Saturday Night Live on Monday announced that it will no longer bring Shane Gillis aboard as a new cast member for its 45th season, after unearthed video showed him making overtly racist jokes.
“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,” the NBC show said in a statement.
“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.”
Gillis appeared to take his premature firing in jest, and without apology. “It feels ridiculous for comedians to be making serious public statements, but here we are,” he wrote after the news broke on Twitter Monday. Then—in response to his offer to join the cast of SNL being taken away—Gillis declared that an impossibility: “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,” Gillis wrote, before throwing a jab. “I was always a mad tv guy anyway.”
Gillis’ hiring was announced last week, along with comedians Bowen Yang and Chloe Fineman. Yang will become SNL’s first East Asian cast member in the show’s history.
Despite deleting all of the videos from his podcast’s YouTube channel and all but the most recent episodes from the internet, multiple clips and videos emerged of Gillis making racist, sexist, and homophobic comments soon after the announcement.
A September 2018 episode of “Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast,” which Gillis co-hosts with fellow comic Matt McCusker, shows the comedian mocking Asians. “Damn, Chinatown is fucking nuts,” Gillis says in the clip, before adding, “let the fucking chinks live there.” Gillis and McCusker then mock Asian accents and complain about the “fucking hassle” of ordering food from someone who doesn’t speak English well.
In a separate appearance on the podcast Live from Shane’s Parent’s Basement, Gillis uses the derogatory phrase “so gay” to describe screaming soldiers at the battle of Gettysburg, then later makes jokes using the offensive words “retard” and “f-ggot.” In the same episode, he describes women who had to disguise themselves as men in order to fight in the war as “flat chested f—ing bitch[es].”
Gillis has also aimed his comedy at Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. In May of this year, on a separate appearance on the Real Ass Podcast, the comedian called Yang a “Jew c---k.” When Gillis’ previous racist comments about Asians, as well as those directed at the Asian American candidate, surfaced, Yang unexpectedly came out in support of the comic. “For the record, I do not think he should lose his job,” Yang wrote on Twitter. “We would benefit from being more forgiving rather than punitive. We are all human.”
Gillis later issued a statement about his trove of controversial remarks on Twitter, writing: “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 sometime that requires risks.”
Yang shared Gillis’ statement on Twitter, and said he prefers “comedy that makes people think and doesn’t take cheap shots” but is “happy to sit down and talk with you if you’d like.” The dialogue between the two men is apparently not over. After Gillis’ firing, Yang took to Twitter to share that the comedian has reached out to him and the two will be “sitting down together soon.”