Comedians such as Bill Burr, Jim Jefferies, and Rob Schneider are sticking up for fired “Saturday Night Live” cast member Shane Gillis after controversial jokes from the past got the young comedian booted from the NBC sketch-comedy series. “SNL” issued a statement September 16 that it was parting ways with Gillis just days after announcing him as one of three new cast members for Season 45. Following Gillis’ hiring, racist and homophobic jokes he made in the past began circulating on social media and generating outrage.
Burr and Jefferies both appeared on the September 16 episode of David Spade’s Comedy Central talk show “Lights Out” (via The Wrap) and criticized “SNL” for making the decision to fire Gillis because of past jokes. “This is just cancel culture,” Jefferies said. “The guy shouldn’t have been fired. It was just a couple things back in his history. We’re gonna go through everyone’s history?”
Burr was even more incendiary, saying, “Do they go back and also try to look at things the person might’ve done, or are they just looking for the bad stuff? I mean you could honestly do that to anybody. We’re not running for office, when is this gonna fucking end?”
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“You millennials, you’re a bunch of rats, all of you,” Burr added. “None of them care. All they want to do is get people in trouble.”
Even Spade, a former “SNL” cast member, seemed to be hesitant about people who dig into the past looking for inappropriate behavior. “I think when I was younger on ‘SNL,’ when you got hired the first move wasn’t to rifle through your past to make sure you get fired right away,” Spade said.
Schneider, another “SNL” cast member for several years, used social media to condemn “this era of cultural unforgiveness where comedic misfires are subject to the intolerable inquisition of those who never risked bombing on stage themselves.” The comedian said that “SNL” and NBC should have suspended Gillis for his past behavior but not fire him.
“An honest, sincere apology and also accepting it seems appropriate as well,” Schneider added. “Destroying someone does not.”
“SNL” issued an apology for not appropriately vetting Gillis’s past when he was hired as a Season 45 cast member. “We were not aware of his prior remarks that have surfaced over the past few days,” a spokesperson for the show said. “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.”