September 16, 2019
UPDATED 9/16 4:30 p.m.
Days after Pennsylvania comedian Shane Gillis was hired to be a featured cast member on the upcoming season of "Saturday Night Live," NBC announced he has been fired due to his past racist comments.
"After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining SNL," a spokesperson on behalf of SNL creator Lorne Michaels told Buzzfeed News on 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 spokesperson added. "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."
Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang responded to racist jokes made by newly-hired "Saturday Night Live" cast member and native Pennsylvanian Shane Gillis in an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN on Sunday.
Yang initially had confronted the Mechanicsburg comedian in a Twitter thread when videos of Gillis saying anti-Asian slurs on a podcast resurfaced online. On CNN, Yang said he was offended by the comments, but he isn't calling for Gillis to be fired.
Watch the whole clip here.
"I've experienced a lot of Anti-Asian racism throughout my upbringing. And it hurts. It is something that is very real. And I do think Anti-Asian racial epithets are not taken as seriously as slurs against other groups. But at the same time, bigger picture, I believe that our country has become excessively punitive and vindictive about remarks that people find offensive or racist and that we need to try and move beyond that if we can, particularly in a case where the person is, in this case to me, like a comedian whose words should be taken in a slightly different light."
After the SNL hiring announcement Thursday — which notably includes the show's first Chinese-American cast member Bowen Yang — comedy journalist Seth Simons tweeted out clips of Gillis and comedian Matt McCusker mimicking Chinese accents, using a slur referring to Chinese people, and making other offensive comments.
here is Shane on the Legion of Skanks last July. these are the same guys who gave Louis CK a surprise set at their festival 3 months ago. this is a very real sector of contemporary comedy with a huge constituency; one of SNL's head writers is part of it too. (cw: racism, ableism) pic.twitter.com/c7HmPD28UY— Seth Simons (@sasimons) September 13, 2019
this, again, is from September 2018 pic.twitter.com/inYFT22zjl— Seth Simons (@sasimons) September 12, 2019
Gillis issued a half-hearted apology via Twitter Thursday night.
After those initial videos resurfaced, Vice found even more footage of Gillis using racist language; this time he uses a racist slur against Yang himself in a podcast episode recorded in May 2019.
So far, NBC, the show, and Lorne Michaels have been tight-lipped about the whole situation. Interestingly, someone on Reddit pointed out that on Saturday the New York Times had a photo caption that said Gillis had been fired for his comments, but the article made no mention of his termination. That caption has been changed.