Stand-up comedian Shane Gillis, who was fired as a cast member of “Saturday Night Live” in 2019 before his debut for making racist remarks, will host the show on Feb. 24, the show announced Monday on social media.
Gillis has found success on his own in the past few years. He self-released a stand-up special on YouTube in 2021, which has received over 23 million views. He also landed a Netflix special titled “Beautiful Dogs,” which was released last September. Most recently, he shared news of his partnership with Bud Light for his upcoming stand-up tour.
But the comedian first gained mainstream attention after he was announced as a new cast member for season 45 of “SNL” in September 2019.
Days later, he was fired before the season premiere after a clip of him using an anti-Asian slur on his podcast went viral on Twitter (now X). Gillis received more backlash after other clips of him using offensive language circulated online at the time.
Gillis apologized, but expressed in interviews that he intended to continue making shocking or taboo jokes.
Gillis declined to comment to NBC News for this article.
The jokes that resurfaced stemmed from Gillis’ podcast with comedian Matt McCusker, “Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast.” In one episode, Gillis and McCusker riffed about Chinatown. Gillis used a slur and imitated a Chinese accent by using the word “nooders” instead of noodles.
“Let the f------ ch---- live there,” Gillis said in the podcast.
Gillis was hired at “SNL” at the same time as Bowen Yang, the show’s first Asian American cast member. People online pointed out the irony in the casting 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 a comedian and his impressive audition for SNL,” spokesperson for “SNL” executive producer Lorne Michaels told NBC News in 2019. “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.”
“SNL” airs on NBC, a division of NBCUniversal, which is also the parent company of NBC News. Representatives for “SNL” did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In apologizing in a now-deleted tweet, Gillis called himself a “comedian who pushes boundaries” that sometimes misses the mark.
“Of course I wanted an opportunity to prove myself on SNL, but I understand it would be too much of a distraction,” Gillis said at the time. “I respect the decision they made.”
In an interview with comedian Theo Von in 2021, he called the hiring and firing a “traumatic experience” and said he had nightmares about negative articles. However, he also stood by his comedy.
“I definitely wouldn’t have changed what we did on our podcast,” Gillis told Von. “That’s how I got to New York.”
He added that he knew he was “fired for sure” because “if they were mad about that, there’s a lot” of other jokes he had told that wouldn’t be acceptable.
“I don’t argue me getting fired because those are today’s rules,” Gillis said to Von, referring to contemporary boundaries of comedy.
Gillis has also received backlash for making homophobic jokes. In 2019, he used a slur during a bit about “hot Southern boys” being raped during the Civil War in an episode of “Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast.”
He told the New Yorker in 2022 that he avoids using homophobic slurs on stage because it’s more distracting than funny to audiences. However, the publication also pointed out that he used a slur during an appearance on “The Joe Rogan Experience” in which he did an impression of a tourist in Hawaii.
He has also made several gay jokes in his Netflix special. He said in one joke that “the gayer the army, the scarier,” partly because of the prospect of rape against men. This joke gained traction among some conservatives online.
Gillis’ comedy has been lauded for satirizing American patriotism and other hot topics in the so-called culture wars between liberals and conservatives. The New York Times’ comedy critic described him as “dumb and smart, cocky and self-mocking, homophobic but relentlessly self-aware.”
Despite appealing to conservatives, he has clarified that he is not “a conservative guy” on Von’s podcast.
“By [SNL’s] standards, yes I am,” he said on Von’s podcast in 2021. “But they weren’t like, ‘Oh let’s get this guy because he likes Trump.’ It’s like, no, I literally auditioned with a joke about Trump dying being funny.”