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In March, “Saturday Night Live” star Pete Davidson shocked viewers with a twisted joke during the Comedy Central roast of Justin Bieber.
“I lost my dad on 9/11, and I always regretted growing up without a dad,” he told the pop singer, “until I met your dad, Justin. Now I’m glad mine’s dead.”
The reaction to that joke included laughs, awkward silence, and groans. Everyone, though, paid attention.
“I like doing that,” Davidson, 21, told The New York Times. “I like making things that are dark, awkward, weird things that you don’t really find funny, funny.”
He said a lot of that had to do with his father’s death. Davidson, the youngest cast member of “SNL” last year, was 7 years old when his father died in the terrorist attack at the World Trade Center in 2001.
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Davidson began doing stand-up at age 16. He had a hard time in high school and began to feel acceptance in the Manhattan comedy clubs his mother would drive him to from their home in Staten Island.
“I just blended in perfectly,” he told The Times. “I feel very safe – you can say whatever you want.”
It was here that he honed his craft and realized why he liked to bring humor from dark places. Much of it stems from what he went through after his father died.
“There’s nothing I won’t joke about, and I think it’s because of what happened to me,” he said. “That’s the worst thing that could ever happen to somebody. Now it’s just like, ‘Who cares, man?'”
Davidson returns for a new season of “SNL” starting Saturday at 11:30 p.m. on NBC.