'SNL' fires new hire, Pa. native Shane Gillis

Shane Gillis
Photo credit Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/FilmMagic for Clusterfest/Getty Images
By Sandra Gonzalez and Whitney Friedlander
(CNN) — "Saturday Night Live" has fired one of its most recent hires, Shane Gillis, just days after videos of comedian making bigoted comments came to light.

"After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining 'SNL,'" an 'SNL' spokesperson on behalf of Lorne Michaels said in a statement to CNN. "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."

The NBC sketch show had announced Gillis' hire last week, along with the additions of new series regulars Chloe Fineman and Bowen Yang. However, news broke that afternoon of Gillis' history of making defamatory comments toward Chinese Americans as well as a homophobic slur during episodes of his and fellow comedian Matt McCusker's "Matt and Shane's Secret Podcast."

Gillis, a Mechanicsburg native, responded to the backlash Thursday night, posting on Twitter that "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" and that "I'm happy to apologize to anyone who's actually offended by anything I've said."

Many took him up on his offer, including television creator Daniel Chun, who wrote back "I was offended, Shane!," and novelist Monica Byrne, who responded "Looking forward to your offer getting revoked, dude. Wow."

Local comedy theater Good Good Comedy in Chinatown tweeted last week that like many, they were "quickly disgusted" by Gillis' "overt racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia — expressed both on and off stage — upon working with him years ago."

Good Good Comedy said it has "deliberately chosen not to work with him in the years since."

We, like many, were very quickly disgusted by Shane Gillis' overt racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia - expressed both on and off stage - upon working with him years ago. We've deliberately chosen not to work with him in the years since.

— Good Good Comedy Theatre (@goodgoodcomedy) September 13, 2019

In 2016, Helium Comedy Club at 20th and Sansom streets awarded Gillis as "Philly's Funniest Comedian."

Gillis is just the latest example of a comedian's past comments and actions gaining new attention in the online world. Trevor Noah saw a backlash to some of his old tweets, which were deemed offensive toward women and Jews, when he took over as host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" in 2015. Kevin Hart stepped down from hosting this year's Oscars after his past homophobic tweets surfaced. Sarah Silverman recently revealed she was fired from a movie after producers found a sketch of her eponymous Comedy Central show in which she wore blackface make-up — a sketch she says she no longer supports.

Gillis was due to start his new job at "SNL" as part of the show's 45th season, which premieres September 28 with host Woody Harrelson and musical guest Billie Eilish.

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