On Monday, “Saturdy Night Live” announced that they were firing comedian Shane Gillis over past comments the producers of the decades-old show deemed “offensive, hurtful, and unacceptable.” The move has inspired several fellow high-profile figures to come to the defense of Gillis, including former SNL cast member Norm Macdonald and anti-“cancel culture” comedian Bill Burr. The firing of Gillis has also revived an old sketch starring the comedian in which his character suffers a hilariously/tragically parallel fate.
In a video that’s begun to make the rounds online, including over at Reddit, Gillis plays a fireman who just heroically saved a Latino family only to have the media gleefully burn down his promising firefighting career. Below is the video posted on YouTube in August 2018 by Victor Dweck, who plays the shameless newsman who ruins the life of a should-be hero:
NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” followed the “cancel culture” script to a tee on Monday by caving to pressure to shun Gillis over past comments.
“After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining ‘SNL,'” an “SNL” spokesperson said in a statement Monday. “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.'”
But, the producers said, they were “not aware” of his prior remarks which recently surfaced. “The language he used is offensive, hurtful, and unacceptable,” the spokesman said. “We are sorry that we did not see these clips earlier, and that our vetting process was not up to our standard.”
As The Daily Wire reported, the comments deemed “unacceptable” by “SNL” were dug up by a journalist — much like the muckraking reporter in the skit. On a podcast he produced with fellow comedian Matt McCusker, “Matthew and Shane’s Secret Podcast,” 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.'”
As detailed by The New York Times, Gillis also “used homophobic slurs to describe Judd Apatow, the comedy filmmaker and producer, and the comedian Chris Gethard.”
Gillis responded to the calls for him to be “cancelled” last week by noting that he was simply “playing a character” and that he didn’t actually think of Chinese people in the way expressed in the podcast.
“I’m a comedian who pushes boundaries. I sometimes miss,” Gillis said in a statement he posted online 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.”
Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang partly defended Gillis, saying he does not think he should “lose his job” over the comments. “I think we have, as a society, become excessively punitive and vindictive concerning people’s statements and expressions we disagree with or find offensive,” Yang tweeted Monday. “I don’t think people should be losing jobs unless it’s truly beyond the pale and egregious.” Yang later said Gillis reached out to him and the two were going to sit down and chat.
In response to getting “canceled,” Gillis tweeted Monday that while it “feels ridiculous for comedians to be making serious public statements,” he wanted to respond. “I’m a comedian who was funny enough to get ‘SNL.’ That can’t be taken away,” he said in a statement he posted on Twitter. “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,” he added.