HomeAsian AmericansAsian American groups want comedian Shane Gillis dropped from brand deals

Asian American groups want comedian Shane Gillis dropped from brand deals


by Ti-Hua Chang

Several Asian American organizations have asked Bud Light and Netflix to drop comedian Shane Gillis as “a representative of their brand because of his insensitivity and hurtful remarks toward the Asian American community.”

The organizations include the Chinese American Citizens Alliance Los Angeles, Japanese American Citizens League Greater Los Angeles, Anti-Asian Hate Coalition of Southern California and the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA).

In 2019, comedian Gillis, a white man, was fired four days after he was hired by the show Saturday Night Live (SNL). This after it was revealed that in 2018, Gillis had said, “F*cking Ch*nks” while mocking Asians on “Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast” The Shane Gillis Jokes About Asian People That Got Him Fired From SNL.

Asian American groups willing to accept Gillis apology if …

Two Asian American organizations (MANAA and the JACL LA Chapter) tell AsAmNews that they would accept a public apology by Shane Gillis and drop their request if his apology recognized how potentially damaging his previous comments could be (given anti-Asian hate crimes). The two groups also want his apology posted on social media.

Substitution test

Guy Aoki, the founder of MANAA, told AsAmNews as he described the American entertainment media’s anti-Asian history, “ We’ve gotten beaten up long enough, and we got sick and tired of this…Try saying the “N” word and see what happens…If you (comedians) think we are being unreasonable, do the substitution test, substitute Asian with Black or Jewish, and see if you feel comfortable. If you feel uncomfortable maybe you shouldn’t have done it against us.”

The Asian American groups calling for Gillis’ removal note it is June. In June of 1982 Asian American Vincent Chin was brutally beaten to death in Detroit. His killers have, to this day, never spent a full day in jail or prison.

Are Asian Americans also at fault?

Aoki also blamed Asian American complacency about anti-Asian jokes for promulgating Asian hate speech in comedy. While he notes immigrant Asians may not understand English well enough to realize they are being insulted, he notes some native-born Asian Americans “say it’s comedy…they just try to laugh it off and give excuses for it. They’re giving permission for more of that kind of treatment.”

Gillis’ comedy today seems restrained

Now streaming on Netflix, Shane Gillis has a 2023 stand up comedy special and a 2024 six-part comic series entitled “Tires” which has been renewed for a second season. Gillis’ comedy special seemed irreverent but relatively restrained, with no derogatory terms for People of Color and no mention of anyone Asian. When he jokes about “retarded people,” he apologizes for using the term and talks about what he says is his Uncle with Downs syndrome who loves to bring cheese sandwiches to restaurants. Gillis also points out that Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were slave owners. He adds, again as a negative, that Washington used donkey and slave peoples’ teeth for his dentures. Gillis has publicly stated that his material uses a blue-collar-white-male perspective to make fun of their world.

In Episode 3 of “Tires” an Asian father and daughter come in and speak Mandarin Chinese and later the white owner in “Tires,” Will, also speaks passable Mandarin. There are no attempts to speak pretend Chinese. In the same episode of “Tires,” Shane Gillis imitates Japanese, but sounds more like a grunting samurai than someone speaking Japanese, which did not offend Guy Aoki. Aoki did question the anti-Semitic jokes about a Jewish person’s large nose, a slur used to describe an Italian man and the numerous sexist jokes in “Tires.”

Why doesn’t Gillis apologize for past offensive jokes?

Aoki insists if Gillis has indeed become “more sensitive to people of Color and underrepresented groups, that’s great it shows some growth on his part. But if that’s true, then why is it still so hard for him to apologize to the Asian American community for those past jokes (2019 racist jokes) and his defense of those jokes? …Why not give a full and sincere apology?”

On Friday, AsAmNews called Ethan Kurtzman, Gillis’ agent at Creative Artists Agency, and left a message. We also emailed him and messaged him through LinkedIn. Kurtzman did not respond.
Our emails to Netflix and Anheuser Busch companies were also not answered at publication time.

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


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