Just four days after announcing that Shane Gillis would be joining Saturday Night Live’s upcoming season, the comedian is out of the job, thanks to his history of racist and homophobic jokes and comments.
“After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining SNL,” said a spokesperson on behalf of Lorne Michaels in a statement. “We want SNL to have a variety of voices and points of view within the show, and we hired Shane on the strength of his talent as comedian and his impressive audition for SNL. We were not aware of his prior remarks that have surfaced over the past few days. The language he used is offensive, hurtful and unacceptable. We are sorry that we did not see these clips earlier, and that our vetting process was not up to our standard.”
In the immediate aftermath of Gillis’ hiring—which saw him joining SNL alongside Bowen Yang, the show’s first Asian-American cast member—clips of the comedian disparaging Chinese and LGBTQ people went viral. In one, recorded for a podcast in 2018, he asked, “Why do the fucking ch-nks live there?” when discussing Chinatown and, in another, used the same slur to describe presidential candidate Andrew Yang. He also referred to comedians Judd Apatow and Chris Gethard as “gayer than ISIS” and “f-ggots” for their more confessional style of stand-up.
That evening, Gillis released a statement saying, “I’m happy to apologize to anyone who’s actually offended by anything I’ve said. My intention is never to hurt anyone but I am trying to be the best comedian I can be and sometimes that requires risks.” Other instances of his offensive language came to light, including a 2016 interview in which he talked about performing for white audiences and their boundaries, saying, “You can be racist to Asians. That’s what we’re finding out.”
After the news of his firing broke on Monday, Gillis tweeted out another statement that reads, in part, “I’m a comedian who was funny enough to get SNL. That can’t be taken away.” He also said he understands and respects the decision because he “would be too much of a distraction.” He ended the note by quipping, “I was always a mad tv guy anyway.”
— Shane Gillis (@Shanemgillis) September 16, 2019
Saturday Night Live has not announced if it will replace Gillis before the new season premieres on Sept. 28, with Woody Harrelson hosting.
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