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Comedian Shane Gillis Fired From 'Saturday Night Live' For Racist Remarks

Sep 16, 2019
Originally published on September 17, 2019 6:08 pm

Shane Gillis, the comedian who has been under fire over the past few days for using racist and homophobic slurs on his podcast, has been fired from Saturday Night Live.

Gillis was one of three cast members recently added to the show, which is set to begin its 45th season. But the comedian was canned on Monday before ever making an appearance on the show.

"After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining SNL," a spokesperson said in a statement on behalf of producer Lorne Michaels.

The statement explained that Gillis' prior remarks were unknown to Michaels, who hired him "on the strength of his talent as comedian and his impressive audition."

"We want SNL to have a variety of voices and points of view within the show ... 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."

Following the announcement of his dismissal, Gillis responded over Twitter, "It feels ridiculous for comedians to be making serious public statements but here we are."

"I'm a comedian who was funny enough to get on SNL. That can't be taken away," he said. "Of course, I wanted an opportunity to prove myself at SNL but it would be too much of a distraction. I respect the decision they made. I am honestly grateful for the opportunity."

A now-viral video posted by comedy reporter Seth Simons first brought Gillis' controversial past to the mainstream, though some have distanced themselves from his particular brand of comedy for some time.

In the video — an excerpt of Matt and Shane's Secret Podcast, which Gillis co-hosts with comedian Matt McCusker — he uses a racist slur and makes fun of Chinese accents during a discussion about Chinatown.

In another episode, he uses gay slurs to describe comedians he doesn't think are funny.

Gillis' dismissal follows days of public outcry calling for his removal from the cast, which ironically was announced on the same day SNL hired its first full-time cast member of East Asian descent.

Gillis had attempted to mitigate the controversy in a tweet Thursday. "I'm a comedian who pushes boundaries," he wrote. "I sometimes miss."

"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," he explained.

On Monday, Gillis ended his statement saying, "I was always a [Mad TV] guy anyway."

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