something. For the first time in a long time, I was laughing again. I don’t understand it, I really don’t and I never will. But sometimes comedy is really the only way forward through tragedy,” he said.
“My heart is with everyone whose lives have been destroyed this week. But tonight, I’m gonna do what I’ve always done in the face of tragedy and that’s try to be funny. Remember, I said try. And live from New York, it’s ‘Saturday Night.’ Let’s go.”
Though the episode marks the return of “Saturday Night Live” following the end of the writers’ strike, it also airs exactly one week after the initial Hamas attacks. Israel subsequently declared war on Hamas and between the initial terrorist violence and ensuing military response, more than 1,400 Israelis, 2,000 Palestinian civilians and 1,000 Hamas militants have been killed.
This isn’t the first time “SNL” has chosen to respond directly to devastating real world events in this manner. Most recently, on the Feb. 26 episode, instead of a sketch the show began with a performance by the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York. The performance was of course in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.