Pete Davidson finally got his chance to host SNL as the series returned for its 49th season Saturday, in a jam-packed show that did not disappoint.
The premiere episode included an earnest cold open from Davidson regarding the Israel-Hamas war, along with a Barbie song parody, a visit from not-the-real Deion Sanders and plenty of nods to and — who also paid a real visit to the show.
Here’s a breakdown of the night’s biggest moments and what people are saying about them.
Cold open monologue
Given the current situation with the Israel-Hamas war, it only made sense to address it before launching into a night built around trying to make people laugh. And it turns out that former cast member and this week’s host, Davidson, was the perfect man to deliver the statement.
“I know what you’re thinking, ‘Who better to comment on it than Pete Davidson?’” he joked. “Well, in a lot of ways, I am a good person to talk about it because when I was seven years old, my dad was killed in a terrorist attack. So I know something about what that’s like.”
Davidson’s father, a New York firefighter, died at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Davidson said the terrible images from the past week took him back “to a horrible, horrible place.” And he said it was a comedy (courtesy of an accidental rental of Eddie Murphy’s R-rated Delirious) that got him laughing again.
“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 going to do what I’ve always done in the face of tragedy, and that’s try to be funny. Remember: I said ‘try.’’
#snl always knows how to handle horrific topics so well. Pete’s monologue was better than any political speech and hollow celebrity cut and paste statements. The grief of the past week has been unbearable, thank you #SNLPremiere for the much needed joy in dark times
— ★ Me ★ (@FanGirl1979) October 15, 2023
Taylor and Travis
Once the show was underway, one of the big topics of the night was one of the big topics of the month: the relationship between Swift and Kelce. A skit early in the evening, parodying Fox’s NFL coverage team being obsessed with Swift and Kelce, actually featured Kelce himself in a cameo at the end.
But since Kelce and Swift had already been spotted out to dinner together earlier in the night, it’s no surprise that Swift was also in the building and later made a cameo of her own, introducing a performance from the musical act Ice Spice.
The couple weren’t done there, they also hit up an SNL afterparty to keep the fun going.
And of course, the sighting of Traylor (Travis and Taylor) on the show had viewers taking to social media with their excited reactions.
Taylor and Travis just casually hanging out on a Saturday night in New York like “….. Should we crash SNL?” They are LIVING
— Sav (@SavLovesSwift) October 15, 2023
Besides anything and everything involving Swift and Kelce, one of the big sketches of the night was Davidson performing a musical parody of the popular “I’m Just Ken” song from the Barbie movie called, “I’m Just Pete.”
Along with singing that he looks “like a meth head on the street” and making a reference to Kanye, the song also includes the lyrics: “I’m just Pete, anyone else I’d be a three; But I guess I’m hot for dudes in comedy, ‘cause it’s an ugly industry.”
And the song was being felt across social media.
Pete Davidson with a Barbie song parody…yes, please 😀😀 #snl
— Peggy Low (@PeggyLow12) October 15, 2023
Weekend Update/Deion Sanders
The return of the always-funny Weekend Update featured takes on Donald Trump, Christopher Columbus and National No Bra Day, among other topics, but one of the more poignant moments was a fake visit from University of Colorado football coach Deion Sanders, played by veteran cast member Keenan Thompson.
After a strong and exciting start to the season, accompanied by plenty of confidence from Sanders, the Colorado football team has had a few tough losses of late, including a nail-biter on Friday which made for even more fun fodder for the segment.
Pete’s journey to the stage
Saturday’s appearance for Davidson actually took place over five months after he was supposed to do it, a gig that got derailed thanks to the now-resolved writers’ strike.
In that time, Davidson was in a headline-making car accident that resulted in a sentence of community service and then an eventual return to rehab for the actor and comedian. All of that was followed by a second minor car wreck just a few weeks ago.
Speaking of the strikes, it’s worth noting that despite the currently ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, SNL hosts and cast members are able to perform under something called a Network Code Agreement. SAG-AFTRA is not striking against that contract, therefore the performers are not in violation of strike rules.
Saturday Night Live airs Saturdays on NBC at 11:30ET 10:30CT 9:30MT 8:30PT.