ENTERTAINMENT

New 'SNL' Cast Member Fired After Using Racist And Homophobic Slurs

Shane Gillis directed the slurs at people of Chinese descent and mocked comedians who have spoken about mental health.

NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” on Monday fired new cast member Shane Gillis in response to recent racist and homophobic comments he made on a podcast last year, four days after announcing the new hire.

“After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining SNL,” a spokesperson for the late night show said in a statement Monday. “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.”

In the 2018 clip from “Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast,” uncovered Thursday by freelance comedy writer Seth Simons, Gillis and co-host Matt McCusker repeatedly mock people of Chinese descent, denigrating their accents and calling Chinatown “fucking nuts” and “full fucking China.”

“Let the fucking chinks live there,” Gillis says in the clip.

He goes on to say that “an Asian trying to learn English” bothers him more than “any other minority playing music in a restaurant loud on their phone.”

Later, he describes his racist jokes as “nice racism, good racism.”

The original video has since been deleted.

Shane Gillis performs onstage at the 2019 Clusterfest in San Francisco.
Shane Gillis performs onstage at the 2019 Clusterfest in San Francisco.

Vulture reported Thursday night that on another episode of the podcast, Gillis and McCusker created a “hierarchy of stand-up comedy” based on race, gender and sexual orientation. They also used homophobic and misogynist slurs to mock comedians who have spoken openly about their mental health struggles, including Chris Gethard and Judd Apatow — calling them “white faggot comics” and “fucking gayer than ISIS.” 

“I don’t like pussy white comedians,” McCusker says in the clip. “I hate the celebration of some dude just being a total pussy.”

“I feel you, dude,” Gillis says. “I really don’t like the celebration of a guy being like, ‘So, I’m depressed.’”

The revelations about Gillis were particularly galling given that among the show’s other new cast members announced Thursday was “SNL” writer Bowen Yang — the show’s first Chinese American cast member and one of only a handful of Asian and LGBTQ stars in the history of the long-running late night show, which has repeatedly struggled with diversity and inclusion.

On Thursday night, Gillis issued a nonapology “to anyone who’s actually offended.”

“I’m happy to apologize to anyone who’s actually offended by anything I’ve said,” he tweeted. “My intention is never to hurt anyone but I am trying to be the best comedian I can be and sometimes that requires risks.”

“I’m a comedian who was funny enough to get 'SNL.' That can’t be taken away. … I was always a ‘Mad TV’ guy anyway.” Shane Gillis, referring to another sketch show

Gillis’ history of offensive comments raises questions about the show’s vetting process.

Comedians in Philadelphia, where Gillis worked for several years, repeatedly raised red flags about him and were surprised to learn Thursday that “SNL” cast him, according to Vulture.

Kate Banford, co-owner of Good Good Comedy Theatre, told Vulture that the venue “stopped working with him within the past few years because of racist, homophobic, and sexist things he’s said on and offstage.”

Gillis responded to his firing by continuing to defend himself and saying that remaining on the show “would be too much of a distraction.”

“I’m a comedian who was funny enough to get SNL. That can’t be taken away,” he said Monday in a statement. “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 guy anyway.”

This article has been updated with Gillis’ statement.

CONVERSATIONS