By on May 10, 2021

I watched Elon Musk on Saturday Night Live and it was just…fine?

The much-discussed episode wasn’t a disaster, nor was it a great and memorable evening of comedy. It’s just something that happened. Something that will likely be more or less forgotten by Memorial Day.

Look, we can argue all day about whether SNL should’ve even given Musk the platform, considering his past controversies. If I were Lorne Michaels, I probably wouldn’t have.

I also understand, and at least partially agree with, the argument that allowing Musk to make fun of himself and toss off apologies for things like his poor take on wearing a mask during the pandemic allows him to be “humanized” and whitewashes some of his more terrible actions.

That said, to be fair to Musk, the actual episode itself was unremarkable. And evaluating his ability to host a comedy show for one evening is separate from arguing whether he should’ve been offered the gig in the first place.

I had plans on Saturday with people I hadn’t seen in a year — seriously folks, get vaccinated — so I DVR’d the episode. I did check in on the Twitter reaction Saturday night and Sunday morning and it was a bit brutal, especially from the automotive press. And while I’ve been as harsh on Musk as anyone, I wanted to be fair. I suspect some of my peers went hard after Musk because he’s said and done some pretty awful things (the AVClub has a nice rundown in its review of the episode), and because they didn’t want him hosting the show (which, again, is separate from his actual performance).

Since there was no stopping the show, I figured I might as well give up part of my Sunday to watch. Maybe it would be a slow-moving trainwreck of television. It turned out to be, well, I am not sure exactly what, but it wasn’t a waste of my time.

Nor was it terribly newsworthy, save for dogecoin cryptocurrency taking a dip after Musk joked about it on the show.

From a car perspective, perhaps the biggest “news” to come out of the episode was a bit of what could be subtle trolling by Lucid, which advertised the Lucid Air during the first commercial break, and references to Gen Z Millennials crashing Hellcats during the first sketch. He also joked in his monologue that he actually drove a Prius.

Other than that, it was sort of what one might expect. Ever the showman, Musk has done TV before, though not live sketch comedy, as far as I know. So he seemed nervous at points, but he was willing to poke fun at himself and Tesla (though Tesla did manage some product placement). He was better in the filmed sketches, presumably because he had multiple takes to get it right, and he seemed to avoid working with the cast members who’d criticized his booking on social media in the weeks leading up to the show.

Elon Musk did SNL. At worst, a few people who didn’t know much about him came away with a more positive view of him, without knowing about his past. At best, those of us who are harsh on Elon were able to laugh with him a little while still remembering all the bad things he’s said and done.

I walked away with the same opinion of Musk I’ve long held — he’s a smart man who has a cult-like following, a showman’s sensibility despite some awkwardness, and who has done and said things that very much deserve to be called out.

Sometimes you remember an SNL episode because the host was funny throughout, or terrible, or swore live on air. And sometimes you get an episode that caused controversy for two weeks before it aired yet ended up being mostly forgettable. And with the exception of two filmed sketches that were centered around main cast members more than Musk, this episode will soon be stuffed down the memory hole.

Or should I say stuffed down the Hyperloop tunnel?

[Image: Tesla]

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26 Comments on “Elon Musk on SNL: Controversial Host Was Mostly Unremarkable, Unless You Own Dogecoin...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I didn’t know about Musk’s Asperger’s until I watched the opening yesterday. He is always nervous on stage, and that partially explains it.

    For me, the irony is that so many people (SNL and otherwise) cancel Musk while claiming to be edgy open-minded progressives. If SNL can only utilize ‘acceptable’ people, then they have declined more than I thought.

    I mostly cringed through the opening, but his reference to OJ Simpson was hilarious. It’s not like SNL has ever had a squeaky-clean cast or hosts, so why should Mr Musk’s appearance be any different?

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      I actually meant to mention that other past hosts have been problematic. That said, you can easily argue that Musk’s transgressions are worse than most of what celebs have done. Except, of course, OJ.

      • 0 avatar

        Asperger’s would explain many of his ton deaf comments that he’s made in the past.

        “Inability to recognize humor, irony, and sarcasm
        Inappropriate behaviors or odd mannerisms
        Problems expressing empathy, controlling emotions, or communicating feelings
        Lack of common sense”

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        “you can easily argue that Musk’s transgressions are worse than most of what celebs have done.”

        Hardly – not to me, anyway. Saying outrageous or offensive things is only the start with the Hollywood set. Their record for substance abuse, violence, money and tax issues, broken relationships, law-breaking, and other poor choices far exceed Musk’s shenanigans.

      • 0 avatar
        Daniel J

        I normally don’t comment directly to EIC on an article unless I feel that it wasn’t labeled as opinion when it was really an opinion.

        “transgressions worse than most of what celebs have done….”

        I can’t figure out if this is a terrible take or if this is really is the morality of the EIC.

        Celebrities first, include Hollywood, public types, and star atheletes.

        Even excluding OJ, there are celebrities that have cheated, committed fraud, committed violent felonies, drunk driving, sexual assault, domestic violence…and on and on. Yes, the SEC slapped him for his stock nonsense.

        Maybe I’m ignorant of Elon Musk, but I haven’t seen anything reported where he’s done any of that.

        This “smells” more of something akin to TDR. I mean, I don’t care for Elon all that much, but there are many celebrities that have done far worse things. There are celebrities who have far more influence than him who choose to peddle un-informed opinions onto culture and politics which “can” be far more dangerous than the shenanigans that Musk has pulled.

  • avatar

    If your investments are triggered by a joke on TV, then maybe you should reconsider your portfolio.

    • 0 avatar

      Wait, there was a joke on SNL?

    • 0 avatar

      Welcome to Dystopia…

      A bunch of idiots running around indoctrinated to believing there are such things as “smart” ways to pick random numbers. Never mind the randoms bouncing around randomly. While self promoting clowns playing with battery toys; or even stupider clowns babbling about “up! up! up!” and “boom” and “bullshit and beer” or “bulls and bears”; say something so undifferetiatedly idiotic that the polite among us can only refer to it as jokes. Out of kindness, and a profound sense of pity for the apes. Not to mention the hapless drones who fall for the idiocy.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I’m glad that the other auto manufacturers had the smarts to buy some ad time on SNL for their EV’s. Ford for its Mach-e and GM for its new line of EV’s.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I’m not a Musk fan, but I thought it was a pretty solid episode. The cast gave his recognized limitations a lot of leeway. The Dogecoin segment was hilarious, probably because I’m not bright enough to understand the entire bitcoin gig/scam.

    • 0 avatar

      I guess I’m not the only one that doesn’t get the bitcoin thing!

      • 0 avatar

        A couple of the mainstream coins have real purposes in that they are used for financial transactions. For example visa is using ethereum for some transactions.

        Blockchain itself can be useful outside of the financial world. For example instead of financial transactions, you might want to secure the digital transactions that occur on a vehicle platform in order to secure it from hackers. For me, testing the waters by developing crypto software is a way of gaining experience in order to secure AV systems. Especially if my autonomy systems are involved in defense where there absolutely will be attempts to compromise it. Instead of trading coin value, its commands to move the controls of the various motors throughout the vehicle or data from sensors.

        I wouldn’t rule out vehicle security being the underly reason for musks interest in blockchain. Not ruling it in either.

    • 0 avatar

      Bitcoin isn’t really all that difficult to understand.

      Fundamentally it boils down to “how do you transfer money from one person to another?”

      Normally, the way you do this is by walking into a bank, handing the bank the money, then your bank calls up another bank and that second bank hands the same amount of money to the person you want to give the money to. As some future date, your bank pays back the second bank.

      The way bitcoin changes this is simple. Instead of walking into a bank, you and the person you want to give money to agree on a medium of exchange between yourselves. Then you write down the transaction in a journal that everyone has access, but both your names are encrypted so that only each of you can verify that it was you. Like putting a fingerprint on it.

      What makes bitcoin special is how you figure out what the medium should be. With bitcoin, a computer comes up with a series of numbers that are unique and really hard to fake. That number is a bitcoin So if you have one bitcoin, nobody else can have it. Once you and the guy you are trading with have agreed on what each number is worth, you can then turn your dollars into however many of the bitcoins you need (or fractions of a bitcoin for smaller transactions) do the journal transaction, and then he can take the record that he now owns that bitcoin and turn it back into dollars.

      Which leads to one useful function, transferring money, and some interesting byproduct, value fluctuation.

      Where it becomes a scam is with that second byproduct. Specifically, because the bitcoin is just set at whatever people decide it should be (or more specifically by supply and demand of how many people want one vs how many exist) then the value can go up. So people can speculate by buying bitcoins while they are “cheap” and then waiting for more people to want them (ostensibly for the useful function of trading) which raises the value.

      This has the obvious flaw of “why is the value going up if people can just come up with new numbers”. The answer there is that they can’t. The numbers are really hard to make and they get harder and harder the more you’ve already made. So eventually you’ll run out and have to get one from someone else if you need one.

    • 0 avatar

      To understand the Dogecoin/Bitcoin scam you just need to look at history…

      “Tulip mania (Dutch: tulpenmanie) was a period during the Dutch Golden Age when contract prices for some bulbs of the recently introduced and fashionable tulip reached extraordinarily high levels, and then dramatically collapsed in February 1637. It is generally considered to have been the first recorded speculative bubble or asset bubble in history.”

      Whenever investing in the market if it looks too good to be true think “Tulips”. It’s a strategy that has never failed me. I’m not a billionaire, but I’m not exactly poor either

  • avatar

    Elon Musk is evil and Tesla must be stopped – primarily because TSLA doesn’t buy pop-up ads on – and Tim Healy is just the man for the job.

    • 0 avatar


      • 0 avatar

        Let’s see if the NTSB preliminary report on the Houston crash gets reported here. There is video of the driver getting into the driver’s seat and the accident occurred only 550′ from the owner’s home. NTSB also drove a similar P100D on the street where the accident occurred and was unable to engage autopilot.

  • avatar

    I thought the episode was pretty forgettable. Musk having Asperger’s definitely explains a lot.

    I really think everyone is overreacting on him being a controversial personality. He is the CEO of a company or two. Its not like he is the leader of the free world. Also, I think by most people’s standards, the cast of SNL is probably considered rich. Why should it matter that he is way richer? Pot calling kettle black.

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