Shane Gillis stepped into the public light Wednesday for the first time since he was hired — then promptly fired — from “Saturday Night Live” earlier this week for making racist and homophobic remarks. And he pulled no punches.
“Everybody’s been like, you can’t say [stuff] and not expect consequences,” Gillis told the crowd during his 11-minute set at a comedy club in New York City, according to Variety. “I’m fine with the consequences. I’m not arguing. But I do want everyone to know that I’ve been reading every one of my death threats in an Asian accent.”
Gillis addressed the social media backlash he’s received since he was fired Monday from the sketch-comedy show.
“It’s been weird. Twitter has been ... nuts. You try to stay off it when the whole ... country hates you. That’s not a fun feeling as a human. Especially when you never get to say your side at all,” he said, referring to “cancel culture.”
“It’s funny to hear so many people these days be like, ‘I’m not racist,’” he later said in his set. “Are you sure? Being racist isn’t a yes or no thing. It’s not like you have it or you don’t have it. Being racist is like being hungry. You’re not right now, but a cheeseburger could cut you off in traffic and you could get hungry real quick. You didn’t even know you were hungry for that type of cheeseburger. The cheeseburger’s not Asian in that joke.”
NBC announced last week that Gillis was one of three new cast members slated to join “SNL” for its 45th season. But before he could step foot in front of the cameras, Gillis was fired over racial and homophobic slurs that he used on a podcast. One of his insults was aimed at Chinese people, and one of the incoming “SNL” members, Bowen Yang, is Chinese American, the show’s first.
Gillis’ Wednesday gig comes on the heels of support he’s received via Twitter from past “SNL” comedians Rob Schneider and Norm Macdonald.
“As a former SNL cast member I am sorry that you had the misfortune of being a cast member during this era of cultural unforgiveness where comedic misfires are subject to the intolerable inquisition of those who never risked bombing on stage themselves,” Schneider wrote in a four-part tweet Monday.
“I think a suspension would be appropriate for someone who is part of an organization that says something terrible in a podcast from a year earlier. An honest, sincere apology and also accepting it seems appropriate as well. Destroying someone does not,” Schneider went on, later adding that, “It’s not okay to say racist things under the guise of comedy. Just because you have a mic in your hand doesn’t make the racist things you say any less racist.”
Dear @Shanemgillis— Rob Schneider (@RobSchneider) September 16, 2019
As a former SNL cast member I am sorry that you had the misfortune of being a cast member during this era of cultural unforgiveness where comedic misfires are subject to the intolerable inquisition of those who never risked bombing on stage themselves.
Macdonald, an “SNL” cast member in the 1990s, also came to Gillis’ defense, tweeting on Monday, “Hey, Shane, I’m so sorry. I can’t even imagine how you must feel.”
@Shanemgillis Hey, Shane, I'm so sorry. I can't even imagine how you must feel. The work it takes to get that show and to have it snatched away by some guy who does "Spoken Bird" poetry. Unacceptable. Please DM me, pal, when you have a moment. I'm so sorry.— Norm Macdonald (@normmacdonald) September 16, 2019