After days of silence on the matter, Saturday Night Live has officially fired Shane Gillis from the season 45 cast after racist, misogynist, and homophobic comments made by the comedian as recently as 2018 surfaced mere hours after he was announced as a new cast member. SNL‘s decision to fire Gillis comes after his resurfaced comments spread like wildfire across social media, sparking outrage from people of color — especially the Asian and Asian-American community, who were Gillis’ primary targets — on the dangerous precedent his hiring would set in he was allowed to remain in the cast and thus implicitly getting SNL‘s support.
Gillis’ firing was addressed in a statement released via an SNL spokesperson on behalf of showrunner Lorne Michaels via Variety:
After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining SNL. 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 a 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.”
Following the half-baked apology (in this writer’s personal opinion) released in the immediate wake of the public’s concern on his comments, Gillis tweeted out the following on Monday in regards to his firing.
“It feels ridiculous for comedians to be making serious public statements but here we are. I’m a comedian who was funny enough to get SNL. That can’t be taken away. Of course, I wanted an opportunity to prove myself at SNL, but I understand it would be too much of a distraction. I respect the decision they made. I’m honestly grateful for the opportunity. I was always a [MADtv] guy anyway.”
— Shane Gillis (@Shanemgillis) September 16, 2019
Writer Seth Simons was the first person to alert the public to obscenely racist remarks made by Gillis on his podcast, Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast, back in 2018. Gillis used racial slurs and a racist accent during a conversation with podcast co-host Matt McCusker. If you are so inclined, you can listen to Gillis’ comments in the tweet below:
today SNL announced the hiring of its first cast member of East Asian descent, and also this guy pic.twitter.com/0FAGJZJUkK
— Seth Simons (@sasimons) September 12, 2019
Of course, racism wasn’t Gillis’ only preferred hot topic; he also expressed homophobic and misogynist opinions, too. In a May 2019 (yes, 2019) podcast episode, Gillis and McCusker called confessional comedians like Judd Apatow and Chris Gethard “fucking gayer than ISIS.” As if that wasn’t enough, Gillis is also heard on the “Ep 146 – Live from Shane’s Parent’s Basement” podcast episode discussing the Battle of Gettysburg and fires off both ableist and homophobic slurs as well as calling women who disguised themselves as men to fight in the battle “flat-chested fucking bitches.” All episodes of these podcasts have been erased with clips preserved for posterity from other sources.
In a Vulture round-up of Gillis’ remarks, those in the Philadelphia comedy scene where the comedian got his start expressed surprise he was joining SNL, especially because he has a history of regularly spouting racist jokes:
“‘Good Good Comedy Theatre stopped working with him within the past few years because of racist, homophobic, and sexist things he’s said on and offstage,’ said Kate Banford, co-owner of the comedy theater.”
Gillis was one of three comedians hired to join the season 45 cast following veteran Leslie Jones‘ departure. In addition to Gillis, veteran SNL writer Bowen Yang and Chloe Fineman were announced as the newcomers. It’s unclear if SNL has any intentions of hiring a third newbie to fill Gillis’ now-vacated spot. All that matters is that SNL has seen reason and prevented themselves from becoming truly fucked by allowing Gillis to remain on their payroll.