Saturday Night Live confirmed on Monday that Shane Gillis will not be joining the cast after a series of racist and anti-LGBTQ+ comments resurfaced.
“After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining SNL,” said a spokesperson for the long-running sketch series 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,” the rep added. “We are sorry that we did not see these clips earlier, and that our vetting process was not up to our standard.”
Gillis responded in a statement posted on Twitter shortly after the news was made public.
“It feels ridiculous for comedians to be making serious public statements but here we are,” he said. “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... 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 always a mad tv [sic] guy anyway,” Gillis added.
Somebody in the Saturday Night Live offices is experiencing a horrible case of whiplash this morning. On the heels of applause for the sketch comedy show’s historic hiring of Bowen Yang as the first East Asian castmember Thursday, online video has resurfaced of comedian Shane Gillis, one of its other new hires, using racist, homophobic, and sexist language.
Gillis used to co-host a podcast with Matt McCusker called Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast as recently as September 2018. In video posted to Twitter by Seth Simons, a reporter that covers comedy, the pair imitate Asian people, use anti-Asian slurs, call white women the least funny group of people (with gay men being the second least funny), use "gay" as a pejorative, utter antigay slurs, and call transgender people "ladyboys."
Vulture discovered other audio from the podcast where the hosts berate comedians who adopt a more confessional style in their sets and mock them using homophobic slurs, calling them “white faggot comics” and “fucking gayer than ISIS.”
The clips have drawn massive backlash for the comedian, with many calling for him to be fired from the show.
According to a Vulture interview with Kate Banford of the Good Good Comedy Theatre in Philadelphia, where Gillis cut his teeth, the under-fire comedian has a long history of racist, misogynistic, and homophobic material.
“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,” Banford said.
Thursday night, Gillis, who was recently recognized as a “New Face” at the 2019 Just for Laughs Festival, posted the following iOS press release to Twitter — meaning he screenshot something he wrote on the Notes app on his iPhone: “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.”
NBC has not yet commented publicly on the matter.