NBC’s announcement of “Saturday Night Live’s” three new cast members, including its first Chinese-American comedian, quickly soured Thursday when footage surfaced showing another newcomer spewing racist jokes, including a slur, about Asian people.
Caught in the act was Shane Gillis, a stand-up comedian who was recognized as the Just for Laughs festival’s New Faces of Comedy this year.
In footage uncovered by freelance comedy reporter Seth Simons, Gillis can be heard mocking Chinese people, calling them “chinks” and saying it bothers him when Asian people try to learn English.
(Note: The following videos contain offensive language.)
Simons shared the footage of Gillis on Twitter, apparently grabbed from a YouTube video showing the comedian discussing Chinatown in an episode of his podcast show “Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast.”
“Damn, Chinatown’s fucking nuts,” Gillis says in the video.
“It is full fucking China. It is [Chinese] down there,” he continues, this time in a mocking accent. “Let the fucking chinks live there.”
In a second clip shared by Simons, Gillis says that “an Asian trying to learn English” bothers him more than “any other minority playing music in a restaurant loud on their phone.”
He then describes his racist jokes as “nice racism, good racism.”
The original video is no longer on YouTube, though a copy of it exists on Simons’ Twitter account. The podcast episode was originally released in September 2018, but it no longer appears on Gillis’ podcast website.
The footage dimmed celebrations of staff writer Yang’s promotion to full-time cast. Yang is only the third Asian person to be cast in the show in 45 seasons. (Former cast members Fred Armisen and Rob Schneider are of Asian descent.)
Comedian and Groundlings member Chloe Fineman was also welcomed to the cast of “SNL” on Thursday.
Gillis’ racist jokes weren’t anything new for some people in Philadelphia’s comedy scene, where the comedian worked for years.
Kate Banford, co-owner of the Good Good Comedy Theatre in Philadelphia, told Vulture on Thursday that her theater stopped working with Gillis “because of racist, homophobic, and sexist things he’s said on and offstage.”
Gillis released a statement Thursday night that amounted to a nonapology, saying he’s a comedian who “pushes boundaries” and whose jokes “sometimes miss,” despite the remarks he made being objectively racist.
“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,” he wrote on Twitter. “My intention is never to hurt anyone but I am trying to be the best comedian I can be and sometimes that requires risks.”
This article has been updated with a response from Gillis.