Brow Beat

Shane Gillis Jokes About His SNL Firing in New York as Other Venues Cancel, Postpone Performances

Shane Gillis performs in front of a purple curtain.
Shane Gillis performs onstage at the 2019 Clusterfest on June 21 in San Francisco.
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for Clusterfest

In his first stand-up set since being dropped from Saturday Night Live, Shane Gillis said he’s “fine with the consequences” of the offensive comments that got him booted as a cast member before the season had even begun. USA Today reports that Gillis addressed the backlash during an 11-minute performance at The Stand NYC, telling the audience that he’s been avoiding social media since critics called attention to his history of racist, sexist, and homophobic remarks—including a video in which he uses an anti-Asian slur—shortly after his casting was announced.

“Twitter has been fucking nuts,” Gillis reportedly said Wednesday while wearing a shirt featuring the name of the podcast on which he made the comments. “You try to stay off it when the whole fucking country hates you. That’s not a fun feeling as a human. Especially when you never get to say your side at all.” Before his firing, Gillis did in fact release a short statement in which he called himself “a comedian who pushes boundaries” and said he was happy to apologize to those “actually offended” but offered no explanation for the substance of the remarks. It’s curious that he did not use that opportunity to “say his side” at the time, if indeed there was more to be said.

USA Today reports that during the routine, Gillis also said that he’s reading death threats directed toward him “in an Asian accent,” joked about Trump’s assassination, and compared being racist to being hungry:

“It’s funny to hear so many people these days say, ‘I’m not racist,’ ” Gillis said. “It’s like, are you sure? Being racist isn’t like a yes or no thing. It’s not like you do or you don’t have it. Being racist is like being hungry: It’s like, ‘Yeah, 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 is not Asian in that joke.”

Meanwhile, other venues have canceled or postponed scheduled appearances, seemingly amicably. The Helium Comedy Club in Indianapolis is expected to reschedule performances that were supposed to take place Friday and Saturday, at Gillis’ request. The Williams Center in Rutherford, New Jersey, has canceled an Oct. 19 performance by the comedian. And Acme Comedy Co. in Minneapolis confirmed that Gillis will no longer perform there at the end of October. “As of today, Shane’s representation and Acme have mutually agreed that, due to recent events, it is not the best time for Shane to be touring right now,” Acme’s general manager Derick Johnson told City Pages. “There were no hard feelings on either side of the cancelation.”

As Saturday Night Live’s new season premiere looms on Sept. 28 with new cast members Chloe Fineman and Bowen Yang, Gillis has found some support from SNL old-timers. Norm Macdonald told Gillis he was sorry the show had been “snatched away” from him. Rob Schneider initially seemed to defend Gillis on Twitter but walked back his support somewhat, suggesting that suspension would have been more appropriate rather than “destroying” Gillis.