New ‘SNL’ Cast Member Shane Gillis Under Fire for History of Racist and Homophobic Remarks

     September 13, 2019

Saturday Night Live announced a trio of new cast members yesterday, but what should have been a joyous event soon turned rather unsettling. Alongside Chloe Fineman and veteran SNL writer Bowen Yang, stand-up Shane Gillis was added to the SNL ensemble, but rather quickly videos of Gillis spouting racist and homophobic remarks started surfacing online. Unlike some “cancelled” comedians or personalities whose distant past comes back to haunt them, some of these clips aren’t even a year old.

The first clips to surface came from Gillis’ podcast Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast, in which Gillis and co-host Matt McCusker go on a rant about Chinatown and Chinese food, using a racist slur and mocking their accents. The most infuriating aspect of is it that it’s not even under the guise of comedy—it’s just two guys telling a story and going on a tangent that they think is kind of funny. There’s no bigger “bit” here. They’re just being racist.

In another clip from a podcast episode published in May 2019 (yes, four months ago), a gay slur is used to take a dig at “confessional” comedians like Judd Apatow and Chris Gethard, whom they deem “fucking gayer than ISIS.” The clips were rounded up by Vulture, who notes that Gillis preemptively wiped all past episodes of Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast from their YouTube channel.

As if that wasn’t enough, sources told Vulture that those in the Philadelphia comedy scene were surprised when Gillis was announced as an SNL cast member—specifically because his racist remarks are routine:

“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.

So how did Gillis respond? With a non-apology apology, of course. Here’s his full response:

“I’m a comedian who pushes boundaries. I sometimes miss. If you go through my 10 years of comedy, most of it bad, you’re going to find a lot of bad misses. 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.”

I’m sorry, but this is complete and total bullshit. For one, he never once actually apologizes for anything here, and instead defiantly asserts that nobody is truly, genuinely upset by any of this. Additionally, you don’t have to go through his 10 years of comedy to find these bad “jokes.” They happened within the last year.