Long before stepping onstage at Studio 8H, Elon Musk has become the most controversial host of Saturday Night Live’s current season. On Saturday, NBC announced that the Tesla and SpaceX CEO will host the May 8 episode alongside musical guest Miley Cyrus. Musk was perceived as an unconventional choice following recent emcees such as Dan Levy, Regina King, Regé-Jean Page, and Carey Mulligan.
In the hours after his hosting gig was announced, the self-described “Technoking” ambiguously tweeted, “Let’s find out just how live Saturday Night Live really is,” alongside a devil emoji.
SNL cast member Bowen Yang seemingly addressed the tweet on his Instagram Story, sharing a screenshot of Musk’s comment with the caption, “What the fuck does this even mean” per TVLine. New cast member Andrew Dismukes, who was promoted to featured player after writing for SNL since 2017, reportedly addressed Musk’s upcoming gig as well: “Only CEO I wanna do sketch with is Cher-E Oteri,” he wrote on his own story.
The Washington Post noted that veteran cast member Aidy Bryant also appeared to reference Musk after his hosting stint was announced by sharing a screenshot of a Bernie Sanders tweet, which read, “The 50 wealthiest people in America today own more wealth than the bottom half of our people. Let me repeat that, because it is almost too absurd to believe: the 50 wealthiest people in this country own more wealth than some 165 MILLION Americans. That is a moral obscenity.” Musk is one of the 50 wealthiest people in America. (Both TVLine and the Post reached out to NBC for comment.)
This is far from the first time the long-running sketch-comedy series has booked a contentious guest. In 2018, Kanye West wore a Make America Great Again hat on SNL and made a speech supporting Donald Trump that wasn’t broadcast during his time as a musical guest. When Trump himself hosted the show in 2015, 9 million people reportedly tuned in to see the spectacle—giving SNL its highest ratings “in years,” according to the Post.
In the time since Trump’s ill-received hosting stint, though, several Saturday Night Live cast members have denounced the show’s decision to invite him on. Taran Killam, who left the series in August 2016, told NPR that “it was rough” when Trump hosted. “It was not enjoyable at the time and something that only grows more embarrassing and shameful as time goes on,” he continued, adding that anyone who protested the episode “was absolutely right.” Current cast member Colin Jost said writing for Trump was “a very strange experience” while on The Deciding Decade With Pete Buttigieg podcast. “The show itself on just a comedy level, I would argue, was pretty bad.”
Believe it or not, Trump was also on hand to host Saturday Night Live in 2004 during his reign as The Apprentice host. “I remember when Trump hosted for the first time for The Apprentice, and we, as a cast, were like, ‘Fuck. This sucks. I don’t want to be here for this,’” Maya Rudolph told Vanity Fair earlier this year. Fellow former cast member Seth Meyers told Howard Stern in 2019 that Trump’s first hosting gig “was everything you would think,” adding, “He didn’t have any sense of humor, but if things worked [with the audience], he liked them.”
More Great Stories From Vanity Fair
— Cover Story: Anya Taylor-Joy on Life Before and After The Queen’s Gambit
— Zack Snyder Explains His Long-Awaited Justice League Ending
— Tina Turner Is Still Haunted by Her Abusive Marriage
— Emilio Estevez’s True Hollywood Stories
— Armie Hammer Accused of Rape and Assault
— Why Black Panther Is Key to Understanding The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
— 13 Oscar-Nominated Movies You Can Stream Right Now
— From the Archive: Meet the Real-Life Teen Burglars Who Inspired The Bling Ring
— Serena Williams, Michael B. Jordan, Gal Gadot, and more are coming to your favorite screen April 13–15. Get your tickets to Vanity Fair’s Cocktail Hour, Live! here.