Saturday Night Live Parts Ways With Comic Over Racist Remarks

shane gillis saturday night live
(Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for Clusterfest)

Not even a week after Saturday Night Live announced its newest class of comics, the Lorne Michaels show has parted ways with Shane Gillis, one of the three comics recently added to the cast. After Gillis' hiring was first announced, the comedian instantly came under fire for a 2018 video in which he went on a racist rant where he dropped a derogatory term about Asian-Americans. Variety obtained a statement from Saturday Night Live, which apologized for not seeing the barbaric clips earlier on in the hiring process.

"After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining ‘SNL,'” an “SNL” spokesperson on behalf of Lorne Michaels said in a statement. “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 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.”

On an episode of his Matt and Shane's Secret Podcast last September, Gillis launched a rant about New York's Chinatown, calling it "f---ing nuts" and dropping the derogatory term. Other tidbits from his rant include bits like "the translation between you and the waiter is just such a f---ing hassle," and "nice racism, good racism. I love to be f---ing racist."

Moments after Saturday Night Live distributed the press release, Gillis himself posted a statement on Twitter — something else that's likely to be divisive in the coming days. "It feels ridiculous for comedians to be making serious public statements but here we are," Gillis wrote through the Notes app on his iPhone, before screenshotting it to upload to Twitter. "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 mad tv [sic] guy anway."

Joining Gillis in what would have been his first season on the hit NBC show is Bowen Yang, the show's first-ever actor of East Asian descent, and Chloe Fineman. After the clips in question first surfaced — which were recorded less than a year ago — stars instantly swooped in the denounce the sketch comedy show, including newly-tapped Marvel star Simu Liu.

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"It wasn't funny then, and it sure as hell isn't funny today," Liu tweeted about the word Gillis used. "This word has been used to dehumanize my people for over 150 years. You don't get to use it in the name of edgy comedy. Like the other members of my community, I am eagerly awaiting @nbcsnl's response."

Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for Clusterfest