“Saturday Night Live” has issued a statement announcing it is cutting ties with Shane Gillis. Gillis was one of three comedians announced September 12 as new cast members on the long-running NBC sketch comedy series. Controversial jokes from Gillis’ past began resurfacing on social media not long after his “SNL” casting was officially announced. A spokesperson on behalf of Lorne Michaels said in a statement (via Variety) that the Gillis and the show are parting ways ahead of the new season.
“After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining ‘SNL,’” the spokesperson said. “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.”
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After Gillis’ initial casting was announced, freelance writer and editor Seth Simons posted on Twitter a viral video from Gillis’ podcast, “Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast,” in which the comedian is heard saying, “Chinatown’s fucking nuts. Let the fucking ch*nks live there.” Gillis addresses Chinese restaurants by joking, “The translation between you and the waiter is such a fucking hassle, I’m pointing at it.”
Variety reporters Will Thorne and Elaine Low followed up the video by investigating more of Gillis’ insensitive material. The Variety report said Gillis had “a long history of denigrating women, Muslims and the LGBT community, among other groups.” In one episode about the Battle of Gettysburg, Gillis refers to screaming soldiers as “so gay” and uses the words “retard” and “faggot.” One joke finds Gillis and his co-host comparing “hot Southern boys” being raped in the Civil War to “having gay sex in jail.”
Gillis issued an apology in the wake of the backlash. “I’m a comedian who pushes boundaries,” he wrote in a statement. “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.”
“Saturday Night Live” Season 45 premieres September 28 on NBC with host Woody Harrelson. Read Gillis’ latest comment on the firing in the Twitter post below.