Elon Musk declared himself to be the first person with Asperger syndrome to host “Saturday Night Live” in the opening of his May 8 monologue.
“Or at least the first person to admit it,” he said on stage at Studio 8H.
Musk identified casually and then followed it up with a joke, noting that he’s “pretty good at running human emulation mode.” Musk also noted that he doesn’t have a lot of “intonational variation in how I speak, which I’m told makes for great comedy.”
Wearing an all-black dark suit and black T-shirt, the South African billionaire joked about his reputation as a genius, disruptor, entrepreneur as well as a proponent of sketchy digital economy trends such as crypto-currencies.
He discussed his vision for the future — specifically a “renewable energy” one and that he believed “humanity must become a multi-planatary space-bearing civilization.” Because these goals sounded positive, he added that, “I think if I just posted THAT on Twitter I’d be fine.” Instead, though, he noted jokes he has made such as, “69 days after 420, haha.” He wrote “haha” at the end because he thought it was funny, he said. “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 think I was also going to be a chill, normal dude?”
Musk also joked about his son’s name, saying it’s “pronounced like a cat running across a keyboard,” and lamented the volume of chatter about him in media and social media circles. “People are reduced to the dumbest thing they ever did,” Musk said, referring to the September 2018 incident when he was seen smoking marijuana while appearing on the podcast hosted by Joe Rogan. He made a surprising comparison of his reputation to that of accused double murderer O.J. Simpson. Musk joked that it was “like I go from podcast to podcast lighting up joints. It’s like reducing O.J. Simpson to murderer.” He noted that Simpson hosted “SNL” twice — and “killed it.”
Musk has been scolded by regulators for his pronouncements about his publicly held businesses in unusual channels for a CEO. He joked about “SNL” being live and the risk that posed for him.
“I could say something truly shocking — like I drive of Prius,” he said.
And although he did not appear in the special Mother’s Day cold open, he brought his mother Maye Musk onstage for a special spotlight moment during his monologue.
She played straight woman to her 49-year-old son, with their banter including a prompt to position him as a boy genius.
“Do you remember when I was 12 I created my own video game?,” he asked.
“I remember they paid you $500. You were too young to open a bank account so I had to open one for you,” she said. Beaming, she added, “You turned that video game about space into reality.”
He indulged his penchant for fantasy in observing, “Our reality might be a video game and we’re all just computer simulations being played by a teenager on a another planet.”
The segment undoubtedly was crafted in part to temper critics of the billionaire as out of control. Mother and son hugged to close the monologue segment as she gushed, “Break a leg tonight. I love you very much.”
Musk made his hosting debut on the May 8 episode of “Saturday Night Live,” which was the first of the three final episodes of the 46th season and the first one back after a few weeks off.
The initial announcement came with criticism, as viewers, critics and even some of the show’s own cast members alike seemed to question the choice of host. In a now-deleted social media post, Aidy Bryant, for example, re-shared a message from Sen. Bernie Sanders which called out the “moral obscenity” of the wealth distribution in America, which also noted “the 50 wealthiest people in America today own more wealth than the bottom half of our people.” Chris Redd retweeted Musk’s post about “throwing out some skit ideas,” pointing out that he should be calling them “sketches,” not skits.
In the week leading up to the show, though, various cast members appeared on talk shows and attempted to smooth over concerns. On “The Breakfast Club,” Michael Che acknowledged that Musk “is a polarizing guy” but said that was what “makes the show interesting.” He also said he felt that if other one-percenters, such as Oprah or Tyler Perry were coming on the show, “we’d all be excited about it.” (Both Oprah Winfrey and Perry do have performing backgrounds, though.) Pete Davidson called Musk “the guy that makes the earth better kinda and makes cool things and sends people to Mars” on “Late Night With Seth Meyers.”
Taking place the night before Mother’s Day, this episode has historically been treated as a Mother’s Day episode, with special songs and sketches dedicated to and often featuring cast members’ mothers.
For the first time ever, “Saturday Night Live” was also live-streamed on YouTube in more than 100 countries.
“Saturday Night Live” airs live coast-to-coast Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. ET / 8:30 p.m. PT on NBC.
Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.