Comedian Shane Gillis will not be joining ‘Saturday Night Live’ over racist and homophobic videos

Author: PETER MARTINEZ/CBS News Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:
Comedian Shane Gillis (Comedy Central / YouTube)

“Saturday Night Live” says comedian Shane Gillis will no longer be joining the show’s cast after videos of him making racist, sexist and homophobic jokes surfaced. In a video from 2018, Gillis used racial slurs for Chinese people and also mocked Asian people who were trying to learn English.

A spokesperson for SNL creator Lorne Michaels said Monday that Gillis “will not be joining SNL” and added, “[w]e hired Shane on the strength of his talent as a comedian … We were not aware of his prior remarks … The language he used is offensive, hurtful and unacceptable.”

The spokesperson went on to apologize that SNL didn’t see the clips earlier and that its “vetting process was not up to our standard.”

Gillis would have joined the NBC show — now in its 45th season — along with new cast members Bowen Yang and Chloe Fineman. Yang is the broadcast’s first Asian American performer who is openly gay. The show’s season premiere is scheduled for September 28.

Gillis shared a statement about the videos late Thursday night, calling himself a “comedian who pushes boundaries.” While he didn’t apologize in the statement, he said he would be “happy to apologize to anyone who’s actually offended” by what he’s said. He called the racist comments “risks” that missed the mark.

Shortly after SNL’s announcement Monday, Gillis tweeted, “I’m a comedian who was funny enough to get SNL. That can’t be taken away.” He added, “I respect the decision they made. I’m honestly grateful for the opportunity.”

He also quipped he was “a mad tv guy anyway” — in an apparent jab at SNL by supporting the show’s one-time rival.

2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang to meet Shane Gillis

Andrew Yang, a Democrat running for president in 2020, jumped into the controversy surrounding Shane Gillis over the weekend, offering to “sit down and talk” with the embattled comedian. Late Monday, Yang tweeted it appears that Gillis “reached out” to him and the two will meet at some point.

Yang, a Taiwanese-American, told CNN on Sunday that he has encountered racism in his upbringing, but noted “our country has become excessively punitive and vindictive about remarks that people find offensive or racist.”

“[Gillis] does not strike me as malignant or evil,” Yang tweeted Saturday, adding, “… if I can forgive Shane, as the guy he called a slur, I hope others can as well.” At the time, Yang believed Gillis shouldn’t lose his job and wrote: “We are all human.”

What did Shane Gillis say?

Gillis was recorded in a video that went viral on Twitter in which he mocks Chinese people, using several racial slurs during an episode of his podcast last year.

In a now-deleted YouTube video, Gillis and his co-host, Matt McCusker, shared a slew of racist “jokes” against Chinese-Americans, mocking their accents and culture. The page for “Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast” is now completely devoid of content.

“Let the f**king c****s live there,” Gillis said, referring to Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood. The two go on to mock Chinatown’s architecture and food, complaining extensively about MSG and calling noodles, “nooders.”

In the same video, Gillis and McCusker joke about going to Thailand to “party with ladyboys” and complain about other ethnicities being racist against white people.

In another podcast episode, the duo rank comedians by race, gender and sexuality. They repeatedly make sexist and racist remarks and use homophobic slurs throughout.

“White chicks are literally the bottom,” Gillis said. “Ali Wong is making it so Asian chicks are funnier than white chicks.”

They also refer to Judd Apatow and Chris Gethard as “white f****t comics” and “f**king gayer than ISIS.”

Sophie Lewis contributed to this report.

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