Saturday Night Live announced today that comedian Shane Gillis, previously hired as one of three new comedians for the show, will no longer be joining the cast. This decision by Saturday Night Live came after Gillis received significant backlash for using racist and homophobic slurs while on a podcast last year.
Reporter for mxdwn, Hannah Klein, detailed Gillis’ recent history of making sexist, racist, and homophobic jokes. The first incident to surface involving Gillis occurred on the show Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast last year, where he made jokes using racial slurs about Chinese people. The episode also included offensive anti-Muslim rhetoric. As Klein notes in her article, Gillis plays his comments off as just jokes, calling them “nice racism, good racism.”
When these comments began to surface on Twitter earlier this week, Gillis tweeted out a response. “I’m a comedian who pushes boundaries. I sometimes miss. If you go through my 10 years of comedy, most of it bad, you’re going to find a lot of bad misses. 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.”
— Shane Gillis (@Shanemgillis) September 13, 2019
Many Twitter users considered this apology to be inadequate, mocking the apology and turning it into a meme.
let’s break down this absolute non-apology:
“i’m to happy to apologize…” (“i’m not apologizing”)
“…to anyone actually offended…” (“to everyone pretending to be offended”)
“…by anything i’ve said.” (aka “what did i even say? i cant even recall what i did wrong!”)
— jonny sun (@jonnysun) September 13, 2019
iM a ComEdIan WhO PusHES bOunDARies. I sOmETimes MIss. If yOU gO ThroUGH mY 10 YeaRS oF ComEDy, mOsT Of IT baD, yOu’RE gOinG To fINd a LoT Of BAd miSsE. 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- https://t.co/0lsmmMIjtv
— sofía! (@desaulnicrs) September 13, 2019
Today, a show spokesperson issued a statement on Gillis, reported by The Hollywood Reporter. “After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining SNL,” they stated, on behalf of executive producer Lorne Michaels. “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 a comedian and his impressive audition for SNL. We were not aware of his prior remarks that have surfaced over the past few days. 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.”
Gillis also issued a new statement on Twitter today, in a similar format to the first. “Of course I wanted an opportunity to prove myself at SNL, but I understand it would be too much of a distraction. I respect the decision they made. I’m honestly grateful for the opportunity. I was always a Mad TV guy anyway.”
— Shane Gillis (@Shanemgillis) September 16, 2019
On a more positive note for the show, Saturday Night Live will premiere September 28th for its 45th season, featuring its two new cast members Chloe Fineman and Bowen Yang, the first full-time cast member of East Asian descent. The season opener will feature host Woody Harrelson and musical guest Billie Eilish.