Business mogul Elon Musk took to the Saturday Night Live stage this weekend to host the popular late night show, and while no one is going to confuse him with a trained actor anytime soon, he actually did a really solid job in a Charles Barkley just-go-with-it kind of way. His opening monologue was candid and at times even a little touching. He opened up about being the first host with Asperger’s syndrome and even brought his mom on stage. Later, he played a variety of characters including a doctor who only speaks in Gen Z slang, a cowboy who wants to tunnel under the earth for a surprise attack and of course, Mario villain Wario.
The last of those characters generated a lot of conversation online, both because the sketch was pretty funny and because there was something really jarring and amusing about seeing Musk dressed up as a Mario Kart character. That was essentially the point of the sketch. Wario was on trial for having killed Mario, but it all went off the rails when he took the stand to testify. He accused Mario of taking mushrooms and revealed a torrid affair between Luigi and Princess Peach. You can watch the madness below…
The above sketch is a great example of what, I think, makes Saturday Night Live so fun to watch. Who the host is has such a dramatic effect on the tone of the show, and even the same sketch can play very differently based on who is in it. Elon Musk might not be a comedian or even a particularly good actor, but when he’s hosting Saturday Night Live, that’s not really the point, at least not to me. The point is to watch someone without any experience jump into the deep end and try to swim. It adds to the excitement of the live element, and it lets us get to know people in a very different way.
Of course Musk is far from the first non-actor to spend the week at Studio 8H. Saturday Night Live has a long history of bringing in celebrities from other fields to host the popular late night show. From athletes like Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Peyton Manning to politicians like Donald Trump, Al Gore and Ralph Nader to musicians like Miley Cyrus and Adele, the show has never limited itself to trained professionals. I would imagine a lot of people have different criteria for what makes a good athlete or politician or business mogul host, but I think the most important quality is a willingness to jump in and just go with it. Elon Musk certainly did that last night.
It remains to be seen whether we’ll see Elon Musk on SNL again in the future. A lot of it will likely depend on the ratings, how well he got along with the cast and whether he wants to return, but regardless, we’ll always have him dressed up as Wario, smiling and trying not to laugh as he slanders the other Mario characters. Good times.