My secret hope is that Elon Musk uses his Saturday Night Live platform this weekend to launch a comedic assault on political correctness so brutal it is seared forever onto the collective retina of the biggest audience the show has had in decades.
Provided he used SNL to tear with equal vigor into each faction of the intersectional oppression spectrum — ethnic minorities, LGBTQIAA+ folk, fat activists, the blue-haired and non-binary, flat-earthers and feminists — and managed while doing so to be undeniably funny, I believe Musk could get away with it. He could also create a cultural moment the value of which as a non-fungible token would be more than perhaps even he could afford.
The consensus view is that Musk, a billionaire who happens to be popular among people on the right, should not have been asked to host SNL. Left-liberal Twitter, in all its blue-checked wisdom, was quick to declare him unfit. Three current SNL cast members — Bowen Yang, Aidy Bryant and Andrew Dismukes — have already, as Decider so slyly puts it, ‘displayed their displeasure.’
Yang took exception to the following Musk tweet.
Let’s find out just how live Saturday Night Live really is 😈
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 25, 2021
‘What the fuck does this even mean?’ snapped Yang, derisively.
Dismukes — funny name, funny guy — shared a photograph of SNL comedian Cheri Oteri saying the ‘ONLY CEO I WANT TO DO A SKETCH WITH IS Cher-E Oteri’.
Bryant, for his part, shared a Bernie Sanders tweet about the ‘moral obscenity’ of the 50 richest Americans owning more wealth than ‘the bottom half of our people.’ How subtle. How radical.
SNL producers are clearly nervous. They’ve told regular cast members they would not be compelled to work on the episode, in case contact with a successful plutocrat might give the woke darlings anxiety issues.
The other line from the po-faced comedy cognoscenti is that Musk isn’t funny. I disagree. I think he is very funny. The problem might be that Musk is too funny for SNL. As I have written before, I think Musk is a mischievous genius and if, having conquered space travel, cryptocurrency, electric vehicles and capitalism before the age of 50, he decides he wants to conquer comedy, I wouldn’t bet against him.
To put it another way, I think the world’s richest man, a Monty Python devotee who in January tweeted ‘legalize comedy!’, has the opportunity to kill. Killing, in case you haven’t listened to as much Joe Rogan as I have during the pandemic, is how comedians refer to the act of making audiences laugh from their bellies. Killing is not a political act, it’s a universal one — a celebration of the manner in which when the ridiculous complexities of the human experience are laid out truthfully before us, the reaction of each of us is to laugh uncontrollably.
The cultural experiment conducted for the last two decades across all mainstream Western media has been desperately tedious, but the results are now in and the findings are unequivocal: ideologue comedians don’t kill (which is why SNL’s ratings are an increasingly bad joke). Only comedians free of fear of being canceled for expressing an idiosyncratic worldview kill. Which is why SNL was once great and why it is now mostly terrible.
Take, for example, Mr ‘What The Fuck Does That Even Mean’ Yang, SNL’s much heralded first gay Asian comedian. His sketch in March following the Atlanta shooting, in which six Asians and two white people were murdered — a crime for which there is no evidence of racial motivation — was toe-curlingly bad.
After lamenting ‘things for Asians have been bleak in this country for the past two weeks and all the weeks before that since forever’, Yang suggested viewers ‘amplify Asian voices who want more Paneras in north Brooklyn’,’call your senators and demand they know about the lesbian characters in Sailor Moon‘ and to ‘let me know when you feed your white kids chicken feet’.
Clearly, the people watching in the studio didn’t know what the culturally appropriate, and therefore ‘correct’ response to what they were seeing was meant to be — nor whether it was meant to be serious or funny. As a result, their nervous tittering sounded fearful rather than joyful.
By contrast, Musk really is a funny guy. Someone has to be the richest person on the planet. Would we rather it was a terminally bland corporate droid, a terrifying Middle Eastern dictator, or a man who made the nose cone of his Starship rocket more pointy after watching Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator? I know which I’d choose, and that’s before the unfathomable but nevertheless very funny monkeying he does constantly with the price of dogecoin.
Musk, it is worth remembering, was only prevented with the threat of copyright infringement by Ford from putting out a Tesla Model E. He wanted to do it so Tesla’s fleet rage spelled SEXY. Is this something we can imagine Jeff Bezos or even the newly divorced Bill Gates doing?
Go on, Elon. Kill it.