This week’s episode of SNL played host to Tesla CEO and frequent shitposter Elon Musk, a decision that proved to be highly controversial online. The show itself turned out to be more boring than anything else — but one particular sketch drew the ire of watchers. “Wario”, which featured the talents of Musk, his wife Grimes, Kate McKinnon and other SNL regulars, was an attempt to parody the interpersonal relationships of the Super Mario Bros. characters. But it got so much wrong that any attempt at comedy only drew pity laughs.
Musk as Wario was particularly egregious, rocking a fake accent that skewed more towards Italian Elon Musk than anything else. For her part, Grimes seemed to assume Peach was Italian (she’s not) and went for a strange, high-pitched accent and stiff-armed performance. But not all of the blame for the failure of the sketch can be placed at Musk and Grimes’ feet. That has to go to SNL‘s writers, who decided to go for the lowest hanging fruit for its punchline: implying that Luigi was sleeping with Princess Peach.
It’s basic, 2000s fan art-era stuff. Bland, boring and unimaginative.
The concept of the sketch itself is fine. “Wario killed Mario in Mario Kart and now he’s on trial” is a great basis for a joke. But it’s clear the writers only understood the characters on a surface level and couldn’t rely on the great visual gags of McKinnon as Waluigi and Musk as Wario for laughs. It’s why the punchline is a joke about Luigi’s penis growing. It’s low level, boring comedy.
We can’t expect a sketch show to really dive into the source material for a parody like this, but SNL is meant to be the pinnacle of sketch shows. It’s hosted a barrage of comedy greats and launched the careers of hundreds of comedians across the decades. Writing like this is exactly why fans have turned away from the show in droves. While it’s tough to write a comedy show in a pandemic, surely the team can do better than this poorly received effort.
There are plenty of video games that deserve sending up, and plenty of jokes to be made about the Mario franchise. But SNL’s attempt at humour was a poor effort, and one that wasted the talents of McKinnon and everyone else involved.
If you want to check out the sketch for yourself, you can view it in its entirety below:
Depending on how Nintendo feels about it, you might not be able to watch the sketch for long.
Given the company’s history of defending its characters, particularly when it comes to sexual jokes and depictions, SNL may soon have a problem on its hands. And given the content of the sketch, this is one instance where a DMCA would be welcome.