Shane Gillis Wants It Both Ways in Netflix Special ‘Beautiful Dogs’
Shane Gillis just can’t seem to stay out of trouble. The guy who got fired from Saturday Night Live before he even got started leads off his new Netflix special, Beautiful Dogs, with a story about landing in Australia for the first time. “Dude. This is your fucking country, dude? Other countries suck. America is number one.” Gillis wastes no time informing individual Aussies about America’s superiority, countered by questions about our country’s mass shootings. Gillis fires right back: “At least we’re not gay!”
On the @NetflixIsAJoke social channels, some Australians are upset: “Pretty bold from someone who lives in a country without free ambulance usage, free hospital coverage, four weeks of sick leave, and, of course, the fact that we can send out children to school without fearing that they will be mass-murdered.”
What’s the matter, Crocodile Offendee, can’t you take a joke? After all, Gillis is selling all of this xenophobic comedy with a self-aware wink that says, “I know you think I’m a white male creep, so I’m just playing along. I’m kidding, man, I’m kidding!”
Gillis knows that a certain part of his audience is irate at the racist and homophobic slurs that he threw around on podcasts, offenses that cost him the SNL job. But he also knows that another part of his audience, the true-blue fans who actually buy tickets, are here for that very thing — not the slurs necessarily, but the attitude. “Eff your political correctness, I’m going to say what I want. This is America!”
So Gillis spends most of Beautiful Dogs in a playful game of attack and retreat. Women? “I have no female friends,” he says. “I’m more of a having-a-good-time type of guy.” About his live-in girlfriend? “As soon as we’re done having sex, I wish that she’d fucking evaporate.” But hey, he’s just kidding: “I know that’s not the best joke of all time,” he giggles. “I understand that most of the women here are girlfriends that were dragged to this show that already don’t like me because every time they’re in their car, their boyfriends are like, ‘Listen to this part of the podcast.’ I’m aware.”
The homophobic slurs that got him in trouble a few years ago? They’re gone, but he’s still using “gay” as a euphemism for anyone who’s not a normal schlubby guy like Gillis. Navy SEALS are gay. Guys who are actually good at sex are gay. Australians? Well, as we’ve discussed, gay.
Gillis compliments Black people by playing the hits from 1980s stand-up comedy — white people need Black people to remind them they’re not cool! Black guys have big dicks!
He throws the r-slur around when goofing on reality show, Love on the Spectrum. But once again, he acknowledges his sins: “I know I said ‘retarded’ a couple of times. My bad on that. I’m not trying to give myself a pass on being able to use that word. But I will say, I don’t know if you can tell by looking at me, I do have family members with Down syndrome.”
Beautiful Dogs, which has taken the top spot on Netflix’s U.S. charts all week, is a certified hit and it’s likely due to Gillis’s canny way of having his cake and eating it too. The special is full of the comedian throwing red meat to fans tired of what they see as PC bullshit, while at the same time letting us know he’s in on that particular joke. He’s not a reactionary conservative (although he does confess that he might be in early onset Republican) — he’s just a smart comic giving the people exactly what they want, all with a self-deprecating grin that says “Can’t we all just have a beer and chill?” Considering that Gillis was about as canceled as a comic can get without actually committing a crime, It’s one hell of a comeback story. Will he get in more trouble? Probably — and I get the sense that’s just what he has in mind.