After weeks of anticipation (mostly among denizens of Twitter), Elon Musk finally hosted Saturday Night Live, and it was decidedly not a disaster. On the latest Pivot podcast, Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway discuss Musk’s hosting chops and whether anything he said will lead to an SEC investigation.
Kara Swisher: The internet watched as Elon Musk hosted SNL and his beloved cryptocurrency dogecoin took a tumble. Among the moments on the show, Elon called the cryptocurrency a “hustle:”
Swisher: That sent the steadily climbing stock tumbling, crashing by 30 percent, although the crypto token is still up more than 10,000 percent in price this year. Almost immediately after Elon Musk made his first appearance, Robinhood was forced to pause all crypto trading order updates. As a reminder, Robinhood had to put in place a similar pause back during the GameStop frenzy. But then the next morning Elon tweeted that his space-exploration company, SpaceX, which has contracts with NASA, is still launching a satellite called DOGE-1 on a mission paid for with dogecoin. By the way, this month, the House passed a bill, which is backed by crypto lobbyists, to create a working group to regulate digital assets, which they should be doing — I don’t really care who backs it.
So what do you think, Scott? He was somewhat funny, correct? You were expecting a disaster — we can go to our tape.
Scott Galloway: No, I wasn’t expecting a disaster. Look, I think it’s a huge win for him.
Swisher: Talk about why you think that, because you were critical of this appearance.
Galloway: Look, if you had Annie Leibovitz photograph your daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, little Rachel is going to look gorgeous. It’s going to be great for the family, and Annie Leibovitz’s reputation goes down. So in this instance, Rachel is Elon Musk and Annie Leibovitz is Saturday Night Live. Think about SNL as a concept. For 41 years, it has been one of the greatest amalgams of creativity, writing, set design, courage, the intersection between politics, society, and economy … I mean, I watched The A-Team for two years. I’ve watched Happy Days for five years, Breaking Bad for eight years, Game of Thrones for eight years, and Meet the Press for 20 years, and I’ve been watching SNL for 40 years. What they have pulled off — the talent there is extraordinary.
When Annie Leibovitz shows up to Rachel’s bat mitzvah, Rachel’s going to look great, so it was a huge win for Elon Musk. I mean, talk about likability police. “I have Asperger’s and here’s my mom.” I mean, okay. I thought he was going to talk about his new book on gender balance and personal loss. It’s this huge, huge, huge win for him.
Swisher: He was very fuzzy. He was warm and fuzzy. It was the charming part of Elon, let’s be clear. There’s lots of parts of Elon. And he managed to poke fun at himself. He’s the richest guy in the world.
Galloway: He had a good time.
Swisher: He wore a mask. Did you see that? I was like, “Wow, barn door, horse … ”
Galloway: I was shocked at that. The guy who said in March of last year that by April cases would be at zero, who said the whole panic over the pandemic was stupid and called stay at home orders fascist… Anyways, a huge win for him. He came across as likable. He was the least funny person who’s ever been on that program but he’s absolutely the funniest founder of an automobile company.
Swisher: What I was saying to you last week was that he’s a very funny guy. Most of these people are humorless.
Galloway: No, he’s got a good sense of humor.
Swisher: It’s juvenile at some points, but it’s actually … What I kept thinking was, “Oh my God. He put on another costume, yet another costume.” He was game.
Galloway: And you know what? It looked like he was enjoying himself. Good for him. It was a nice moment. I thought it was really nice with his mom.
Swisher: The only thing that got my attention was when he said, “To the moon,” and I think … There’s a lot of different memes going on, my son informs me, but do you think the SEC will investigate that? I don’t think so.
Galloway: No. Everything about that show was forgettable. The thing we will see over and over in hearings is when Elon Musk said it’s a hustle.
And if you look at the volatility of dogecoin in the last week, it doubled and we’re talking about an increase in $30 or $40 billion in market capitalization. And then it peaked that day. And then by the time “Weekend Update” came on, it had lost the value of Clorox. I mean, it went down $20, $30 billion. But it’s free speech, so I don’t know how you go after him for that. One of the criticisms of dogecoin is that it has no business use, but at the same time, if he starts launching rockets and people pay in doge to launch their satellites, that creates a business-use case.
Swisher: It was a joke, and he could say it was a joke.
Someone asked me, “What other person could pull this off among the billionaires?” Bezos, maybe. Mark Zuckerberg has been on SNL just for a second — he stood next to Jesse Eisenberg when The Social Network came out. He could never do it. Tim Cook, forget it. Jobs is the only one who I think could actually pull it off, and he’s not living, obviously. Maybe Gates because he’s such a goofball kind of thing. But I’m trying to think of who would be any good. Sergey Brin?
Galloway: Well, yeah, that’s the point. The point is when you have Dave Chappelle or you have Adele, you have incredible artists, there’s this nitroglycerin of creativity and artisanship that is fantastic. I think when you bring on Donald Trump or George Steinbrenner or Mayor Giuliani, it’s great for them. I don’t think it’s great for the show or great for comedy, but anyway.
Swisher: I don’t think this was bad for the show.
Galloway: Well, it was a big part of the conversation. Have you seen the ratings? I’m very curious what the ratings are.
Swisher: It’s the third-highest-rated show of the season, besides Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock.
Galloway: Good for them.
Swisher: Yeah, it did very well.
Galloway: The PR team at Tesla should be feeling very good about themselves.
Pivot is produced by Rebecca Sananes.
This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.