Back for the first time in almost a month, Saturday Night Live tonight kicked off with a cold open celebrating Mother’s Day courtesy of Miley Cyrus and some cast member ‘s Mamas – and not a significant mention of politics or host Elon Musk
“Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and this is for all the Moms out there,” said multiple past host Cyrus before launching into Dolly Parton’s 1977 classic Light of a Clear Blue Morning. The unusual opening on the billionaire guest hosted SNL then had Kate McKinnon and her Mom channel some Molly Shannon. Aidy Bryant and her mother followed, with the latter giving a shout out promo to her Hulu series Shrill.
More from Deadline
In an episode already under the microscope because of Musk, the Mother’s Day tactic was a deft-ish move by SNL to shift focus, at least for a short time with some heartstrings before the PayPal co-founder started his monologue – as you can see below:
Happy Mother’s Day from SNL! pic.twitter.com/QFaVVGA84r
— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) May 9, 2021
“I kind of thought the trip here was the gift,” declared Kyle Mooney after his Mom chided him that the SNLer owed her two Mother’s Day gifts for missing last year due to the separation arising from coronavirus pandemic. :Can tonight be about me?” said Beck Bennett when his mother brought up the comic’s brothers in their short time in the very untraditional cold open. Mickey Day’s mom actually mock flirted a bit with Bennett with a “I can’t wait to give you a hug.”
Heidi Gardner and her Mother were all hugs, but “they didn’t write me a joke, I don’t know why” griped the cast member. Kenan Thompson praised his Mother as “the woman who taught me everything including how to do reaction shots.” Ego Nwodim, Cecily Strong, Mellissa, Villaseñor, Pete Davidson, Bowen Yang, Chloe Fineman and other cast members and featured players also appeared with their Mothers on the eve of the annual flower and brunch fest
Colin Jost and his Mom stepped a bit outside of the skit with the latter threatening to read some remarks that the former’s Weekend Update co-anchor Michael Che had penned on index cards. “You shouldn’t do that Mom, it’s a trap,” said the younger Jost. “You’ll get our whole family cancelled, said the younger Jost.
However, if there was a star Mom tonight, it had to be Chris Redd’s Mama, who joked about how often she had seen her son over “Thanksgiving and Christmas and our big Spring Break at Disneyland” in what was supposed to be lockdown.
With but one fleeting reference to Musk in skit, the cold opener ended with everyone plus Cyrus’s mother and manager Tish on-stage. “Happy Mother’s Day to my godmother Dolly Parton and to my Mom Tish,” explained the younger Cyrus.
Counter-programming to the pre-recorded, star studded and POTUS featuring Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World over on ABC, CBS and Fox, tonight’s SNL represents a first for the long running late night show. The Musk guest-hosted comedy revue is being livestreamed internationally via YouTube in more than 100 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, the UK and the Tesla CEO’s birthplace of South Africa.
Of course, the parachuting of the outspoken and sometimes world’s richest man into fronting SNL with Cyrus as musical guest has attracted a far degree of controversy and more than usual attention – which may have been Lorne Michaels and NBC’s plan all along. Usually, the chanteuse is the center of attention, but tonight the ex-Hannah Montana star is in second place to Musk.
For many, Musk’s appearance is a reminder of the platform SNL gave then candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 election when the former Celebrity Apprentice host fronted the Michaels EP’d show.
In the 2021 context, SNL regulars Aidy Bryant and Chris Redd both took swings at the SpaceX boss, who has made flippant remarks about the Covid-19 pandemic over the past year and proven a bit of brat on social media. Others like Pete Davidson have welcomed Musk hosting the show and Weekend Update co-anchor Michael Che has mused tonight’s show could end up being interesting at the very least.
Past SNL host Dave Chappelle acknowledged there are a lot of ways to look at Musk hosting SNL.
“Like you said, no one can be woke enough,” the comedian told Joe Rogan recently on the latter’s Spotify podcast. “I’m torn, because I like a warrior for a good cause, but I’m really into tactics. You’re not gonna nag people into behaving … In fact, if you continue with this tone, even if you’re right, you’ll be very hard to hear.”
Next week will a more traditional SNL with Keegan-Michael Key guest-hosting and Olivia Rodrigo as musical guest. May 22 finds The Queen’s Gambit star Anya Taylor-Joy making her SNL hosting debut and Lil Nas X performing on what will be the Season 46 finale.
Best of Deadline