Elon Musk’s Deceptive and Deeply Awkward SNL Monologue
The Tesla billionaire poked fun at his silly tweets, discussed his Asperger’s, and plugged Dogecoin—with a little help from his mom.
Much ink—and tweets, and more tweets—were spilled prior to Elon Musk’s May 8 hosting stint on Saturday Night Live. When the announcement was made, a number of cast members and writers, Bowen Yang and Aidy Bryant among them, appeared to voice their protestations via social media, owing to the questionable optics of platforming a union-busting billionaire who’s repeatedly spread COVID and vaccine misinformation during the pandemic to his millions of online followers, from claiming there would be “close to zero” COVID cases by April 2020, to pushing hard for reopening the country in the earliest months of the virus’ spread, to questioning the safety of COVID-19 vaccines (he later reversed course after heavy criticism). Others mocked Musk for sharing some incredibly lame “skit ideas for SNL,” including “Woke James Bond” and “Irony Man,” a superhero who “defeats villains using the power of irony.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal quote-tweeted the Tesla CEO’s “skit ideas” post with, “Pay your fair share of taxes,” while the watchdog group Public Citizen replied, “How about you do a skit where you donate the $126,000,000,000 you added to your wealth during the pandemic?”
In the lead-up to Musk’s appearance, co-head writer Michael Che and cast member Pete Davidson attempted to pour cold water on the controversy, with Che saying he was “excited” to have Musk host, and Davidson, who’d attended a cast dinner with Musk, Lorne Michaels, and several other SNL players, offering, “I just don’t understand why this is the dude everyone’s so freaked out about… I was like, 'What did he do? He’s just like, a really wealthy businessman that makes, like, nerd shit.’ I don’t know. He’s really nice. I’m excited.”
As for the episode itself, in lieu of a typical cold-open sketch it kicked things off with a moving Mother’s Day tribute song sung by musical guest Miley Cyrus, intercut with SNL cast members and writers embracing their real-life moms.
Then came the monologue. Musk, dressed in all black, began with an admission: “I’m actually making history tonight as the first person with Asperger’s to host SNL—or at least the first to admit it. So, I won’t make a lot of eye contact with the cast tonight. But don’t worry, I’m pretty good at running ‘human’ in emulation mode.” (Though a brave admission, Musk is not the first person with Asperger’s to host SNL—Dan Aykroyd, a former cast member, also has Asperger’s and returned to host the show in 2003.)
He stumbled nervously—albeit somewhat endearingly—through the rest of his scripted speech, sharing his “vision for the future” (“renewable energy” and how “humanity must be a multiplanetary, space-bearing civilization”), and poking fun at his habit of making 4/20 and 69 jokes on Twitter.
“Look, I know I sometimes say or post strange things, but that’s just how my brain works,” said Musk. “To anyone I’ve offended, I just want to say: I reinvented electric cars and I’m sending people to Mars on a rocket ship. Did you think I was also gonna be a chill, normal dude?”
For what it’s worth, it’s a distortion for Musk to say that people have mostly taken issue with his silly pot-smoking and sex jokes on Twitter; rather, people have been critical of his anti-union tweets, the time he accused a hero diver of being a “pedo guy,” mocking gender pronouns, and his aforementioned COVID misinformation-spreading.
Toward the end of the monologue, Musk brought out his mother, Maye.
“I’m excited for my Mother’s Day gift… I just hope it’s not Dogecoin,” she said. “It is,” he replied.
Investors in the parody cryptocurrency had been keeping close watch of Musk’s appearance, hoping a mention of Dogecoin would lead to a dramatic spike in its selling price. But as of writing, Dogecoin is down over 20 percent for the day to under 53 cents.