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Celebrity Slam - So long, Shane Gillis

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There are weeks when this feature essentially writes itself. Something ridiculous is said or done by/happens to an incredibly famous person and we’re off to the races. Maybe there’s an incongruous and surprising Twitter beef. Maybe a celebrity couple makes it official. Whatever – it happens a lot.

But then there are the weeks – much more infrequent – where we’re left to decide whether or not we want to cover a particular story. For whatever reason, it isn’t necessarily an item that really demands that we cover it. It’s too complicated or too serious or too … something.

So we weren’t sure that we were going to weigh in on the whole Shane Gillis thing. But hey – nothing else presented itself, so we’re just going to go ahead and wade in. Wish us luck.

Gillis is the comedian who was announced – along with Chloe Finneman and Bowen Yang – as a new cast member on “Saturday Night Live.” However, it was only a matter of hours before a number of troublesome instances from Gillis’s recent past cropped up. Specifically, a podcast recorded about a year ago where Gillis went hard on some racist stereotypes and caricatures, specifically regarding people of Asian descent.

(We won’t go into the specifics – odds are you can put it together on your own.)

When this information came to light, there was some back and forth in the days that followed. Gillis issued an apology (well, “apology”) on Twitter, calling himself a “comedian who pushes boundaries” and that that pushing leads him to “sometimes miss.” He added that he was “happy to apologize to anyone who’s actually offended by anything I said.”

(Note the HEAVY lifting being done by a word like “actually.”)

After some back and forth, “SNL” head honcho Lorne Michaels went ahead and dropped the hammer, firing Gillis from the show. The comedian’s response was about what you’d expect, stating “I’m a comedian who was funny enough to get SNL. No one can take that away from me.” He wrote that he understood that he’d be a distraction and that he understood the decision before getting in one last dig:

“I was always a mad tv guy anyway.”

We’re not going to sit here and argue the validity of Gillis’s comedic choices. Not because we agree with them – although we don’t – but there are plenty of dudes out there looking to make their name by acting a manner they deem edgy. Some guys (and they’re usually guys) think that these sorts of dusty stereotypes are funny; enough people agree with them to keep them onstage.

(Again, it should be noted that the podcast interview in question contains very little material that one would consider “jokes,” though we’ll concede that there’s maybe a semantic argument to be made. Not a very good argument, but an argument.)

No, we’re here for “SNL.” Because here’s the thing: Michaels and company absolutely know that stuff like this will 100 percent torpedo a new hire. So why would they not take an hour and, oh, Google the guy or something? By all accounts, it was not difficult to find the offending material in question. So why didn’t they?

It screams of laziness. No doubt the dude had a great audition – he must have to get the call to be on the show. Super – now do your due diligence. One would think that an institution like “SNL” would have some sort of vetting mechanism in place, but this whole debacle makes it clear that they very much do not. Because again, regardless of your personal feelings with regards to the relative humor of Gillis’s choices, you still have to maybe know about them? Your writers’ room might not give a s—t, but there are plenty of people out there who absolutely do.

If you’re in the “Just joking/People are too easily offended” camp, well … you’re entitled to your opinion. It’s not where we land ourselves, but if that sort of edginess is what you demand of your comedians, then you do you. But the reality is that words and deeds have consequences. We’re not comedy experts, but that, we know.

And now Shane Gillis knows it too.

Last modified on Wednesday, 18 September 2019 04:38

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