Comedian Shane Gillis will host Saturday Night Live tonight. He returns after being removed from the live cast in 2019 for using racist and homophobic slurs.
In September 2019, a video of Gillis using an anti-Asian slur and homophobic slur surfaced just hours after SNL announced it had added Gillis to the cast. The comments were made during a 2018 episode of his podcast, “Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast,” which he hosted alongside Matt McCusker.
“Chinatown’s f*cking nuts,” Gillis says during a conversation about Chinese people and food. A few beats later he says “Let the f*cking ch*nks live there.”
During a discussion about Judd Apatow and Chris Gethard, the pair were referred to as “white f*ggot comics.”
Gillis was fired from the show shortly after.
“After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining SNL. 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,” showrunner Lorne Michaels said in a statement per The Hollywood Reporter.
Gillis’ return to SNL has left many Asian Americans feeling an afterthought.
“There is a feeling of it being swept under the rug — anti-Asian jokes being viewed as benign or not having real-life effects and consequences on people, when it’s not the case,” Dylan Adler, a Los Angeles-based Asian American comedian, said in an interview with NBC News.
SNL announced it was planning to hire Gillis at the same time they decided to hire Bowen Yang. The casting has grown more diverse in recent years.
Jes Tom, an Asian American stand-up comedian and actor, told NBC News that white male comedians might feel threatened by the added diversity in comedy.
“From 2018-ish to right now, casting became more diverse,” they said. “But because the image changed, it allowed people like straight, white men to believe that now, they’re the alternative voice. They’re the little guy who’s punching up against the ‘diverse powers’ that be.”
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