Bono Begged ‘Saturday Night Live’ to Stop Bashing His Spider-Man Musical

When Seth Meyers couldn’t stop slagging off the Irishman’s rock musical, Bono sent him a hilarious, strongly-worded letter
Bono Begged ‘Saturday Night Live’ to Stop Bashing His Spider-Man Musical

After Seth Meyers and Saturday Night Live repeatedly roasted the dangerous and disastrous Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, its music composer Bono begged them to stop busting his balls. The show’s actors probably had similar complaints about their flight harnesses.

The beginning of summer 2011 brought with it a pop-culture phenomenon that hasn’t been repeated by a Broadway production since, with the possible exception of Hamilton for very different reasons: across the country, even the most theater-averse Americans couldn’t stop talking about a musical at the historic Lyric Theatre in the Theater District of Midtown Manhattan. The mega-budget Marvel musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was frontpage news for its spectacularly stupid title, its score from the world’s foremost mall-rockers, U2’s Bono and The Edge, and, of course its recklessly ambitious set design and stunt choreography, which resulted in serious injuries to six different actors and stunt doubles during the making of the disastrous show.

As such, it was the honor and duty of the SNL writing staff at the time, along with its head writer Meyers, to ruthlessly ridicule Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark every time news (and bones) broke that another actor suffered an accident during an absurd aerial fight scene. But with great power comes great responsibility, and, as Meyers admitted during the recent inaugural episode of The Lonely Island and Seth Meyers Podcast, Bono didn’t feel that the constant criticism of his precious play was particularly conscientious. Somehow, that excuse didn’t fly with the show’s insurance adjuster.

“I wrote way too many sketches about it," Meyers said of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark to co-hosts Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, “I was completely enamored with the story that people were hurting themselves, especially people dressed like Spider-Man hurting themselves in Broadway theaters.” Specifically, Meyers recalled, ”I wrote a sketch for Fred (Armisen) called 'Gublin and Green,' where he was a lawyer who only dealt with personal injuries that happened in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, and then I got an email that seemed like a joke email, but it wasn’t."

Meyers said of the embarrassingly earnest missive, "I got an email from Bono, this is not a joke, inviting me to the premiere of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark." Somehow, the U2 front man didn't see the irony that he was responding to a sketch in which people injured by his musical's negligence were paid out in tickets to that same musical, as Meyers recalled of the email, “(Bono) said something along the lines of, ‘You’ve had your fun, you’ve told your jokes, now come see the real thing.'”

“Thinking like once you see it, you’ll understand there’s nothing to joke about,” Samberg surmised of the letter. Meyers accepted the invitation, only to find Samberg's theory to be true when he attended the musical's premiere like a NASCAR fan going to the Indy 500 hoping to see some crashing and/or burning.

“I went to opening night, and my memory of opening night of Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark — which I should say went smoothly and none of the Spider-Men, none of the Green Goblins, none of the audience, everybody walked out as they entered,” Meyers recalled. “I will say, half of the audience, and I’m not gonna say which half I was in, I think was a little bummed out that nobody fell from the rafters.”

Sadly for Meyers and thankfully for the perpetually endangered actors and stuntpeople, no further sketch material was mined from the musical the night Meyers attended the opening, and the joke ended up being on the Late-Night host – instead of seeing the Broadway equivalent of a car crash, he had to suffer through three and a half hours of Bono's music. That still should have earned him a settlement.


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