Superstar comedian Shane Gillis is set to host Saturday Night Live next weekend alongside musical guest 21 Savage. The announcement comes a little over four years since Gillis was hired then almost immediately fired after social media users dug up an old podcast in which he made “racist” jokes about Asian people.
Though SNL was once viewed as an institution that launched the careers of dozens of high-profile comedians, including Will Ferrell, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Tina Fey and several others, the show has failed to produce stars in recent years. The show has also experienced a decline in ratings from its heyday, struggling to draw more than 4 million viewers for highly marketed season premiers.
The opposite has been true for Gillis, however, who has gone on to become one of the most popular comedy acts in the country since his untimely exit from Saturday Night Live. The Philadelphia-based comedian’s recent Netflix special has received rave reviews while Matt And Shane’s Secret Podcast, a podcast Gillis has hosted for years with fellow comedian Matt McCusker, has become one of the most popular comedy podcasts in the world.
Gillis has also headlined multiple sold-out tours and opened for comedy legends such as Dave Chappelle, in addition to becoming a regular on the Joe Rogan Experience.
It was a now-deleted 2018 episode of Matt And Shane’s Secret podcast that led to Gillis ouster from the show. Gillis and McCusker were discussing how Chinatown is generally found in a run-down area of a city, at which point Gillis said city officials probably said “let’s just have the ch*nks live here.”
Gillis was soon branded as a “racist” by the predominantly left-wing audience and SNL fanbase, prompting the show to fire him just days after announcing the hiring.
“After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining SNL,” a spokesperson said in a statement on behalf of producer Lorne Michaels. The statement further explained that Gillis’ remarks were previously unknown to Michaels — who has headed up the show since its inception — when Gillis was brought on.
After news broke that Gillis would be hosting the show, social media was set ablaze with speculation over the contents of his opening monologue. Many compared the return to that of the late Norm Macdonald, who torched the show’s executives in his return nearly two years after being fired himself.
“So you see, they fired me because they said that I wasn’t funny, you know? Now, with most jobs, I could have had a hell of a lawsuit on my hands for that, but see, this is a comedy show. So they got me, you know?” Macdonald joked. “But now, this is the weird part, right? It’s only a year and a half later, and now they asked me to host the show. So I wondered, I go, hey, wait a second here. Hey! So how did I go in a year and a half from being not funny enough to be even allowed in the building to being so funny that I’m now hosting the show?”
“The bad news is, I’m still not funny. The good news is, the show blows.”