I watched Elon Musk host ‘Saturday Night Live’ so you wouldn’t have to.

Saturday Night Live
Elon Musk & Miley Cyrus
May 8, 2021

When it was announced a few weeks back that controversial billionaire industrialist and huckster Elon Musk was going to host Saturday Night Live, the general sentiment was “WHY?” and “HIM?” and “OH NO!” and “HAS SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE LOST ITS DAMN MIND?” A few cast members and writers registered their displeasure and Twitter wrung its hands, while Musk’s supporters and investors in his cryptocurrency, Dogecoin cheered, and the whole thing blew up into the exact controversy that Saturday Night Live‘s producers hoped it would become. They’d get their ratings from the rubberneckers; Musk would get to whitewash his reputation and promote Dogecoin, and everyone would win except for the viewers who (perhaps foolishly) expect a comedy show to be, you know, funny.

Many many many thousands of words have been written by many many many other better writers explaining why people were upset Musk hosted last night, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. Instead, I will just note as a person who has been writing about and reviewing this show for ten years now, this is the worst episode I’ve been forced to sit through, and I was here for the January Jones debacle. Musk, as most people noted when he was announced as the host, was not just not funny, he was so awkward that he made the audience feel awkward. The only sketches that worked at all were the ones in which he had a minimal presence. Musk was so terrible last night, that the cryptocurrency he sought to boost, actually lost value. A lot of value.

The whole thing was a hot disaster, and I hold out a shred, a sliver of hope that Saturday Night Live will learn from it and not invite other human garbage to host their show in the future — but in my heart of hearts, I know damn well that will never happen.

The cold open does away with a sketch altogether, and instead features Miley Cyrus singing Dolly Parton’s “Light of a Clear Blue Morning,” interrupted by each of the cast members and their mothers telling cheesy jokes. It’s well-intentioned, but not at all funny, leaving your trusty blogger watching through gritted teeth.

Grade: CRINGE.

Elon Musk’s monologue … guh. He talks about his space goals, jokes about being a cyborg, not being a “chill normal dude,” and his kid’s stupid name among other things. He also claims he’s the first host to have Asperger’s (technically, he is not).

Musk’s mother, who looks like a very elegant supervillain in a Disney movie, joins him to discuss his strange childhood. There, Mother Musk also makes the first — but not the last — joke about Dogecoin of the night, laughing that she hopes her Mother’s Day gift isn’t the cryptocurrency. That should help its value!

Grade: C+

The first sketch of the night is “Gen Z” hospital, a spoof — I think — of General Hospital, except everyone talks like Gen Zers. Or, more accurately, how millennial SNL writers think Gen Zers talk. As the mother of two Gen Z kids, I can assure you that this is not at all how they talk. This is, without exaggerating, the worst sketch of the season, and one of the worst sketches that was not in some way blatantly sexist, racist or homophobic, that I have seen since I’ve started recapping this show.

 Grade: F

This digital short imagines the incredibly awkward conversations with other people that none of us are prepared to have once we start going to social gatherings again. I am here to give my testimony: I went to my first event about two weeks ago and it was so hard, y’all. Hard and bad and clumsy. Our brains have turned to mush and we all must be very gentle with each other out there.

Grade: A-

“The Ooli Show” is an Icelandic talk show hosted by a cartoonish Chloe Fineman character, who interviews Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, and Björk, while her producer/cousin played by Elon Musk hits on her. The entire thing, like Ooli herself, is loud, annoying, and not funny. Terrible job, everyone!

Grade: D-

As I am sure I’ve mentioned here before, I am married to a man who was born and raised in Philadelphia, so I am well-acquainted with the city’s very unique and impossible to imitate accent. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will never ever be able to say “water” or “gas” in a Philadelphian accent. So it came as a delightful surprise to the Odell household that HBO’s new prestige drama, Mare of Easttown takes place in a Philadelphian suburb and that the actors have dedicated themselves to trying to pull off the Philly accent. It clearly delighted the SNL writers, too, because they wrote an entire sketch lovingly mocking the accent, and Philadelphians in general, and I am here for every single second of it.

Tens across the board.

Grade: A++

“Weekend Update” has a few very good jokes, all at Former President Damppants’ and his supporters, expense. The swipes at Musk are toothless, though, but Che’s joke about aliens not getting on rich white people’s ships is solid.

Grade: B+

Ego Nwodim is “Pauline, a Weary Mother in her Darkest Hour,” a mother back from her trip to Disney World with her children, and she is DONE. Ego, I FEEL THIS IN MY BONES.

Grade: A

Musk then appears at the desk as Lloyd Ostertag, a financial expert there to explain Dogecoin. The joke is that he can’t, and then when Che asks him if it is a “hustle,” Musk, as Ostertag, admits it’s a hustle.

COMPLETELY UNRELATED I AM SURE: Dogecoin’s value dropped some 25% when this aired.

Grade: C-

For some goddamned reason, we bring back Kyle Mooney’s Baby Yoda. Just stop, guys. Stop it. No one likes this.

Grade: C-

Honestly, it’s hard to rank the three worst sketches of the night, but this bit in which Wario, played by Elon Musk, goes on trial for murdering Mario, is giving “The Ooli Show” a run for its money for second place. Filled with dumb Mario Bros. jokes, Italian-American stereotypes, and Grimes as a Princess Peach who looks like she’s seen better days, this sketch is the one that sent me to bed before the episode ended. Woof.

Grade: D-

Pete Davidson’s “Chad” is now an astronaut tasked with saving a mission to Mars. OK.

Grade: B-

The final sketch of the night finds a group of cowboys in the Old West debating the best way to deal with a dangerous gang of outlaws, but in reality is the obligatory, “Look, the weirdo billionaire whose PR team talked his way onto Saturday Night Live for no good goddamned reason can laugh at himself!” bit we all knew was coming. Musk’s character is the “electric horse guy” who suggests that they tunnel their way underneath their foes, before suggesting they create their own currency based on “whatever we say it’s based on” (that sound you hear is the value of Dogecoin dropping another 5%) and admitting that he didn’t wear a mask to a bank robbery, because he “thought masks were dumb.”

Thoughts and prayers to the entire writing staff who had to write this apologist crap and the cast members who had to perform in it.

Grade: C-


Final Grade: C-. That Mare of Easttown spoof really saved your asses, guys.

Saturday Night Live airs at 10:30/11:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC.

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