Justin Timberlake mocks Chavez on US TV

Too soon? Yes, probably. Still Justin Timberlake’s career has never been overly concerned about sensitivity or good taste, so it was hardly a surprise to see him mocking the recently-deceased Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez on the habitually weak comedy show Saturday Night Live.

He opened the show dressed as his close friend Sir Elton John singing a version of Elt’s embarrassing Marilyn Monroe/Princess Diana tribute 'Candle In The Wind'. Saturday Night Live’s writers had brought their typically hamfisted wit to update the lyrics.

"You lived your life like a candle in the wind," Timberlake crooned, ". . . if a candle could pull out two pistols at a press conference. You said the US causes earthquakes and you outlawed Coke Zero. And on your shoulder stood your parrot with a matching red beret."

Yeah, well you probably had to be there . . . It’s unlikely that the Venezuelan people, still in mourning for their leader, will be booking any Timberlake tickets any time soon, and it’s possible that the bad taste gag might make the singer persona non grata across quite a few countries in Latin America. Still, his recent link-up with Budweiser indicated that he was willing to spout any rubbish he is handed if the price is right.

Timberlake’s hosting gig makes him the fifth person to host the show for a fifth time, alongside infinitely funnier stars Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd and Martin Short. The other "highlight" of his guest spot was a skit in which he changed the lyrics of his hit Suit and Tie in order to respond to a jibe from Kanye West. It was an industry in-joke that would have had most viewers saying "huh?" Although that could apply to most of SNL’s material.

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