The outlet interviewed a survivor of the concert attack and the mother of a victim, who called it “disgusting.”
This has been “tough & conflicting on my heart,” Grande tweeted, adding Davidson uses comedy to help “people feel better” about how messed up “things in this world are.”
“we all deal [with] trauma differently,” she continued. “I of course didn’t find it funny. it was months ago & his intention wasn’t/ is never malicious but it was unfortunate.”
Davidson is familiar with tragedy. He was just 7 years old when his father, a New York City firefighter, was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The comic has spoken publicly about his father’s death, both in serious interviews and in his act, using his trademark dark and self-aware juvenile approach to comedy.
“I have a lot of jokes about it,” Davidson said during his 2016 Comedy Central special, “SMD” (named after his father’s initials, but also, he jokes, coincidentally an abbreviation for a pretty crude act). He then launched into those jokes, warning the audience that if they did not like the first bit, they probably would not like the rest.
Davidson also brought up his father’s death during his set at the Comedy Central roast of Justin Bieber, a show known for brutally harsh material: “I lost my dad on 9/11, and I always regretted growing up without a dad, until I met your dad, Justin,” Davidson told the pop singer. “Now, I’m glad mine’s dead.”
“Things that I feel really sad about, I talk about,” Davidson said in 2015, referring to his material about his father’s death. “That way, if it’s funny, it doesn’t hurt anymore.”
People quoted an anonymous Davidson source as saying the Manchester joke was taken out of context.
Sudden and increased fame for a comic also can mean a spotlight is put on their old material. After Trevor Noah got tapped to take over for Jon Stewart at “The Daily Show,” Twitter users easily surfaced some of his old tweets, deeming the jokes as lazy, offensive or lame.
Noah had to respond to the mini-controversy. “To reduce my views to a handful of jokes that didn’t land is not a true reflection of my character, nor my evolution as a comedian,” he tweeted in 2015.
Then there are jokes told at live shows. Comics have gotten into hot water increasingly in recent years as audience members film sets or blog about jokes. It can be a fraught environment for performers who say their act does not translate well outside of a live show.
Many comics have grown increasingly wary of cellphones at their shows, either because their material is still in progress or because they want to save the jokes for their specials. Several performers, such as Kevin Hart, require audience members to lock up their phones in magnetic pouches.
Sometimes, jokes, when isolated from the rest of an act and written down without a performer’s cadence and delivery, can be misunderstood, performers say. Dave Chappelle addressed this dynamic in his 2017 special “Equanimity” when telling a joke about how he had voted for Hillary Clinton as the lesser of two evils. “I didn’t feel bad about it, but it didn’t feel as good as it should have,” he said.
As he went through his points, drawing laughs throughout, it is clear Chappelle was not a Trump fan. (He told a joke about how he felt sorry for Trump supporters he saw at his Ohio polling place — “You’re poor! He’s not fighting for you, he’s fighting for me.”)
But then Chappelle explained he had told the same jokes at a New York comedy club and a journalist in the audience ended up writing an article headlined “Dave Chappelle is an avid Donald Trump supporter.” Chappelle said his wife called him in a panic and read him comments from readers calling him an Uncle Tom.
“How am I an Uncle Tom?” Chappelle shot back. “You’re the one who reads the Observer!”