Musk boosts his brand, and NBCUniversal's, on 'Saturday Night Live'

DETROIT (Reuters) – Billionaire Elon Musk dropped a surprise early in his hotly anticipated turn as host of “Saturday Night Live,” saying in his monologue that he “is the first person with Asperger’s” to host the show, before clowning through skits for the first global livestream of the NBCUniversal comedy show.

FILE PHOTO: SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk laughs after arriving on the red carpet for the Axel Springer award, in Berlin, Germany, December 1, 2020. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/Pool/File Photo

Musk, one of the world’s richest individuals, opened his monologue by telling an audience in more than 100 countries he is “the first person with Asperger’s to host SNL. At least the first to admit it.” The billionaire poked fun at himself, saying “I’m pretty good at running human in emulation mode.”

Asperger syndrome is a condition on the autism spectrum that is associated with difficulty in social interaction, and sometimes is referred to as high functioning autism.

Throughout the show, Musk gently poked fun at himself, including his penchant for provocative tweets and his one-time choice to smoke a joint on a podcast.

“To anyone I’ve offended I just want to say, I reinvented electric cars and send people to Mars on a rocket ship. Did you think I would be a Joe normal dude?”

Musk’s mother, Mae, joined him on stage and the two made a joke about Dogecoin, the cryptocurrency Musk has touted.

Anticipation of Musk’s “Saturday Night Live” appearance excited investors in cryptocurrencies, including Dogecoin, a digital currency with a shiba inu dog as its avatar. Dogecoin prices had surged ahead of Musk’s television appearance.

Musk will keep his day jobs. Still, the “Saturday Night Live” appearance turned out to be an extension of his gigs as “technoking” and Chief Executive of Tesla Inc and head of rocket launch company SpaceX.

Musk got days of attention across all forms of media ahead of the show, and shared the spotlight with a prototype of Tesla’s futuristic Cybertruck that Tesla brought to Manhattan on Friday. Video of the hulking, angular pickup prowling Manhattan streets blew up on social media.

Musk often boasts that Tesla doesn’t spend billions on advertising the way established automakers do. He doesn’t have to so long as he has access to platforms like Twitter or “Saturday Night Live.”

Musk’s appearance also boosted NBCUniversal. The media company used Musk’s global celebrity – and the controversy surrounding his appearance on a stage normally reserved for film stars or professional comedians – to get attention for launching the “Saturday Night Live” franchise beyond the confines of broadcast television. The company said Saturday’s show was streamed live via Alphabet Inc’s YouTube to more than 100 countries.

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