‘SNL’: Justin Timberlake Mocks Elton John, Hugo Chavez in Cold Open

Saturday Night Live touched on a global soft spot in its cold open this past weekend. SNL opened with host/performer Justin Timberlake impersonating Elton John at a memorial service for late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and “Timberlake mocks Hugo Chavez” soon became a trending topic. (The controversial leader died on March 5 from cancer, which the leader had blamed on the U.S., and Venezuela is currently in the middle of a seven-day period of national mourning.)

Timberlake took to the piano to perform John’s eulogistic “Candle in the Wind,” but changed the lyrics around. Whether it was Timberlake’s dead-on impression of John or the lyrics to Chavez’s version of the famous John song that stole the opening is debatable.

“I have to confess I didn’t know Hugo Chavez very well,” began Timberlake as John, “but as the saying goes, “Hey, a gig is a gig!’ I did a bit of research, and it turns out President Chavez was quite a complex man. So, here it goes. Everything in this song is true.” Timberlake then launched into a song pointing out the late leaders infamous quotes and headlines.

Topics ranged from calling George Bush the devil and Mr. Danger, to Chavez’s thoughts on capitalism and Mars.

“You said the U.S. causes earthquakes and you outlawed Coke Zero. And, on your shoulder stood your parrot with a matching red beret,” sang Timberlake as an image of Chavez flanked by a parrot was shown in the background.

Timberlake concluded the segment truthfully, as promised earlier. “You were hero to your people and you never gave up a fight,” he sang. “We’ll miss you Hugo Chavez, because live from New York it’s Saturday Night,”