Saturday Night Live allegedly hired controversial stand-up comedian Shane Gillis in order to appeal to conservative viewers, Variety reports. Sources told Variety that series creator Lorne Michaels was hoping to dispel accusations of liberal bias on the sketch comedy show. In the aftermath of the 2016 election, Alec Baldwin’s bumbling portrayals of President Trump on the show garnered right-wing criticism and the occasional angry tweet from the big man himself.
Last week, SNL announced the casting of three new featured players, including Gillis, ahead of the premiere of the 45th season. Gillis was immediately embroiled in controversy when material from his podcast containing offensive racist and homophobic language began to make the rounds online. In one of the clips, the comedian repeatedly uses racial slurs about Chinese people. Gillis was dropped from SNL shortly thereafter, according to an official statement from a Lorne Michaels spokesperson on Monday.
The Variety report claims that sources believe the vetting process was “severely lacking” in the case of Gillis’ hiring, given that he had a well-known reputation in comedy circles for his use of hurtful and offensive language.