Elon Musk’s highly anticipated debut on Saturday Night Live has received mixed reviews from viewers and critics, with some social media users praising it as “amazing” and others slamming it as “painfully unfunny”.
The Tesla and SpaceX founder’s guest appearance on the long-running NBC sketch comedy show was live-streamed on YouTube internationally for the first time, reflecting the huge interest.
The 49-year-old tech billionaire used his opening monologue to describe himself as the first person with Asperger’s to host the show – although many pointed out that was incorrect, citing Ghostbusters actor Dan Aykroyd – and appeared in several sketches as various characters, including a “Gen Z hospital” doctor, a “genius cowboy”, and the video game character Wario.
In one segment, playing a “financial expert” on a TV news broadcast, Musk tried to explain cryptocurrency the confused host before claiming that dogecoin was “a hustle” – causing the price of the meme coin to plummet more than 25 per cent.
“SNL is so unfunny dogecoin is tanking,” tweeted OANN host Jack Posobiec.
But Michael Antonelli, market strategist at investment firm Baird, said “bad jokes and no funny memes” causing a dogecoin crash “absolutely makes sense to me”.
“It’s like an earnings miss but for a new era,” he wrote.
What critics said
Recapping the show, Vulture’s Matthew Love gave the episode two stars.
“The show wasn’t a disaster,” he wrote.
“The writers did well to play directly to Musk’s stilted delivery, writing characters that enjoyed the same sort of conversational awkwardness. Musk doesn’t come across like either an egoist or an apologist, though he does want some credit for being a big dreamer.”
But he suggested that Musk was simply using the show as a platform to rehabilitate his controversial reputation.
“He doesn’t need the attention,” he wrote.
“But like Steve Forbes, George Steinbrenner, and Donald Trump before him, Musk got on the 8H stage to tell a couple of self-deprecating jokes for an ego boost and some possible image rehabilitation among those who find his act as bad-boy scion of industry a bit grating.”
Entertainment Weekly’s Andy Hoglund was also critical of SNL for allowing Musk to host.
“On the one hand, having Hollywood’s latest It boy or girl waltz out, peddling their product, reduces SNL to mere PR,” he wrote.
“And it’s just such a boring trope. Clearly having someone non-traditional stand on 8H’s stage is a net positive, somehow. And yet, the disdain for the audience can’t be ignored either.”
Former SNL cast member Jeff Richards, recapping the show with Entertainment Weekly, said, “Musk is killing it. I mean comedy … After watching this episode I’m considering not buying a Tesla.”
Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Fienberg said that after all the hype, Musk’s SNL debut was more “forgettable than controversial”.
“It was not good, but it wasn’t appreciably worse than four or five other episodes this season,” he wrote.
“Musk was used extensively, and I think I can say with candour that no sketch was better or worse for his presence … Musk’s actual episode was pretty standard C-level stuff that’ll probably get a tiny controversy bump in the ratings and won’t change anybody’s opinion, positively or negatively, about its host.”
What the internet said
Users on social media were less forgiving.
“I’m glad Elon Musk was on SNL because now everyone knows he’s not funny, witty or clever,” one Twitter user wrote. “He really is just some white guy with apartheid money.”
“Elon Musk is so painfully and genuinely unfunny holy st,” another said.
One person asked “how is it possible to make something this unfunny”. “Like, I’m really easy to make laugh, I even laugh at jokes I dislike,” they wrote. “But this is so aggressively unfunny I just didn’t even get the urge to laugh.”
One person posted a sad Joker image, writing, “Me thinking dogecoin was going to make a dollar tonight, but Elon Musk is just being cringe on SNL.”
Another user said, “Every clip I’ve seen of the Elon Musk SNL episode is the worst clip of something I’ve ever seen.”
But many defended the billionaire. “Elong you did amazing!” wrote one fan.
Another said, “Elon Musk just crushed his SNL debut. All the haters who thought he wouldn’t be funny are full of it. The joke is on them. Great job Elon.”
Others were critical of the ageing show itself.
“For anyone tuning into SNL just for Elon – it’s not him – it sucks like this all the time,” wrote comedian and broadcaster Bridget Phetasy.
Conservative journalist Jon Miller wrote, “Somehow Elon Musk managed to be funnier than the entire SNL cast, who trained their entire lives just to be sketch comedian/comediennes and haven’t sent rockets into space and back or running revolutionary electric car companies or infrastructure for hyperloop-based transportation.”
One Twitter user contrasted the show with Musk’s highly watched interview with podcast host Joe Rogan.
“One minute of Joe Rogan’s conversation with Elon Musk is more entertaining than an hour of Saturday Night Live,” they said. “The mainstream press is one of the most wicked propaganda tools on planet Earth.”
Another person added, “Elon musk got people to watch SNL. He has so much heat. I don’t think I’ve heard of someone in real life reference an SNL skit in 15 years.”