You know that the billionaire space race has entered the nation’s mainstream when it’s skewered by NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”
On tonight’s season premiere, guest host Owen Wilson played the starring role in “Star Trek: Ego Quest” as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who in July took a suborbital space ride on the New Shepard rocket built by his own Blue Origin space venture.
SNL’s writers even went so far as to write Wilson’s brother, fellow actor Luke Wilson, into the script as Mark Bezos (credited in the opening titles as “First Mate Jeff Bezos’ Brother, Whose Name Escapes Me”). Other prime-time players portrayed the Bezos brothers’ companions in what it called a “crew of random weirdos,” including Dutch student Oliver Daemen (“Science Officer Rich Kid From the Netherlands”) and 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk.
“Their mission: to just sort of fly around space, goofing off, in a ship that looks like a penis,” the narrator intones.
Naturally, Bezos and his crew get into a drag race with Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson, who in real life went on his own suborbital space journey on SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity just nine days before Bezos’ flight. The narrator calls it “A Midlife Crisis of Cosmic Proportions.”
But the race ends up going to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk (played by Mikey Day), who blasts Bezos’ craft with photon torpedoes. “Space is only big enough for one weird white billionaire,” Musk says. “So you could say beating you is my … Prime objective.” (Or should that be “Prime Directive”?)
In the final scene, Bezos beams up an Amazon delivery guy (Kenan Thompson), grabs his package and immediately gets ready to beam him back down. “Hey, can I use the bathroom real quick?” Thompson asks — and Bezos responds by throwing him an empty bottle. “I’m not peeing in this!’ Thompson shouts as he and the bottle dissolve into the sparkly transporter beam.
The spot doesn’t address the past week’s controversy over Blue Origin’s policies on flight safety and sexual harassment — but in a couple of less serious respects, it’s a case of art imitating life. Bezos really did play a part in a Star Trek show, as an alien Starfleet officer in the movie “Star Trek Beyond.” And just a few months ago, the real-life Musk shone as a guest host on SNL.