Shane Gillis Was Too Radioactive for ‘Saturday Night Live’ But Good to Go for ‘Bupkis’

Lorne Michaels proves no comedian is ever truly canceled
Shane Gillis Was Too Radioactive for ‘Saturday Night Live’ But Good to Go for ‘Bupkis’

You could call comedian Shane Gillis the original Funny Guy Who Lost A Job For Podcast Stupidity. Gillis was announced as part of Saturday Night Live’s class of 2019 along with Chloe Fineman and Bowen Yang, the show’s first Chinese-American cast member. So when a podcast surfaced featuring Gillis using a racial slur referring to Chinese people and mocking a Chinese accent, it just shone an even harsher light on the problematic behavior. Another podcast where Gillis tossed around homophobic slurs sealed the deal. Gillis was out of a job before he got a chance to start it.

“I’m a comedian who pushes boundaries,” Gillis said at the time in a statement that implies he isn’t sure if he actually offended anyone. “I sometimes miss. 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. My intention is never to hurt anyone but I am trying to be the best comedian I can be and sometimes that requires risks.”

SNL producer Lorne Michaels was also issuing statements. A spokesperson speaking on Michaels’ behalf said, “The language (Gillis) 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.”

So it was surprising to see that Shane Gillis is showing up next month in Bupkis, the new Pete Davidson show on Peacock executive produced by Lorne Michaels. The timing is especially jarring in light of other actors and comics being called out for podcast idiocy in recent weeks. All of the positive buzz around Beef evaporated after old podcast audio surfaced wherein costar David Choe told a story about a massage encounter that turned him into “a successful rapist” (Choe’s words). And TikTokers dug up multiple podcasts with comedian Bobby Lee talking about sex with a young girl in Tijuana, turning the comic into a social media villain. 

Gillis, appearing on Bupkis in a small role as Davidson’s friend Gilly, appears to be back in Lorne’s good graces, despite his SNL dismissal only a few years ago. If nothing else, it’s another example of comedians never truly being canceled, even in the face of behavior that wouldn’t fly in the most tolerant of workplaces. Were Gillis’ transgressions so heinous that the comedian should never work again? Offensive comedians have a right to try to make a living — it’s simply unexpected that Lorne Michaels is the one giving Gillis another chance. 

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