Saturday Night Live Under Fire For Casting Comedian Who Made Racist Jokes Against Chinese People

The criticism comes on the heels of the praise they received for adding a full-time Asian American cast member.

When Saturday Night Live announced their writer Bowen Yang, a Chinese American comedian, would be added to the show as a full-time cast member for season 45, the internet let out a collective cheer; however, the feel-good vibes didn’t last long when it was discovered Shane Gillis, another new cast member for season 45, had previously made racist jokes against Chinese people and culture.

In a 2018 episode of his own podcast, Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast, Gillis made fun of everything in Chinatown, from the architecture to the food. He also used a mock Chinese accent and used the racial slur ch*nk.

“Chinese food is very dishonest cuisine.”

—Shane Gillis

In a statement posted to his Twitter account, Shane apologized to “anyone who’s actually offended” by anything he said.

While he said his intention was never to hurt anyone with his comedy, Kate Banford, who co-owns a Philadelphia comedy club shared with Vulture Magazine that he was banned from the club due to “racist, homophobic and sexist things he’s said on and off stage.”

You can be racist to Asians. That’s what we’re finding out.

—Shane Gillis

In discussing how he gets a reaction from his (primarily) white audience, Gillis was quoted as saying, “You throw stuff out there and you get to see them react to things, like yea or nay, what’s funny and what’s not. You can be racist to Asians. That’s what we’re finding out.”

Notable Asian Americans, including Simu Liu and Cindy Chu and authors Nancy Wang Yuen and Johnny Sun, took to Twitter to condemn Gillis for his racist jokes and half-hearted apology.

At this time, NBC hasn’t responded to the criticism of the casting nor to requests from the media for comment.