The co-founder of PayPal, CEO of Tesla and founder of SpaceX made his sketch comedy debut on the latest episode of “Saturday Night Live” this past weekend, on the May 8 show. Among the first topics tech innovator Elon Musk mentioned? Asperger’s syndrome.
After a song from “Saturday Night Live” guest performer Miley Cyrus and some Mother’s Day jokes from cast members, the celebrity host stepped up to the microphone. Musk spoke about his diagnosis in his monologue.
“It’s an honor to be hosting ‘Saturday Night Live.’ I mean that,” Musk stated. “Sometimes after I say something I have to say, ‘I mean that.’ Some people rarely know that I mean it, that’s because I don’t always have a lot of intonation or variation in how I speak — which I’m told makes for great comedy. I’m actually making history tonight as the first person with Asperger’s to host ‘SNL.’ Or at least the first to admit it. So I won’t make a lot of eye contact with the cast tonight. But already I’m pretty good at running human in emulation mode.”
You can watch Musk’s full monologue in this clip from the “SNL” YouTube channel.
Elon Musk: Asperger’s Syndrome Or Autism?
Several years ago, the diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome was dropped from the psychiatrists’ Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders, which is the American publication referenced by mental health professionals around the world. However, for many people like Elon Musk, Asperger’s remains the term they use to describe their condition.
Asperger’s syndrome, or AS, is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which Understood.org defines as neurological “conditions characterized by impairment in communication skills, along with repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behavior.”
Dr. Stephen Shore, a clinical assistant professor, author and speaker who was diagnosed with ASD as a child, has been quoted as saying, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”
“This quote emphasizes that there is great diversity within the autism spectrum,” Shore said in an interview with Lime Connect. “While the commonalities of people on the autism spectrum include differences in communication, social interaction, sensory receptivity, and highly-focused interests, it’s important to understand that the constellation of these characteristics blends together differently for each individual.”
How Asperger’s Syndrome Manifests In People Like Elon Musk
However, there are some common characteristics that “Aspies” often share, such as fixation on a specific subject, which often makes them experts on the topic; unusual rhythms and inflections when speaking; and developmental delays such as stilted walking or poor coordination.
People with Asperger’s can struggle to understand the subtleties of language, such as irony and sarcasm. Musk remarked on his difficulties with making jokes and picking up on humor.
“Look, I know I say or post strange things but that’s just how my brain works,” Musk stated in the monologue. “To anyone I have offended, I just want to say I reinvented electric cars and I’m sending people to Mars on a rocket ship. Did you think I was also going to be a chill, normal dude?”
Musk’s statement about being the first “SNL” host with Asperger’s could be considered a faux pas, though. Former “Saturday Night Live” cast member and writer Dan Aykroyd was diagnosed with Asperger’s in the 1980s. Akroyd also hosted the SNL 28th season finale show in 2003 and has appeared on the show in cameos several times since then.