SNL fires new hire Shane Gillis after recent homophobic and racist slurs surface

Shane Gillis in June 2019 in San Francisco, California. | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for Clusterfest

SNL will proceed without Gillis at the end of this month.

Comedian Shane Gillis has been fired from the upcoming season of Saturday Night Live, according to NBC, just days after the network announced that he would be joining the cast.

After video of Shane Gillis using racial slurs in a 2018 podcast, and describing other comedians with homophobic insults, critics called for Gillis’s removal. It’s the first time that a cast member has been removed from SNL prior to their first appearance, a motion that arrives in response to serious criticism of the show over the last several days.

“After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided he will not be joining SNL,” a 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 is offensive, hurtful and unacceptable. We are sorry we did not see these clips earlier, and that our vetting process was not up to standard. “

SNL announced that Gillis would be joining the cast last Thursday, September 12. But later that same night, freelance journalist Seth Simons tweeted that during a September 2018 episode of the comedian’s podcast Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast, which at the time was available on YouTube (but are now removed), Gillis and co-host Matt McCusker took time to “joke” about why they dislike Chinese and Asian people, Chinese food, and Chinatown.

“Why do the fucking ch*nks live there?” Gillis asked, explaining why Chinatown disgusts him. “Get those ducks out of that window … [An Asian person trying to learn English] — that’s more annoying than any other minority playing music loud on their phone.”

Gillis had also used homophobic language to describe other comedians; in another episode of the podcast, he called stand-up Chris Gethard and director Judd Apatow “white f*ggot comics.”

Gillis responded with a statement on Twitter on Thursday night after his past prejudiced comments spread. He didn’t apologize for the comments but instead said that the slurs he used were examples of how he is a “comedian who pushes boundaries.”

Not long after NBC announced that Gillis would not be joining SNL after all, Gillis returned with another tweet defending himself.

“I’m a comedian who was funny enough for SNL,” he wrote. “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 guy anyway.”

SNL will debut its 45th season — without Gillis — on September 28, 2019.

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