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“After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining SNL,” a show spokesperson said Monday 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 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.”
In his own statement on Twitter, Gillis said in part, “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
Gillis, one of three new SNL castmembers announced on Sept. 12, can be heard using a racial slur in a since-deleted video from 2018 on a YouTube channel called “Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast.”
“Chinatown’s fucking nuts,” Gillis says in a segment of the video dated Sept. 26, 2018. “Let the fucking ch—s live there.” The video also shows Gillis mimicking a Chinese accent and mocking Chinese restaurants.
Additional audio from a separate 2018 episode of Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast shows Gillis and co-host Matt McCusker ranking how funny comedians are by race and using homophobic slurs. While referencing comedians like Judd Apatow, Gillis calls them “white faggot comics” and “fucking gayer than ISIS.”
Gillis took to his Twitter account to issue a statement, tweeting “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.”
Gillis is the latest comedian to deal with backlash over past offensive comments. Trevor Noah was criticized ahead of replacing Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show over old tweets, including ones deemed anti-Semitic or offensive towards aboriginal women, while Kevin Hart gave up his Oscars hosting gig this year when earlier homophobic tweets of his resurfaced.
SNL is set to return Sept. 28 for its 45th season with host Woody Harrelson and musical guest Billie Eilish.