Elon Musk, one of the most controversial “Saturday Night Live” hosts in years, used the high-profile forum to explain himself and his views, and only occasionally wore a silly costume while doing so.
NBC had drawn criticism for booking the outspoken and uberwealthy SpaceX and Tesla CEO, and a few social media remarks by cast members were interpreted as signals of protest.
“Look, I know I sometimes say or post strange things, but that’s just how my brain works,” Musk said in his monologue opening this week’s episode. “To anyone I’ve offended, I just want to say: I reinvented electric cars and I’m sending people to Mars in a rocket ship. Did you also think I was gonna be a chill, normal dude?”
He cited one example of his bizarre past — when he smoked weed on Joe Rogan’s podcast — and griped that people now think he does that all the time. “It’s like reducing O.J. Simpson to ‘murderer,’ ” he said. “It was one time!”
Already known for his lack of inhibition, the billionaire went for full-on ridiculous over the course of the show, appearing as a doctor speaking slang to get through to Gen-Z, a bespectacled stage manager for an Icelandic TV show pledging his love to its kooky host. and the videogame villain Wario, complete with magenta overalls and zigzag mustache.
But even his character roles at times drew from the man himself. In an Old West saloon, Musk played a man called “LeRon” in duster and bandolier who pushed unconventional ideas about tunnels, alternative currency and electric horses.
Alluding to Musk’s past skepticism about COVID-19, a fellow cowpoke called out LeRon for refusing to wear a mask during a bank robbery.
“OK, for a while I thought masks were dumb,” LeRon replied. “But now I admit masks made sense.”
During Weekend Update, the dogecoin fan played a bowtied financial expert attempting to explain the cryptocurrency to befuddled co-anchor Michael Che. Ultimately he had to agree when Che concluded, “Oh, so it’s a hustle.” (Some investors apparently agreed as well, as dogecoin’s value dropped in the course of the broadcast.)
The most admirable figure Musk played was ... the Elon Musk of the future, running a rescue operation from Earth during a disastrous solar storm at a SpaceX colony on Mars. When Pete Davidson’s blase slacker character Chad took on a suicide mission and succeeded in replenishing the station’s oxygen supply, Musk gravely declared, “I want the world to see the man who gave everything to ensure that humanity’s future will be among the stars.”
But when dimwitted Chad took off his helmet, causing his head to explode, Musk scurried from the room muttering, “I was never here.”