Comedy Wrap

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Elon Musk, SNL Host?

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Donald Trump is still banned from social media platforms and Americans, if not the whole world, are enjoying a much needed respite from 24/7 Trump news coverage. How do we know they’ve tuned out of the news? American news media have seen its TV viewership and online traffic plummet. During President Biden’s first 100 days in office, weekly full-day CNN and MSNBC cable ratings have been trending downward according TV industry’s audience metric currency gatekeeper, Nielsen.

So, America is now auditioning new personalities or topics that could serve as an agitator of profitable controversy. Enter Elon Musk. When SNL announced this 49-year-old Tesla CEO would host its Mother’s Day show (5/8/21), it provided some much needed fuel to gin up media faux outrage. The choice of Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, to host SNL left many to suspect this may reverse its ratings slump. For Musk, SNL seemed more like a brand management strategy to rehabilitate some of his public statements or appearances. Whatever the reason, Elon Musk as SNL host proved to be a colossal waste of time.

For those unfamiliar with Elon Musk…many would describe him as the inspiration of Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark character in the Iron Man movies. Others would agree but would quickly add “he’s really socially awkward.”


Depending who you ask, Musk is a media attention seeker willing to tweet trollish or nonsense statements. He’s a self-styled savior of mankind who also downplayed the threat of COVID-19. He’s a white man who thinks he’s funny but who really, really isn’t. Some pundits chided SNL for elevating a figure who has used public platforms to bully and spread misinformation. Others cheered open discourse, pro-capitalism and an opportunity to hear cryptocurrency jokes about Dogecoin. BTW - Musk’s weekend update as financial advisor character, Lloyd Ostertag, admitted that cryptocurrency is a just a “hustle” which resulted in Dogecoin losing 30% of its value.


It’s worth remembering that Musk wields huge influence outside of hype. He commands billions in capital and has credible designs to transform human civilization. Yet when watching him perform sketches with little intrinsic comedic value but lots of self-referentiality, his true significance becomes obscured. He comes across as a celebrity who managed to get enough people to think of him as a celebrity. Critics aren’t wrong to say that this sort of portrayal can be dangerous. The reaction to the episode will cleave into the familiar clans of a culture war—fans and haters—when really the audience should be united in wariness. Comedywrap consensus: Good try but let’s stick with entertainers who have some comedic chops.

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