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Elon Musk reveals he has Asperger’s syndrome during SNL monologue
Hosting Saturday Night Live on May 8, Tesla CEO and SpaceX founder Elon Musk poked fun at himself in an episode airing on the eve of Mother's Day. (Joshua Carroll/The Washington Post)
ByEmily Yahr
May 8, 2021 at 10:54 p.m. PDT
The stars of “Saturday Night Live” were well aware that there was plenty of controversy leading up to Tesla CEO and SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s stint as host — and made sure to address it during the broadcast.
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“A space rocket that was spinning out of control just minutes ago crashed into the ocean. And for once, we know it’s not Elon’s fault,” Colin Jost said during “Weekend Update,” referencing the debris from a Chinese space rocket booster that reentered the Earth’s atmosphere over the Indian Ocean. “A lot of people have been wondering: Why is he hosting our show? And now we know it’s because he needed an alibi.”
Indeed, that was a question ever since the controversial billionaire — who gained even more notoriety recently by spreading misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic and downplaying the risks — was announced as SNL host. Even several cast members did not seem thrilled about this decision, and a source told Page Six that creator Lorne Michaels would excuse anyone who didn’t want to participate in the episode.
SNL announced Elon Musk as a host. The disgust on Twitter may be just what the show is after.
Yet even though Musk tried to tease that something controversial might happen (“Let’s find out just how live ‘Saturday Night Live’ really is,” he tweeted with a devil emoji), the show proceeded mostly as usual. After a very earnest Mother’s Day opening sketch, in which the cast appeared with their moms as musical guest Miley Cyrus sang a cover of her godmother Dolly Parton’s “Light of a Clear Blue Morning,” Musk arrived for his monologue.
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“I’m actually making history tonight as the first person with Asperger’s to host SNL,” he said, to much applause from the audience. “Or at least the first to admit it. So I won’t make a lot of eye contact with the cast tonight. But don’t worry, I’m pretty good at running ‘human’ in emulation mode.”
This announcement — which appears to be the first time Musk has publicly said he is on the autism spectrum — got plenty of pickup online Saturday night. Although many social media users quickly corrected Musk’s assertion that he was the first and pointed out that former SNL cast member Dan Aykroyd, who returned to host in 2003, has spoken out over the years about his Asperger’s diagnosis as a child.
Then Musk attempted to explain his tweets, known to have quite an impact on the stock market. “Look, I know I sometimes say or post strange things, but that’s just how my brain works. To anyone I’ve offended, I just want to say: I reinvented electric cars and I’m sending people to Mars on a rocket ship. Did you think I was also going to be a chill, normal dude?”
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After some jokes about a “shocking” thing he could say on the live broadcast (“I drive a Prius”) and how to pronounce his son’s name (“X Æ A-Xii,” or “cat running across keyboard”), he brought out his mother, Maye Musk, to talk about what he was like as a kid. She confirmed that he created a video game at age 12 in which a spaceship battled aliens.
“You turned that video game about space into reality,” she said.
“Unless you consider that our reality may be a video game and we’re all just computer simulations being played by a teenager on another planet,” Musk countered.
Musk appeared in nearly every other sketch, playing everyone including Mario universe character Wario; one of many socially awkward attendees at a party post-quarantine; and a guilty priest in a parody of HBO’s latest crime drama, “Mare of Easttown.” (This one was called “Murdur Durdur” and described as an “extremely Pennsylvania crime show.”)
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He also appeared on “Weekend Update” as a financial adviser, and Jost and Michael Che repeatedly demanded to know an explanation for Dogecoin, the meme-based cryptocurrency that counts Musk among its biggest fans.
“It’s the future of currency. It’s an unstoppable financial vehicle that’s going to take over the world,” Musk explained.
“I get that, but what is it, man?!” Che asked.
“I keep telling you, it’s the crypto currency you can trade for conventional money,” Musk explained.
“Oh, so it’s a hustle?” Che said.
“Yeah,” Musk said. “It’s a hustle.”
Read more:
Some SNL cast members aren’t happy about Elon Musk. He’s part of a long tradition of disliked hosts.
Elon Musk is being brought in to save SNL’s sagging ratings. He could sink the show in other ways.
Bowen Yang steals SNL playing the iceberg that sank the Titanic
Emily Yahr is an entertainment reporter for The Washington Post. She joined The Post in 2008 and has previously written for the Boston Globe, USA Today, the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader and the American Journalism Review.
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