Saturday Night Live didn't expect to have their cast reveals for the upcoming season stepped in controversy, but that ended up being the case after one of their new hires Shane Gillis was fired from the show. When Gillis' hiring was announced it was quickly followed by videos and audio from his podcast coming onto social media, which had the comedian using racial and homophobic slurs, and that led to his firing from SNL. That marred the celebratory reveal that Chloe Fineman and Bowen Yang would be joining the show, and THR recently had the chance to speak to Kenan Thompson about the Gillis situation and the new cast members.
When asked about Fineman Thompson said he's looking forward to working with her and she "seems like she's going to be a great addition." He's also excited for Bowen, who will be the show's first Chinese-American cast member, to take the stage, but also added: “I’m just sorry it had to be splashed in drama.”
As for Gillis, Thompson was asked if SNL will turn this moment into social commentary. “I think they already made it," Thompson said. "They put their stamp on there — which everyone would have assumed about SNL anyway — that we don’t tolerate abuse or disrespect of anyone, racial or otherwise. It’s just not conducive to a comedy show.”
This season will be a bit different for Thompson and the rest of the cast in another way too, as Leslie Jones won't be a part of the show this year. When asked about filling that void, Thompson said “I don’t know if you can. She’s one of a kind. I’m going to miss seeing my dear friend [on a daily basis].”
Thompson is excited to get back to it though, and can't wait to reunite with his castmates. "I’m excited about Chloe and Bowen and excited to get the old crew back together. All my ‘babies’ are now like in their fifth and sixth years. And Kate [McKinnon] has won more Emmys than I can count — she’s like a tornado. It’s just going to be a pleasure to be able to get back there and see them work. It’s a pleasure every single time. That’s why I’m in no rush to leave. Because number one, it sucks to audition — but number two, I have a front row seat to all this brilliance.”
Saturday Night Live returns later this year.