Pete Davidson Reveals the Drug-Induced Comment He Made at Aretha Franklin's Funeral
The comedian said he was so high, he approached the late singer's family.
Comedians are known for pushing the envelope with their jokes—just look at Jo Koy's ribbing of Taylor Swift at the Golden Globes, and the subsequent backlash. But Pete Davidson is just now revealing a cringey quip he made back in 2018. This one wasn't part of a comedy set, however—it was actually at the funeral of singing legend Aretha Franklin. According to Davidson, his drug use prompted him to make a remark that didn't quite land.
Davidson previously spoke out on his use of ketamine, which he took daily for several years to treat depression, TMZ reported. Ketamine is a "dissociative anesthetic hallucinogen" that makes people feel detached, also creating a sense of sedation and amnesia, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). In his new Netflix special, Pete Davidson: Turbo Fonzarelli, Davidson said he's no longer using ketamine—and looking back, he feels a bit "embarrassed."
"It's embarrassing when you're not on ketamine anymore, though … I'm embarrassed. I was out and about like that. That's not cool, you know?" he reflected. "I was at funerals like that. That's [expletive] up right? I was at Aretha Franklin's funeral like that. Yeah, I have to live with that. You know what I mean?"
Davidson conceded that Franklin, who passed in Aug. 2018, will "never know" he attended her services in this state. Still, he said, "That's not the point."
According to the comedian, he was "so high" at the event that he decided to approach Franklin's family with a fairly inappropriate joke.
"It's embarrassing. I'm so high, I thought it would be a good idea to go up to her family and go, 'Hey, I'm just here to pay my R-E-S-P-E-C-T…S,'" he said, a play on Franklin's most iconic song.
Davidson didn't mention how the joke went over with the people he was speaking to, but did point out that Franklin herself might be confused as to why he was at her funeral in the first place.
"If she was there, she would probably be like, 'Hey, who are you? And what the [expletive] are you doing at my funeral?'" the comedian joked.
According to TMZ, Davidson is probably correct in saying this, as he was there as a guest of then-fiancée Ariana Grande. (The couple broke off their brief engagement in Oct. 2018, and Davidson is currently dating actress Madelyn Cline, per the Daily Mail.)
While it is approved for hard-to-treat depression and can be a solution for those who don't respond to other medications, ketamine can also be taken as a party drug, USA Today reports. For Davidson's part, he called the drug "magical" during his recent Netflix special, and joked that it gave him "amazing ideas."
He made similar comments during a comedy show in Sept. 2023 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, revealing that he'd checked into rehab earlier that summer due to substance abuse issues, the Los Angeles Times reported. People confirmed that Davidson checked into a facility in June 2023 to receive in-person therapy related to his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder (BPD).
"I am fresh out of rehab, everyone," he told the crowd during the Atlantic City show. "I got that post-rehab glow. Seventh time's the charm!"
Davidson has also previously addressed earlier stints in rehab in both 2016 and 2020, People reported.