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Shane Gillis not joining ‘SNL’ following racist remarks

Shane Gillis performs onstage at the 2019 Clusterfest on June 21, 2019 in San Francisco, Calif.
Shane Gillis performs onstage at the 2019 Clusterfest on June 21, 2019 in San Francisco, Calif. Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for Clusterfest

Shane Gillis will no longer be a part of the new season of Saturday Night Live.

In a statement, the late-night sketch show confirmed it’s parting ways with the comedian before he even appeared in an episode.

“After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining SNL,” an SNL spokesperson said in a statement on behalf of 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.”

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Gillis tweeted immediately following the release of SNL‘s statement.

Last Thursday, late-night sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live revealed it had hired three new cast members: Bowen Yang, the show‘s first Asian-American comedian, Chloe Fineman and Gillis.

Praise for the inclusive hiring quickly turned sour as footage surfaced online of some of Gillis’ standup from September 2018, which showed the 38-year-old using a racial slur when referring to Chinese people.

He goes on to joke about being “annoyed” by Asian people and closes the bit with “nice racism, good racism.”

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Mere hours after SNL announced the three new hires, Gillis posted an apologetic statement to Twitter.

“I’m a comedian who pushes boundaries. I sometimes miss,” Gillis wrote. “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.”

SNL has taken heat over the years for an overall lack of ethnic diversity, with scant Asian representation among its cast members and hosts.

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Former players Fred Armisen and Rob Schneider are both one-quarter Asian, but neither has been widely recognized for their Asian ancestry. Among hosts, the long history of SNL includes a short list of Asian or Asian-American hosts, with Awkwafina, Aziz Ansari and Jackie Chan among them.

Change is a constant at SNL. Leslie Jones, who joined the show after it was criticized in 2013 for the absence of an African-American woman among its regular or featured players, is focusing on standup and movies and will not be back this season.

SNL returns Sept. 28 to Global with host Woody Harrelson and musical guest Billie Eilish.

— With files from the Associated Press

Global News and Global TV are both properties of Corus Entertainment.

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