Fired 'SNL' cast member Shane Gillis to host next episode (2024)

In case there was still any question whether "cancel culture" is real, Shane Gillis, who was fired from the Saturday Night Live cast before his first episode for using racist and hom*ophobic slurs that the show deemed "offensive, hurtful, and unacceptable," has been invited back to host the next episode.

During Saturday's new episode hosted by The Bear Emmy winner Ayo Edebiri, it was announced that Gillis — who unapologetically called himself "always a Mad TV guy anyway" after SNL expressed regret for hiring him — will be hosting the Feb. 24 episode with musical guest 21 Savage.

In September 2019, the stand-up comedian was announced as one of three new featured players set to join the season 45 cast along with Chloe Fineman and then-writer Bowen Yang, who became the show's first Chinese American cast member. But Gillis was fired just four days later following fan outcry over surfaced recordings of him using racist, including anti-Chinese, and hom*ophobic slurs on his podcast.

A surfaced video from a 2018 episode of Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast showed Gillis making racist remarks about Chinese people. "Chinatown’s f---ing nuts," Gillis says in the clip with Matt McCusker. "Let the f---ing ch--ks live there, huh?" he says, before doing a mock Chinese accent. He later refers to the conversation as "nice racism, good racism." On a different podcast, Gillis called then-Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang a "Jew ch--k." (Yang forgave Gillis and invited the comic on his own podcast.) In other podcast episodes, Gillis used anti-gay slurs on multiple occasions and at one point called director Judd Apatow and comedian Chris Gethard "white f----t comics" and "f---ing gayer than ISIS."

EW has reached out to representatives for SNL to provide clarity over the decision to invite Gillis back after previously denouncing his behavior and whether any cast or crew were consulted or informed prior to the hosting announcement on Saturday.

When announcing Gillis' firing, SNL apologized for not being aware of his prior remarks and admitted the "vetting process was not up to our standard."

"After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining SNL," a statement from a show spokesperson on behalf of executive producer Lorne Michaels said at the time. "We want SNL to have a variety of voices and points of view within the show, and we hired Shane on the strength of his talent as comedian and his impressive audition for SNL. We were not aware of his prior remarks that have surfaced over the past few days. 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."

Gillis released his own statement afterward, not apologizing for using the slurs and even taking a jab at the long-running sketch series he was nearly part of: "I'm a comedian who was funny enough to get SNL. That can’t be taken away. Of course I wanted an opportunity to prove myself at SNL, but I understand it would be too much of a distraction. I respect the decision they made. I’m honestly grateful for the opportunity. I was always a Mad TV guy anyway."

Sandra Oh, who had recently hosted SNL at the time of the announcement, praised the decision to fire Gillis, writing on social media: "Glad 2 see [SNL] decision NOT legitimize/give platform 2 purveyors of racist hom*ophobic content Risks? LAZY ASS UNORIGINAL."

Former cast member Bill Hader also weighed in when asked his opinion in the Emmy press room following his Lead Actor in a Comedy win forBarry. "I feel like you shouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings," Hader said. "Especially in comedy, you do stuff six or seven years ago that wouldn’t be okay now for good reason so I only speak for myself but, like anybody, you have to grow. I think it’s a good thing. I’m never interested in upsetting anybody."

Gillis' firing over the slurs only increased his popularity with the conservative anti-"woke" crowd. In the years since his failed stint on SNL, Gillis has continued to podcast and tour. His debut stand-up comedy special, released on YouTube in 2021, has 23 million views. His second special Shane Gillis: Beautiful Dogs landed in the Netflix Top 10 after its release last September. He also recently announced a partnership with Bud Light, following the brand receiving right-wing backlash over partnering with trans actress and activist Dylan Mulvaney.

Although Gillis' return may be the most controversial, he is far from the first fired cast member invited back to host the show. Damon Wayans, who was fired after sabotaging a live sketch, was invited back as host in 1995; Robert Downey Jr. spent only a year on the cast when he was just 20 and returned to host in 1996; "Weekend Update" anchor Norm Macdonald was fired by an NBC exec who said he wasn't funny enough but was invited back to host less than two years later and roasted the show in his monologue; Sarah Silverman, who was let go after one season in a cast shake-up, returned to host in 2014; Chris Rock, who was let go in 1993 over expressing interest in joining rival show In Living Color, has hosted three times and made numerous cameos since; and Adam Sandler, who was technically axed in 1995 alongside fellow SNL great Chris Farley, has made several cameos and hosted in 2019, where he addressed his firing in a monologue song.

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Fired 'SNL' cast member Shane Gillis to host next episode (2024)

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