On Friday afternoon, the New York Post flashed this “exclusive” headline on its website: “‘SNL’ cast won’t be forced to appear with controversial host Elon Musk.”
The report cited an unnamed source who told Page Six, “Speaking historically, if a cast member has been that unhappy, they don’t have to do it,” adding that executive producer Lorne Michaels “won’t ever make them do anything they don’t want to do.”
It was a somewhat dubious claim that appeared to be little more than speculation, and also seemed to be news to Saturday Night Live co-head writer and co-anchor of “Weekend Update,” Michael Che. In an Instagram post that he is likely to delete soon, Che posted a screenshot of the Post article, followed by a series of jokes about the outrage over the Tesla billionaire’s hosting gig.
“Does this rule mean I won’t be forced to appear next to Colin anymore?!” Che joked of his co-anchor (and perpetual punching bag) Colin Jost. He then added, “#CancelJost.”
The report comes after several SNL cast members, including Bowen Yang and Aidy Bryant, subtly expressed their frustrations with the decision to have Musk, who has spent much of the past year spreading misinformation about COVID-19, host on social media.
During an appearance on the Tonight Show earlier in the week to promote his new HBO Max sketch series That Damn Michael Che, the comedian addressed the Musk news more directly. “I am excited to meet him,” he told Jimmy Fallon. “But I don’t know if he knows, usually, we have this tradition at Saturday Night Live, it’s customary for the hosts to give like a couple million dollars to the cast members. So if he’s a cool guy maybe he’ll…”
“Keep up the tradition,” Fallon said, finishing his sentence.
As for the idea that SNL cast members could skip an episode in protest of the host, it’s happened before. While no one refused to appear alongside Donald Trump when he hosted in 2015, 25 years earlier, Nora Dunn famously joined with musical guest Sinead O’Connor to boycott the week comedian Andrew Dice Clay was brought in to host.
“My objection to Andrew Dice Clay was that his character was only about one thing: abusing women and laughing about abusing women,” Dunn explained years later. “There was nothing else behind it. There was nothing else about it except to make him look harmless.”
Lorne Michaels declined to extend Dunn’s contract and she did not return for the following season.
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