themighty logo

Pete Davidson Calls Crowd at Florida College Comedy Set the R-Word

On Monday, Pete Davidson was a featured performer during a University of Central Florida (UCF) comedy show. Instead of delivering laughs, the comedian went on an expletive-filled rant against those using their phones in the crowd, which included using the R-word.

Davidson was booked as part of the university’s Pegasus Palooza, a week-long slate of activities to celebrate the first week of school. After two opening acts, Davidson took the stage where he berated students in the audience who were recording his set on their phones despite attendee reports there was no signage indicating phone use wasn’t allowed.

He lamented “flying all the way to the middle of nowhere” (Orlando, Florida) and called the assembled crowd “privileged little a**holes,” who were an embarrassment to their generation.

“That’s why we’re embarrassing,” the 25-year-old comedian said. “That’s why the world is going to end in 25 years…Idiots. You should f*cking grow up.” He added, “Yeah, I meant it that way.”

In the middle of his tirade, Davidson also called the crowd the R-word, an incredibly offensive and hurtful term to the disability community. Another Twitter user said later in the set Davidson also used the term “lame.”

You can watch a video of Davidson’s rant here, but know it includes explicit, offensive and hurtful language you may want to skip:

It’s not the first time Davidson used offensive language in his comedy. According to Radar Online, during a January comedy gig Davidson used the R-word repeatedly before acknowledging the word was offensive, followed by an exclamation of “I don’t care!” In the same set, he joked about pedophilia.

Though the R-word is most often leveled at people with intellectual disabilities, it has also been used against people with mental illnesses. Davidson, who is open about living with borderline personality disorder, may feel entitled to use the term. Some also defended or wrote off Davidson’s behavior and language as “dark” comedy, but the R-word comes with a painful legacy of abuse and discrimination designed to strip people with disabilities of their humanity.

On social media, disability advocates provided additional context and asked others not to support celebrities like Davidson who use offensive language in any setting.

Twitter user Maddie wrote:

These words have an extremely dark history. They are ableist terms used to continuously oppress people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. These terms were used as diagnoses for people with disabilities (PWD) for many many years, and made is socially acceptable to put them in institutions where physical, mental, and sexual abuse is/was common. That abuse hasn’t ended, in today’s society PWD experience abuse at a significantly higher rate compared to people without disabilities.

“Takeaway message: don’t support celebrities that utilize harmful language in their daily lives, and especially not in their work,” Maddie concluded. “This language ISN’T funny and has serious negative affects on people with disabilities.”

A UCF spokesperson issued a statement, according to BuzzFeed News, expressing disappointment in Davidson’s “derogatory” language:

Mr. Davidson’s abusive language, particularly his use of a derogatory slur, is contrary to the University of Central Florida’s values of inclusion and respect for all. It’s disappointing that his rant spoiled an event that was meant to welcome students back for the fall semester.

Header image via Facebook/@urdisabilitygal