Last week, newly hired “Saturday Night Live” cast member Shane Gillis was hit with calls for his firing over past offensive jokes.
Journalists dug up commentary made by Gillis on a podcast called “Matthew and Shane’s Secret Podcast,” his project with fellow comedian Matt McCusker. Gillis used a stereotypical mocking Asian voice and made fun of Democratic candidate and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang, referring to him as a “Jew chink.” In another episode, the comic “used homophobic slurs to describe Judd Apatow, the comedy filmmaker and producer, and the comedian Chris Gethard,” The New York Times reported.
Journalist Seth Simons posted the following clips of Gillis, sparking the controversy around the comic:
The journalist’s apparent intention of posting the clips of Gillis was to get him fired from “Saturday Night Live.”
“If your position is that it’s immoral to try to get someone fired from a job because they have a history of hate speech, maybe ask around about how they treat other workers in their field and consider whether one thing might relate to the other,” Simons wrote on Twitter.
“That Jew chink?” Gillis says in another posted clip from the podcast, referring to Mr. Yang, according to The Guardian. “Commie Jew chink? Next, please, next. Gimme your next candidate, Dems. Jew chink, next. Actually, they are running a Jew chink: Chang, dude. … Yang, or Chang?”
Yang responded to the audio, saying he’d like to sit down with Gillis to discuss the commentary, noting that he does not believe Gillis should be canned from SNL.
“Shane – I prefer comedy that makes people think and doesn’t take cheap shots. But I’m happy to sit down and talk with you if you’d like,” the presidential contender posted to Twitter on Saturday.
“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,” he added.
Gillis was also criticized for comments made about famed comic Louis C.K., who last year admitted to masturbating in front of women after getting their permission.
“It’s not like stand-ups were looked at as great members of society before all this stuff happened,” Gillis said, according Philadelphia Neighborhoods. “No, I don’t think anything is affected. What? Just because Louis got caught… No, that’s changed nothing. He’s still the best.”
In the same interview posted by the outlet, Gillis noted that comics are quick to pull out anti-Trump jokes because the president “is so bad.”
“Trump is so bad that a lot of comics feel like it’s their duty to be like ‘I need to be a voice against him,’” he said. “It’s like everyone is a voice against him.”
According to the Times, Gillis addressed the controversy on Thursday at New York City comedy club “The Stand,” telling the crowd that he was “playing a character on the podcast and that he did not himself think of Chinese people that way.”
In a statement posted the following day, Gillis said his edgy comedy sometimes “misses the mark” and offered an apology to “anyone who’s actually offended.”
“I’m a comedian who pushes boundaries. I sometimes miss,” Gillis posted on Friday. “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,” the comic added.
Many in the comedy and media world were quick to condemn Gillis, some calling him a “racist” and seemingly looking for the comedian’s career to be “canceled,” a common trend facilitated by media outrage.
“Asian Americans are too often are the butt of racist jokes in mainstream media. What could fly against Asians without a peep would cause outrage if said against women and other minorities,” wrote famed anti-Trump MD Eugene Gu. “Shane Gillis is still employed by SNL after calling Andrew Yang and other Asians ‘chinks.’”
“It’s been 24 hours since Shane Gillis’ recent racist, sexist, & homophobic comments have come to light, and as far as I can tell he’s not yet been fired by #SNL. His resentful non-apology showed no contrition, and yet, he’s still going to have a job? Ah to be a white hetero male,” wrote Entertainment Weekly reporter Lacey Vorrasi-Banis.
“As a comic who also ‘pushes boundaries’ part of the deal getting pushback. If you don’t want pushback then don’t ‘push boundaries,’” said CNN’s W. Kamau Bell, captioning Gillis’ statement. “Also the boundaries of ‘jokes’ on native Chinese ppl not speaking English well were already pushed by comics when TV’s only came in black & white.”
“As a comedian I usually side with the comedians on sensitive subjects. But this is just plain racist. [It’s] truly disgusting,” wrote comic Jimmy O. Yang. “Standing up against this is just as important as supporting our Asian brothers and sisters. This man has to go [SNL].”
“If your comedy is cruel, you are cruel. If your comedy is racist, you are racist. If your comedy is transphobic, you are transphobic,” GQ columnist Sophia Benoit said. “You f***ing wrote the jokes and said them out loud!!! It’s not like god dropped a notebook in your lap and you have to say these things or die.”