Saturday Night Live parted ways with newly hired comedian Shane Gillis Monday over past racist jokes, before he even appeared on the NBC series.
“After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining SNL,” a show spokesperson said in a statement on behalf of SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels.
The show also apologized to viewers for failing to fully vet Gillis.
“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 a comedian and his impressive audition for SNL,” the statement continued. “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 was announced as a new addition to the sketch comedy series on Thursday, Sept. 12, along with Chloe Fineman and Bowen Yang, who will be the show’s first Asian American cast member.
Within hours of the announcement, clips of Gillis using racist language on his podcast were circulated online. In one clip from “Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast,” Gillis and co-host Matt McClusker riffed on New York’s Chinatown.
“Chinatown’s f—ing nuts,” Gillis said. “Let the f—ing ch-nks live there.”
Gillis also complained about being served at Chinese restaurants by waiters with accents.
“The translation between you and the waiter is such a f—ng hassle, I’m pointing at it,” he said. Gillis went on to mock Chinese accents.
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The clips sparked backlash on Twitter, with critics calling for SNL to dump the comedian.
Following his dismissal Monday, Gillis addressed NBC’s decision with a statement on Twitter.
“It feels ridiculous for comedians to be making serious public statements but here we are. I’m a comedian who was funny enough to get SNL. That can’t be taken away,” he wrote. “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.”
Season 45 of Saturday Night Live premieres on NBC Sept. 28 — without Gillis.