In a surprise move over the weekend, “Saturday Night Live” announced that business mogul Elon Musk would be hosting the NBC variety show on May 8. Some “SNL” cast members didn’t seem too excited about it.
In an Instagram story, cast member Bowen Yang wrote “what the f— does this even mean?” as a caption to Musk’s tweet from over the weekend which read, “Let’s find out just how live Saturday Night Live really is.”
Andrew Dismuke, another cast member, also took to Instagram to apparently address the choice. He wrote “Only CEO I want to do a sketch with is Cher-E Oteri” over a photo of former “SNL” castmember Cheri Oteri.
NBC did not immediately respond to CNN Business’ request for comment.
Musk, the eccentric CEO of Tesla and one of the richest people on the planet, has courted controversy in the past. This includes comments he made about the coronavirus pandemic last year. In an interview in September, he downplayed the risks of the virus, adding he would not take any future Covid vaccine.
The reactions from some “SNL” cast members are notable, but this isn’t the first time the show has stirred up conversation over its host choices.
The biggest controversy regarding a host came in 2015 when “SNL” announced that Donald Trump would be on the show. The news came while Trump was running for president and after he made remarks saying that many Mexican immigrants were criminals and rapists.
Hispanic groups asked the show to revoke the invite and a Latino group even offered a $5,000 “bounty” to anyone in the audience willing to disrupt the show. There were also protestors outside Rockefeller Center chanting “How do you spell racist? S-N-L.”
Another big flashpoint was when Andrew Dice Clay hosted in 1990. Clay was notorious for sexist jokes, including vulgar nursery rhyme parodies.
This choice led to “SNL” executive producer Lorne Michaels appearing on Nightline to talk about the decision, and cast member Nora Dunn refusing to perform on the show with the controversial comedian.
“Lorne said, ‘Andrew Dice Clay was a phenomenon worth examining.’ And yeah, he was a phenomenon, but if you’re going to examine him, he shouldn’t be the host, you should write an article,” Dunn said in 2015.
Dunn explained that cast members “didn’t examine the hosts of ‘SNL.’ We supported them, we wrote for them, and we made them look good.”
“Otherwise you’d never get a host. You’re there to make them look good,” she said. “‘SNL’ was not capable of handling that kind of stuff and it was a sad moment, but whatever.”
Because of its live nature and cultural impact, “SNL” has many times been a lightning rod for controversy over the years. It’s also had many incidents that have caused a backlash, such as musical guest Sinéad O’Connor infamously ripping up a photo of the Pope and Kanye West going on a rant about Donald Trump as the show ended in 2018.
So, does the choice of Musk on May 8 rise to the level of scrutiny we’ve seen in the past with hosts like Trump and Clay? Likely not.
Yet it appears to be another contentious pick in the long history of one of America’s most storied comedic institutions. And likely one that may get people who normally don’t watch the show to tune in.