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Report: 'SNL' Wanted to Appeal to Conservatives with Now-Fired Shane Gillis

Wednesday Sep 18, 2019
Shane Gillis
Shane Gillis  (Source:Phil Provencio/NBC via AP)

After Shane Gillis was fired from "Saturday Night Live" for using Asian slurs and making homophobic remarks on a recent podcast, Variety is reporting that the show hired the comedian in the first place in order to appeal to conservative viewers.

Sources told the publications that "SNL" and producer Lorne Michaels were actively looking to cast a comedian for its 45th season who would woo a conservative audience. Variety writes the hire of such an actor/comic was meant to "counteract the appearance of a liberal bias on the show, given that it has seen a major resurgence in popularity in recent years with Alec Baldwin regularly portraying President Donald Trump while other cast members and guest stars have played members of his administration and those in his orbit."

Though "SNL" usually hires comedians from improv groups like The Groundlings, Second City, and The Upright Citizens Brigade, Gillis, auditioned using part of his stand-up routine. Variety reports his usual jokes didn't land him in hot water but it was racist comments and homophobic remarks he made on a podcast.

Variety adds:

Gillis' casting was also announced just three weeks prior to the launch of the season in keeping with the show's habit of making last-minute hiring decisions. This likely contributed to the show not performing a more thorough examination of his past material before announcing he was joining the cast. It also likely precluded anyone from going through the many hours of Gillis' podcast material that was available before he began scrubbing past episodes from the internet.

When it was announced that "SNL" had fired Gillis earlier this week, a spokesperson for Michaels said he was hired "on the strength of his talent as a comedian and his impressive audition."

"We want SNL to have a variety of voices and points of view within the show," they said, later adding, "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."

Sources told Variety that the vetting process for "SNL" is "severely lacking."

The announcement that Gillis would join "SNL" came with two other cast members Chloe Fineman and Bowen Yang — the first openly gay Asian America player in the show's history.

Gillis took to Twitter to respond to the decision by "SNL."


A number of comedians have defended Gillis in the wake of his firing, including former "SNL" cast member Rob Schneider, as well as Bill Burr, and Jim Jefferies.

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