Andrew Yang to 'SNL' Castmember Shane Gillis: "Happy to Sit Down and Talk"

Democratic Debate_9-12_Andrew Yang - Getty - H 2019
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

"I prefer comedy that makes people think and doesn’t take cheap shots," the Democratic presidential candidate also said in a message to the comedian on Twitter.

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang has a message for Saturday Night Live's new castmember Shane Gillis, who is facing backlash over using racial and homophobic slurs.

On Saturday morning, Yang retweeted Gillis' statement from earlier this week in which the comedian 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."

Yang's retweet included an offer to have a conversation with the comedian. "I prefer comedy that makes people think and doesn’t take cheap shots," Yang wrote. "But I’m happy to sit down and talk with you if you’d like."

A couple hours after his initial statement, Yang shared on Twitter, "For the record, I do not think he should lose his job. We would benefit from being more forgiving rather than punitive. We are all human."

Later in the day, Yang continued to emphasize that he has endured stereotypical and racist remarks his whole life, which have made him feel "like you are somehow not part of the only country you have ever known." "I have certainly felt that - the churning sense of alienation, anger and marginalization," he wrote.

"It’s also the case that anti-Asian racism is particularly virulent because it’s somehow considered more acceptable. If Shane had used the n-word the treatment would likely be immediate and clear," Yang tweeted.

After taking the time to listen and watch Gillis' work, Yang commented on why he doesn't find the comedian "malignant or evil." "He strikes me as a still-forming comedian from central Pennsylvania who made some terrible and insensitive jokes and comments," Yang explained.

He added: "I think we have, as a society, become excessively punitive and vindictive concerning people’s statements and expressions we disagree with or find offensive. I don’t think people should be losing jobs unless it’s truly beyond the pale and egregious. I understand those who have another point of view on this. Obviously, the folks at NBC are the real decision-makers." 

Yang then shared that he forgives Gillis, "[b]ut if I can forgive Shane, as the guy he called a slur, I hope others can as well. I also hope Shane is open to learning. We are all human, we’re all fallible." 

After Gillis was fired from SNL on Monday, Yang shared that Gillis reached out to meet. "Looks like we will be sitting together soon," he tweeted. 

Representatives for Yang's campaign did not immediately reply to The Hollywood Reporter's request for comment.

Yang was called out by Gillis directly in audio from an episode of the Real Ass Podcast that aired in May. On the podcast, Gillis can be heard calling Yang a "Jew ch---k," as well as the comedian using racial slurs and Chinese accents. "Episode 403" is currently available online, while a video has been made private.

Gillis was one of three new SNL castmembers announced Thursday, along with Chloe Fineman and Bowen Yang.

Following news of his casting, Gillis quickly came under fire for offensive remarks found in multiple audio and video clips that include racial slurs towards Chinese people and homophobic slurs. Co-castmember Yang is gay and Chinese-American. 

Simu Liu, star of Marvel’s forthcoming Asian-led film Shang-Chi, tweeted, "It wasn’t funny then, and it sure as hell isn’t funny today. This word has been used to dehumanize my people for over 150 years. You don’t get to use it in the name of edgy comedy. Like the other members of my community I am eagerly awaiting @nbcsnl’s response." Liu also attached a photo of a "Yellow Peril" propaganda picture with his tweet. 

Always Be My Maybe star Daniel Dae Kim tweeted, "It took 45 years for @SNL to get an East Asian cast member and in that same year, he’ll be joined by someone who would have no problem calling him a "fucking ch---k." Gotta be a joke in there somewhere."

Silicon Valley's Jimmy O. Yang also wrote on Twitter, "As a comedian, I usually side with the comedians on sensitive subjects. But this is just plain racist. [It’s] truly disgusting. This man has to go @nbcsnl."

NBC has yet to release a statement on Gillis.

Sept. 16, 2:50 p.m. Updated with Yang's Monday tweet. 
Sept. 15, 10:53 a.m. Updated with Simu Liu's tweet.
Sept. 15, 7:06 a.m. Updated with Yang's additional tweets.