Shane Gillis didn’t exactly have a long tenure as a cast member on “Saturday Night Live.” Shortly after it became public knowledge he’d made racially charged comments about Chinese individuals — including Democratic presidential contender Andrew Yang — he was dismissed from the show before even recording an episode.
“After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining ‘SNL,’” a spokesman for the show said on 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.’
“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.”
Despite the fact the comments weren’t in the best of taste, Gillis has some defenders. Surprisingly, one of them is Yang.
Yang, whom Gillis called a “Jew c–nk” in a podcast, had previously offered his support to the 31-year-old comedian.
During an interview last week, he doubled down by saying that he didn’t feel Gillis was a racist.
“I actually sat there and watched some of Shane’s comedy to figure out whether I thought that he was truly malignant or evil or just a comedian who’d made some terrible and distasteful jokes,” Yang said, according to Politico.
Yang said he disagreed with the show’s decision to let Gillis go.
He also made it clear that he drew the line at actual racist statements.
“That, to me, is beyond the pale and people should face consequences,” the Taiwanese-American Yang said.
In addition to his comments about Yang, Gillis had also come under fire for a September 2018 episode of his podcast which took place in New York’s Chinatown.
“Chinatown’s f—ing nuts … There are a lot of Chinee [sic] down there,” Gillis said.
His co-host, Matt McCuster, wondered how Chinatown got started.
“Let the f—ing c–nks live there,” Gillis said during the back-and-forth.
The comedian also talked about the language barrier in ordering from Chinatown establishments and how he would be made fun of for how he talked if he were to go to China.
At the time the remarks became public and the controversy began brewing, Yang had initially tweeted that he was willing to hash it out with Gillis personally.
“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,” Yang wrote in a Sept. 14 tweet,
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. https://t.co/YxbzQ5WVLX
— Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) September 14, 2019
Two days later, he tweeted, “Shane Gillis reached out. Looks like we will be sitting down together soon.”
Shane Gillis reached out. Looks like we will be sitting down together soon.
— Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) September 16, 2019
After that, Yang was (somewhat surprisingly) in Gillis’ corner.
“As a society, we have become unduly punitive and vindictive about people making statements that some find offensive or distasteful,” Yang said outside a campaign event.
Were Gillis’ comments in bad taste? Sure. Are they fireable? At least according to Yang, no.
This isn’t exactly Andrew Dice Clay circa 1989 we’re dealing with: It’s an individual who’s made mistakes but is also apparently funny enough to get onto “SNL.”
(That’s a low bar nowadays, but bear with me.)
I’m not Chinese-American. Yang is, and so is my wife. Neither seems to find this as offensive as the media does.
This is a small sample size, I’ll concede, but most of the outrage here seems to be of the white liberal variety. It’s all about the word of the day: cancelation. Shane Gillis is canceled, and there’s no way to find his way back from that.
It’s only a matter of time before they come for Andrew Yang, too.
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