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September 12, 2019

'Saturday Night Live' adds Pa. native Shane Gillis to cast, receives backlash for racist jokes

Gillis, 31, of Mechanicsburg is set to join the show's 2019-20 roster, but jokes from last year prompted an apology

Television Comedy
Shane Gillis Pennsylvania SNL Comedy Central Stand-Up/YouTube

Shane Gillis, 31, moved from Mechanicsburg to Philly and won Helium Comedy Club's "Philly's Funniest Comedian" award in 2016. Gillis will join SNL's cast this year.

UPDATE, 6:59 p.m.: Variety reported Thursday evening that Gillis used racial slurs in videos and podcasts from September 2018.

Comedy journalist Seth Simons found videos from Gillis' YouTube page, which appeared to be otherwise scrubbed of content, according to Simons:

Gillis issued a statement late Thursday night:

ORIGINAL STORY, 2:30 p.m.: The upcoming season of "Saturday Night Live" will include a Pennsylvania native who flexed his comedy muscles in Philadelphia just a few years ago.

Shane Gillis, 31, who moved from Mechanicsburg to Philly, and won Helium Comedy Club's "Philly's Funniest Comedian" award in 2016, will join SNL's cast this season when it premieres Sept. 28, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

(Though he hails from the Keystone State, Gillis is currently based in New York City, just like everyone else.)

Gillis's rise to NBC fame was swift: just three summers ago, the comic was performing as the main act in Lancaster. Earlier this year, he was recognized as a New Face at the 2019 Just for Laughs Festival, a list of 21 up-and-coming comics to watch. Previous New Faces include Philly native Kevin Hart, as well as Jimmy Fallon and Amy Schumer.

You can get a taste for Gillis' comedy stylings, including his take on a Philly accent, in this segment below:

Gillis won't be the show's only obscure Pennsylvania connection this fall: Reading-native Taylor Swift is performing as the musical guest for the show's Oct. 5 episode.

Along with Gillis, SNL also added Chloe Fineman and Bowen Yang as players for the show's 2019-20 season. The show returns to NBC on Sept. 28 with Woody Harrelson as host and Billie Eillish as the musical guest.

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