Elon Musk hosted “Saturday Night Live” this week like a man with nothing to lose.
That’s probably because his net worth is $166 billion. What’s a 90-minute-long sketch show to a man with an income greater than some countries’ defense budgets?
But 49-year-old Musk had been under pressure for weeks. He was the most controversial guest host of “SNL” since then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2015.
The Tesla and SpaceX entrepreneur appeared amid a flurry of anger because of his enormous wealth and his early pandemic skepticism. Cast members Andrew Dismukes, Bowen Yang and Aidy Bryant wrote critical tweets leading up to Musk’s gig, and there were reports that they might even opt out of the episode entirely in protest.
The boycott never happened. Yang appeared alongside Musk in multiple segments, the deafening fracas fizzled out and we got yet another mediocre episode of “SNL”
Shockingly, though, Musk was the best part.
The billionaire took the stage of Studio 8H dressed like a James Bond villain, and delivered a scorcher of a stand-up set that was funnier than the entire ensuing hour.
“I’m actually making history tonight as the first host with Asperger’s to host ‘SNL,’” he announced to applause. “Or at least the first to admit it.”
Brilliant. Like his first joke, the others weren’t safe.
“A lot of times people are reduced to the dumbest thing they ever did,” he said, acknowledging that he once smoked pot on Joe Rogan’s podcast.
“It’s like reducing OJ Simpson to murder. One time! Fun fact: OJ also hosted this show in ‘79. And again in ‘96. He killed.”
Then came — ugh — the sketches.
They weren’t any good, but what was remarkable is that Musk — who, as far as I know, never so much as appeared in a high school production of “Guys and Dolls” — held his own with the more experienced cast.
The first was “Generation Z Hospital,” a stupid send-up of twentysomethings and hospital soap operas. He played a doctor that informed a group their pal had died. As a memorial, they passed around an urn with a Supreme logo on it and spoke in annoying youth-isms.
The next one was “The Uli Show,” a kind of “Wayne’s World” airing on Icelandic Public TV with Chloe Fineman and Mikey Day. Once again, Musk was the funniest character as a TV producer named Ragnarok who was in love with Uli.
Later on, he livened up “Weekend Update” as a financial expert attempting to explain cryptocurrencies to Michael Che.
“What is Dogecoin?” Che repeatedly asked him.
“Well, it was created in 2013,” Musk responded.
Prompted again and again, he finally concluded, “It’s an unstoppable financial vehicle that’s going to take over the world.”
“Oh, so it’s a hustle?,” replied Che.
“Yeah, it’s a hustle.”
Toward the end, Musk got silly. He played Wario — Super Mario’s evil counterpart — and cracked Nintendo cocaine jokes.
“SNL” head honcho Lorne Michaels was smart to bring on Musk now that the presidential election is long over and viewers aren’t staying home on Saturday nights as much while restrictions and curfews are lifted. The businessman, like him or not, reeled in viewers that hadn’t tuned into the show in years.
Even if it was an average episode of “Saturday Night Live,” the host was a Musk see.