'SNL' host Elon Musk takes a Saturday off from Tesla's troubles

Musk says to expect shenanigans, potentially involving Dogecoin, which he also touted on his Twitter account and the cryptocurrency's value has soared

SpaceX founder Elon Musk arrives for the boarding of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon capsule, before the launch of the NASA commercial crew mission at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., April 23, 2021. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

Elon Musk's turn as host of this week's Saturday Night Live television programme will be a lighthearted, brand-building break from the pressures of running Tesla and SpaceX – or will land the billionaire in another bucket of hot water.

That uncertainty appears to be the point for Musk and NBCUniversal's venerable comedy sketch show.

Musk has been encouraging fans and detractors to expect shenanigans, potentially involving the Dogecoin cryptocurrency.

He touted Dogecoin on his Twitter account and the cryptocurrency's value soared before his appearance.

"I'm a wild card, no telling what I might do," Musk, wearing a black bandanna, joked in a brief promotional video for the show alongside Saturday's musical guest, Miley Cyrus.

"Same here," Cyrus said. "Rules? No thanks."

Musk has been in New York this week preparing for the appearance.

A photo posted to the SNL Twitter account on Thursday, showed him hunched over papers, wearing a "Nuke Mars" T-shirt. Musk has mused about using nuclear weapons to reshape the Red Planet for human habitation.

Some of the show's cast members have expressed displeasure at the decision to give its platform to one of the world's richest people.

Musk's appearance has drawn comparisons to SNL's decision in 2015 to invite Donald Trump to host as he was preparing for his presidential run.

Although it is rare for a business executive to host SNL, South Africa-born Musk, 49, is no stranger to pop culture or comedy.

He has appeared on The Simpsons, Rick and Morty and South Park, and is dating Canadian pop star Grimes. Musk's persona helped inspire Robert Downey Jr's portrayal of superhero Iron Man in a series of Marvel films.

His humour also shows in the names of Tesla car models S, 3, X and Y ("sexy"). He also once built and sold flame-throwers to promote his tunnel venture, the Boring Company. In 2018, Musk smoked marijuana on a live web show, and later offered $420 a share – a drug reference – to take Tesla private.

While Musk has been preparing for the cameras, Tesla has been going through a rough patch. Long-time major shareholder Baillie Gifford disclosed it sold 41 per cent of its Tesla shares.

Meanwhile, police in California are investigating a fatal accident in which a Tesla crashed into an overturned lorry. Documents prepared by California regulators said Tesla executives do not believe Tesla can deliver the "Full Self Driving" autonomous vehicle technology this year, contradicting Musk.