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Pete Davidson says jokes about 'spray-painted' ex Ariana Grande are 'fair game' in Netflix special

Erin Jensen
USA TODAY

Pete Davidson certainly doesn't sound grateful for his ex.

The stand-up comedian and "Saturday Night Live" cast member penned punchlines about former fiancée Ariana Grande and their breakup for his new Netflix special, "Pete Davidson: Alive From New York" (now streaming), although he repeatedly emphasized that he's joking.

After revisiting the backlash that resulted from comparing then-congressional candidate Dan Crenshaw to "a hit man in a porno movie" in 2018, Davidson pivoted to his relationship with the 26-year-old pop singer.  

"I did make that guy famous and a household name for no reason, right?"  he said of Crenshaw. "I did what Ariana Grande did for me!"

The two went public with their romance in May 2018, but  reports of a broken engagement surfaced in October. 

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The way they were. Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande embrace at the MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 20, 2018 in New York City.

The comic, 26, told the crowd that he would avoid the topic until a friend informed him of comments she made last year. 

"I wasn't gonna do jokes about this, but then my buddy told me, he's like, 'Yo, I've recently heard that Ariana said she had no idea who you were and she just dated you as a distraction,' "Davidson said. "So now I just think it's, like, fair game." 

Davidson warned the crowd not to applaud, explaining, "This isn't a competition. She has her songs and stuff, and this is what I have."

Addressing potential critics, he continued: "And you’re like, 'Pete, this isn’t fair.' You're like, 'You're airing out dirty laundry. How could you do that? Where did she say this stuff? To her friends, in the confidence of her own home?' No, she said it on the cover of Vogue magazine." 

Grande described her ex as "an amazing distraction" to the magazine for its August issue. "It was frivolous and fun and insane and highly unrealistic, and I loved him, and I didn’t know him," she added. "I’m like an infant when it comes to real life and this old soul, been-around-the-block-a-million-times artist. I still don’t trust myself with the life stuff."

"Can you imagine if I did that?" Davidson said onstage. "My career would be over tomorrow if I spray-painted myself brown and hopped on the cover of Vogue magazine and just started (hating) on my ex. Can you imagine?"

He discouraged the resulting applause and said he was after "the giggles. It’s just jokes."

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"If I was just like, 'Yeah, I was just (sleeping with her) her because I was bored, and then Fortnite came out,' it would be insane."

"Again, these are jokes," he reiterated. "My biggest fear is I'm gonna get shot in the back of the head by, like, a 9-year-old with a ponytail, and the last thing I’m gonna hear is, '#cancelled.'"

Setting up his next joke, he offered praise for Grande: "She’s a really powerful woman, that Ariana," he said. "She’s a very, very powerful woman and very smart. You gotta be to be able to ruin Starbucks for a person." (Grande is the 16 oz. drink offered by the coffee chain.)

Davidson said their split was "like any other breakup, except everybody sees it."

Though his "boys" tried to make him feel better about the split, pretending "nobody even knows who she is," they couldn't deny how "catchy" Grande's "Thank U, Next" is. Even the comic's grandpa admitted, "It's a good song."

Davidson is mentioned on the track, and so are  Grande's other exes: rapper Big Sean; her former backup dancer, Ricky Alvarez; and the late rapper Mac Miller.

USA TODAY has reached out to Grande's rep for comment.

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