Comedian Shane Gillis was fired from Saturday Night Live in 2019 mere days after he was cast when his past racist, homophobic, and ableist statements came to light. Gillis is now hosting SNL—and partnering with boycotted beer brand Bud Light.
Gillis’s new ventures seemed to please few.
Now, both SNL and Bud Light have gotten attacked from all sides.
Ahead of its forty-fifth season in 2019, SNL announced that it had cast Bowen Yang, Chloe Fineman, and Shane Gillis as new featured players on the popular sketch comedy variety show. But hours after the casting announcement went public, offensive statements Gillis made in 2018 resurfaced. On episodes of his podcast “Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast,” Gillis said racist, homophobic, and ableist slurs, made offensive statements about Muslim people and sexual assault, and mocked Chinese accents.
At the time, Gillis acknowledged his behavior in a now-deleted tweet. In it, he called himself a “comedian who pushes boundaries,” but sometimes he misses.
“Happy to apologize to anyone who’s actually offended by anything I’ve said,” Gillis tweeted in 2019. “I am trying to be the best comedian I can be and sometimes that requires risks.”
But four days after being cast on the show, Gillis was fired by SNL.
Fast forward five years and SNL announced yesterday that Gillis would be hosting its Feb. 24 show with musical guest rapper 21 Savage. Fans and contemporaries of Gillis have reacted to the news by congratulating Gillis and joking about the 2019 controversy.
“This is one of the raddest things I’ve seen and why you can’t complain when life throws you a ‘detour,'” comedian Dane Cook commented on Gillis’s Instagram post announcing the hosting gig. “Cuz it might be the road to the top. Congrats Shane!”
“The funniest thing Shane Gillis could do is present his entire monologue in a Chinese accent,” @bigcontentguy tweeted.
Fox News even called the turn of events Gillis getting the “last laugh.”
And, of course, many were outraged about Gillis’s return to the show.
“Where is the respect and consideration for your cast members of color, your queer cast members, etc etc etc?” Zoë Rose Bryant tweeted.
“SNL is now mocking the genocide of Palestinians while peddling anti-Black stereotypes about Chicago, having anti-Black Nikki Haley LIVE on stage,” Saira Rao tweeted, “& announced Shane Gillis as an upcoming host.”
Former Gov. South Carolina and presidential candidate Nikki Haley appeared in an SNL skit that aired on Saturday night in which she questioned cast member James Austin Johnson as former President Donald Trump. Also in Saturday’s episode, cast member Michael Che said that after Chicago called for a ceasefire in the Israeli-Hamas war, “Gaza called for a ceasefire in Chicago.”
But that’s not all: Last week, Gillis announced he’s partnering with Bud Light. The partnership is Bud Light’s latest in a string of deals—with UFC and country artist Zach Bryan—in the wake of its campaign with trans activist Dylan Mulvaney. After Mulvaney’s Bud Light ads went live on social media in 2023, the company received colossal backlash from conservatives who boycotted the beer brand.
Though Bud Light’s collaboration with Gillis might be yet another marketing ploy to redeem itself in the eyes of right-wingers, it fell flat for some.
“Bud Light is trying so hard and you sold out,” a comment on Gillis’s Instagram post announcing the partnership said.
“Bud Light appears to be in desperation mode,” right-wing media personality Colin Rugg tweeted.
Nor did the Gillis team-up end the nearly year-long boycott of Bud Light for hardliners.
“No Apology,” conservative YouTuber The Quartering posted on Truth Social, “No End Of Boycott.”