On the same day that three new Saturday Night Live cast members were announced, one of them is already under fire for past racist and homophobic comments.
Not long after the announcement, a clip from September 2018 surfaced in which stand-up comic Shane Gillis, speaking on his aptly-titled Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast, made racist comments about Chinese people.
In the clip, Gillis engages in a lengthy diatribe with his co-host Matt McCusker about Chinatown, which includes him saying “Why do the fucking ch*nks live there?” and doing a racist mock accent.
today SNL announced the hiring of its first cast member of East Asian descent, and also this guy pic.twitter.com/0FAGJZJUkK
this, again, is from September 2018 pic.twitter.com/inYFT22zjl
In another episode of Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast, Gillis and his co-host refer to comedians with a more open, emotional style—naming Judd Apatow and Chris Gethard—as “white f*ggot comics” and that they are “fucking gayer than ISIS.”
In recent years, when situations like this have arisen, a typical response has been something along the lines of these comments/tweets/thoughts were long ago; I’ve changed. But with Gillis’ comments coming from within the last year and change, that doesn’t seem to be an applicable angle to this round of controversy.
Gillis comes from the Philadelphia comedy scene, and according to Vulture, at least one theater stopped working with him due to “racist, homophobic, and sexist things he’s said on and offstage” things he’s said both within and outside of his act.
As the controversy and discussion surrounding Gillis’ remarks picked up steam, Gillis released a statement on Twitter, saying that he’s a “comedian who pushes boundaries” and that he would be “happy to apologize to anyone who’s actually offended by anything I’ve said.”
In light of these clips that have circulated , many have begun to react to the clips of what Gillis has said both in podcasts and on stage.
I started covering SNL professionally in 2010 and I’ve had a strict rule I NEVER comment publicly about cast members’ future employment status because it didn’t seem fair. But Shane Gillis is now the exception. Completely unacceptable and he needs to be dismissed immediately.
I know so many comedians who DON’T have shit like this in their “past” (2018), and would be better for the job. Also, fuck both these guys. https://t.co/YiYnrVAMEN
I’ve watched the Shane Gillis videos at least 6 times, and his “apology” is the only thing that consistently gets a laugh 🤸♂️ pic.twitter.com/yZSzoUrcs8
This has all probably raised Shane Gillis’ profile enough that Netflix will give him a ton of money to make a comedy special talking about all the things he can’t talk about anymore because people like him don’t have platforms anymore.
Saturday Night Live has not yet commented on any of this. The show has also hired improv comic Chloe Fineman, and elevated the status of Bowen Yang, a comedian who was already a writer for the show last year (he appeared on-screen as Kim Jong Un in a sketch). Yang will be the first East-Asian cast member in the show’s 45-season run.
The show’s 45th season is set to debut on September 28, with host Woody Harrelson and musical guest Billie Eilish.
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