"I'm a Mad TV guy anyway"
September 17, 2019 10:25 AM   Subscribe

Even before its new season begins on Sept. 28, Saturday Night Live has fired new cast member Shane Gillis for "offensive, hurtful and unacceptable" language Gillis used on his podcast. The Good Good Comedy Theatre in Philadelphia chimed in with a tweet saying the establishment chose not to work with Gillis because of his "overt racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia - expressed both on and off stage." Other new cast members joining the show's 45th season are Chloe Fineman and Bowen Yang.
posted by Clustercuss (94 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Worst "Sorry if you were offended" statement ever.
He may be a MadTV guy, but considering how diverse that cast was, they may not have been a Shane GIllis cast.
posted by Bill Watches Movies Podcast at 10:32 AM on September 17, 2019 [38 favorites]


Bowen Yang: posted by Etrigan at 10:33 AM on September 17, 2019 [14 favorites]


Naturally, he is going with the 'I'm a comedian!' defence.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:34 AM on September 17, 2019 [11 favorites]


Saturday Night Live has fired new cast member Shane Gillis

VOICE OVER ANNOUNCER GUY: “Live from New York it's the least amount of effort you could do to demonstrate you're not a bigoted racist Lorne and you still only have one asian cast member, do better.....”
posted by Fizz at 10:35 AM on September 17, 2019 [15 favorites]


Just occurred to me that, given all of this, there's a 100% likelihood that right now someone is frantically making calls to check into the possibility of reviving Mad TV as an obnoxious "politically incorrect" sketch show.
posted by COBRA! at 10:40 AM on September 17, 2019 [17 favorites]


Is the first Asian-American cast member

I saw a report describing him as the first "full-Asian" cast member, to differentiate him from previous cast members with Asian ancestry. I don't know what to do with that, but it's kind of creeping me out...
posted by mr_roboto at 10:50 AM on September 17, 2019 [14 favorites]


I grew up in comedy, normally I'd side with the comedian and say any topic is fair game.
I watched the podcast clip and it wasn't comedy, just two dumb guys trying to be offensive on mic with no irony, no script, no actual jokes.They set out to be racist and they were. Fuck those guys.
posted by w0mbat at 10:52 AM on September 17, 2019 [40 favorites]


""I'm a comedian who pushes boundaries," he wrote."

Watching the 'sketch', there was no pushing of boundaries, just two bros shooting the shit and being casually racist, hoping that maybe something would turn out funny.

Pushing boundaries means being careful and considered. It means planning your work. Comedy is serious business, and there was none of that here. There was only laziness. That laziness was made clear by this guy picking racist ideas right at the front of his head.

Good riddance.
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:52 AM on September 17, 2019 [37 favorites]


I love these white straight cis male comedians who seem to think that it's still 1985 and you can use racial slurs in your "comedy" with no consequences.

Plus, if that's your go-to, you gotta try harder to be "edgy" in 2019 when Julio Torres exists.
posted by Automocar at 10:54 AM on September 17, 2019 [11 favorites]


"I'm more of a MAD TV guy anyway" is fucking hilariously pathetic, mr. comedy man.
posted by nikaspark at 10:57 AM on September 17, 2019 [16 favorites]


It's always the same with these guys. "I was just joking!"

Dude, we get that it's a joke. Our problem is that it's a joke that's only funny to racists.
posted by jcreigh at 10:57 AM on September 17, 2019 [85 favorites]


Looking forward to SNL cancelling themselves. @StateIsles
This is an SNL clip from 2014 and it’s funny as hell. Always been one of my favorites of the decade. They’re playing Chinese sweatshop laborers. Nasim Pedrad straight up says “Probrem”. Is this different from Shane Gillis?
(video attached to tweet, can't seem to link it directly)
posted by Space Coyote at 11:00 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Pushing boundaries means being careful and considered.

If history has taught us anything it's that white guys, as a group, have no boundaries other than their own inflated sense of well being. There is no possible way that any white dude in 2019 can "push boundaries" around white male identity in the sense of expressing some heretofore "forbidden" area of expression and even the attempt to "push the boundaries" of any other group from a white dude is automatically suspect because epithets and slurs have so long been the standard form of expression. Maybe it's time to reconsider the whole notion of boundary pushing as raison d'etre for comedy.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:08 AM on September 17, 2019 [18 favorites]


Racist jokes aren't funny because they all have the same punchline. If you've heard one, you've heard them all. And hoo boy, do white men on Facebook get mad when you point that out.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:23 AM on September 17, 2019 [28 favorites]


I liked Demi Adejuyigbe's take:
where the hell did this idea that comedy is supposed to "push boundaries" come from. who taught all these guys that the peak form of comedy is "i'm not touching you" but with racism

comedy is not supposed to be about 'taking risks.' comedy is a small yellow boy with spiky hair being choked by his dad who has two hairs
...and a few hours later,
i am endlessly annoyed that this tweet has turned into people trying to analyze what comedy "is" at me. comedy doesn't "have to" do anything comedy can be a cat wearing a big pair of shoes stop trying to over-intellectualize humor i absolutely do not give a shit
posted by Monster_Zero at 11:25 AM on September 17, 2019 [49 favorites]


comedy is a small yellow boy with spiky hair being choked by his dad who has two hairs

So child abuse and domestic violence are funny?

a cat wearing a big pair of shoes

Okay, now that's funny.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:32 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


comedy is a small yellow boy with spiky hair being choked by his dad who has two hairs

So child abuse and domestic violence are funny?


thatsthejoke.gif
posted by Etrigan at 11:35 AM on September 17, 2019 [23 favorites]




I don't know the guy at all, but I expect he could parlay this into several dollars by becoming the new darling of the conservative entertainment world. They are always looking for new blood/cause celebres/aggreived mainstream entertainment world cast-offs. He can Rosanne Barr can be the new Martin and Lewis.
posted by hwestiii at 11:42 AM on September 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


Looking forward to SNL cancelling themselves. @StateIsles
This is an SNL clip from 2014 and it’s funny as hell. Always been one of my favorites of the decade. They’re playing Chinese sweatshop laborers. Nasim Pedrad straight up says “Probrem”. Is this different from Shane Gillis?
(video attached to tweet, can't seem to link it directly


The trouble with conservatives is, that since they see the world in black & white, they think everyone else does too. Gillis and SNL can both suck.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:58 AM on September 17, 2019 [12 favorites]


cjane87: “Political correctness is killing comedy, here are 87 separate specials entitled ‘Triggered’ or ‘I Blew Up Your Safe Space,’ or ‘I Beat Your Trigger Warning to Death with a Shovel’"
posted by tonycpsu at 12:10 PM on September 17, 2019 [22 favorites]


Plus, if that's your go-to, you gotta try harder to be "edgy" in 2019 when Julio Torres exists.

Gillis and SNL can both suck.

What's weird about SNL and the the state of comedy and really pop-culture in general is that both of these sentences can be incredibly true. Artists at SNL continue to be sometimes genius and often pushing the mainstream in new directions and the institution as a whole can still be trapped in the past, often problematic, and do more harm than good when you try to make the carry the banner you're interested in them supporting.

('2019 SNL as the 2019 Democratic Party' is the article I will avoid writing right now but it's a free hot take idea that's up for grabs if you're interested.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:12 PM on September 17, 2019 [15 favorites]


Holy crap, the podcast clip is worse than I expected. An infuriating part is they brushed right past what would have been a legitimately interesting topic. Dude wonders aloud how chinatown started, but instead of using that to explore the fascinating story to answer that question, they just veer into a bunch of casually racist bullshit that wouldn't even be interesting or funny if you were a self-assessed racist.
posted by GoblinHoney at 12:12 PM on September 17, 2019


There are an infinite number of funny things. If you subtract everything that is hateful from that infinite amount of funny things, you still have an infinite amount of funny things to work with.

Want to really be edgy? Mine a vein that hasn't been mined a billion times already. Gillis' humor in those podcasts is pointlessly, unthinkingly racist but it's also profoundly lazy. Indeed, his "Mad TV" punchline is shockingly lazy - one wonder's why he didn't just go with the old "SNL hasn't been funny in years" chestnut.

I have dealt with dozens - maybe hundreds - of comedians in my life who use "edgy" as a synonym for "lazy, dumb and hateful." I hereby condemn "edgy" to the same MRA linguistic graveyard that "virtue signalling," "SJW" and "white knighting" belong in.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:22 PM on September 17, 2019 [31 favorites]


From @ira:
I’m a designer who pushes boundaries. I sometimes miss. If you go through my 10 years of designing clothes, you’re going to find a lot of bad misses. My intention is never to hurt anyone but I am trying to be the best designer I can be and sometimes that requires Dalmatians.
posted by mhum at 12:40 PM on September 17, 2019 [80 favorites]


Can we start a pool on how long till he appears on Joe Rogan to announce his new right-wing comedy show co-starring Gavin Mcinnes premiering at 4a on OANN?
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:40 PM on September 17, 2019 [17 favorites]


Heard this on NPR this morning. Even the clip they pulled, avoiding what I assume to be worse language and vocabulary, was basically him saying,


"I'd rather listen to a shitty, obnoxious phone playing the worst song I can imagine than listen to people speaking an Asian language in a resteraunt."

There was no joke. That was it. He's a shit human.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:57 PM on September 17, 2019 [21 favorites]


I had to sit through a work outing the other day where my male coworkers tried to accuse me of being a prude because I'm not into "comedy" where the entire joke is "people are different from me and that makes me better than them" and then one of them proudly regaled some stupid thing Chappell said in his latest special about if you complain about the jokes you're the one who made them offensive by calling them out so you're the one who should feel bad about yourself and I was just like ok so his big insight is "I'm rubber you're glue whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you". It's something kids were throwing around at 10. Nothing stays funny forever, people grow up and cultures grow up. We just want something that's actually funny.
posted by bleep at 1:01 PM on September 17, 2019 [34 favorites]


I don't know who the first Asian-American cast member might have been, but both Rob Schneider and Fred Armisen have Asian ancestry.
posted by maxsparber at 1:03 PM on September 17, 2019


Not a cast member but production designer Akira Yoshimura appeared in several skits. I only point this out to throw shade on Schneider and Armisen.
posted by cazoo at 1:13 PM on September 17, 2019 [9 favorites]


lets maybe leave rob schneider out of this . . .

via his twitter:

Dear @Shanemgillis
As a former SNL cast member I am sorry that you had the misfortune of being a cast member during this era of cultural unforgiveness where comedic misfires are subject to the intolerable inquisition of those who never risked bombing on stage themselves.


Emphasis mine.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:15 PM on September 17, 2019 [7 favorites]


The fact that he's an incredible piece of shit doesn't mean he wasn't a cast member with Asian heritage.
posted by maxsparber at 1:18 PM on September 17, 2019 [26 favorites]


Let’s talk about SNL’s most important new cast member: Bowen Yang:
In his first season writing for SNL, Yang has already written some memorable, funny sketches like “Cheques,” starring guest host Sandra Oh, which he co-wrote with Los Espookys’ Julio Torres.

He is..plenty capable of...character types, though, as demonstrated in this Comedy Central sketch in which he plays a fashion designer.

Here’s the comic doing standup on HBO’s 2 Dope Queens.

Yang has also built up a Twitter following for his uncanny lip syncing abilities...You can go down the full rabbit hole of these videos here.

He co-created with fellow comic Matt Rogers the comedy podcast, Las Culturistas, which in turn birthed the indispensable one-minute pop culture rant “I Don’t Think So, Honey.” This segment has proven so popular that Rogers and Yang regularly tour it, getting however many local comedians they can muster (like, 50 of them) to go off on their own IDTSH rants.
posted by youarenothere at 1:38 PM on September 17, 2019 [26 favorites]



If you can’t lose something big, big-time, how is this sort of comedy taking a risk? When a guy tightrope-walks across Niagara Falls, nobody gets too shocked when he slips into the drink and dies - that was a consequence of the risk. Being on National TV, live, involves a massive amount of trust, including trusting the performer not to yell the n-word when he’s bombing in front of America.

Also, in a landscape where anyone can do anything they want as long as it makes money, the worst thing you can be is bad for the brand.
posted by chinese_fashion at 2:04 PM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


"proudly regaled some stupid thing Chappell said in his latest special about if you complain about the jokes you're the one who made them offensive by calling them out so you're the one who should feel bad about yourself and I was just like ok so his big insight is "I'm rubber you're glue whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you."

I've been struggling to put into words how and why that Chapelle special was so bad. Up until now I've been trying to peg it as it all sounding like the most basic and popular "unpopular opinions" from a redditor. Pushing buttons for the sake of pushing buttons with no regard as to what the buttons mean, along with an attitude of looking down on those who rightfully care about what the buttons actually mean and when/why/if to press them at all. It's a weird perspective where being offended is treated like an assault on the comedian, as if there were nothing worse than being held responsible for your own speech and actions.
posted by GoblinHoney at 2:18 PM on September 17, 2019 [21 favorites]



comedy is a small yellow boy with spiky hair being choked by his dad who has two hairs

So child abuse and domestic violence are funny?


thatsthejoke.gif
posted by Etrigan at 7:35 PM on September 17
[9 favorites +]


Um. I rather think that was the joke.
posted by howfar at 2:34 PM on September 17, 2019


Yeah and also in my comment I didn't mean to imply that racist jokes were funny at one time but all this noise from comedians who are upset that actually having to make people laugh *is the job* and people saying "This didn't make me laugh and I don't want more of it" while I'm sure it's personally upsetting *is* acceptable for us to do as your audience.
posted by bleep at 2:37 PM on September 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


If you can’t lose something big, big-time, how is this sort of comedy taking a risk?

Exactly. Chappelle and this dude and others of their ilk want to show me how brave they are, how willing they are to reach out and tweak the nose of any group out there because no group is sacred or beyond the reach of their mighty comedy arms? Book a show in Riyadh and tell mocking jokes about the House of Saud. Book a show in Nuevo Laredo and tell jokes about the Zetas that involve broad, coarse and juvenile stereotypes. Book a show in a dying Rust Belt town and tell jokes that make light of the real struggles and pain folks there are feeling.

I'm not saying that some of the possible consequences of doing those things would be right, but if these dudes aren't willing to risk doing them, they're not as far out on the edge as they would have us believe, and are instead bullies, striking out at groups they know can't really hurt them in return.
posted by lord_wolf at 2:46 PM on September 17, 2019 [55 favorites]


""I'm a comedian who pushes boundaries," he wrote."

It's pushing boundaries to make racist jokes like the ones my uncle Alvin used to make half a century ago when I was a kid? Uncle Al at least had the excuse that he was born in 1922; what's this guy's excuse?
posted by octothorpe at 2:51 PM on September 17, 2019 [10 favorites]


those who never risked bombing on stage themselves.

Ah, comedy, the second most dangerous job (first most dangerous is being a cop).
posted by atoxyl at 3:08 PM on September 17, 2019 [12 favorites]


Yeah, privileged people reminding not-privileged people about their relative positions is the exact opposite of "boundary-pushing". It's reinforcing the status quo--and reinforcing the ugliest parts of the status quo. There's nothing artistic or imaginative or surprising about it. Even if you could justify being an asshole by saying, "Well, it's in the service of good art"--which you can't--it's not even good art.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 3:10 PM on September 17, 2019 [15 favorites]


For a supposedly "liberal" show SNL sure has produced an awful lot of Libertarians, Republicans, and regular old right wing cranks. (Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, Dennis Miller, Jon Lovitz, David Spade, Colin Quinn, Norm MacDonald, Victoria Jackson, probably both of the dudes who are currently hosting Weekend Update...)
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:20 PM on September 17, 2019 [14 favorites]


Pushing boundaries in the way he means it is kind of bullshit in general. The most deliberately offensive/annoying/minimalist/transgressive etc music, art, writing, and performance has all been done, again and again. Each new generation tends to revisit it as if it’s new, and then eventually figures out that shock value (for example) is kind of dullsville. If on top of that it’s mean in a punching down sort of way, yech.
posted by freecellwizard at 3:48 PM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Interesting how “If you go through my 10 years of comedy, most of it bad, you're going to find a lot of misses” becomes “I’m a comedian who was funny enough to get SNL.”

As we’ve noted, of course, both things can be true. But it doesn’t speak well of anyone involved.
posted by nickmark at 5:11 PM on September 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


That SNL hired this guy in the first place, and that Michael Che is coming back, are both ill omens for the coming season. Expect the lead up to the election to feature lots of both-sides-ism and gags about whiny millennial feminists named Megan.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:14 PM on September 17, 2019 [20 favorites]


> and that Michael Che is coming back

This. Che seems to be there just to put a marginalized face on bog standard Maher-esque "Republicans are bad, but liberal SJWs are the real fascists" bullshit. He's terrible at the simple task of reading the jokes on the cue cards, and ruins bits by laughing too much (which doesn't work as well on Weekend Update as it does in a regular sketch). He manages to be the smuggest prick on the screen every week despite sharing that screen with Colin fucking Jost.

Weekend update itself hasn't evolved to match the times we're living in, but if you're going to do a bunch of hacky political jokes that do nothing other than normalize Trump, the least you can do is use people who are good at delivering a joke. Gillis getting booted means I'll probably fast-forward through SNL instead of ignoring it entirely this season, but I'm basically done with Weekend Update until they replace those clowns.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:37 PM on September 17, 2019 [8 favorites]


OH RAD this is the moment I realize I've met Bowen Yang, 'cause he's a friend of a friend and dude is so wonderful and funny. That night he did the Tyra lip-sync and dang if it wasn't so good.
posted by lauranesson at 6:02 PM on September 17, 2019 [7 favorites]


It was This One right here. Ahhh, so good.
posted by lauranesson at 6:06 PM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


This is a really one-sided conversation metafilter!
Didn't we cover this with Seinfeld's dentist?
Doesn't anybody remember the punchline from the Aristocrats?
posted by abcanthur at 7:07 PM on September 17, 2019




For anyone who wants a palette cleanser, check out this post about Lilly Singh, the first queer woman of colour to get her own late night talk show. We should all watch and subscribe to support her. We need more diversity like this on screen. It's inspiring.
posted by Fizz at 9:04 PM on September 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


That SNL hired this guy in the first place, and that Michael Che is coming back, are both ill omens for the coming season. Expect the lead up to the election to feature lots of both-sides-ism and gags about whiny millennial feminists named Megan.

It just isn't fair that Micheal Che might see white women as politically suspect or actively harmful just because most of them voted for Trump.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:25 PM on September 17, 2019 [12 favorites]


I haven't watched any of the offensive clips. But Henry Golding retweeted a tweet calling for Gillis' removal, so I'm glad that Gillis was ultimately fired
posted by knoyers at 10:36 PM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


it just isn't fair that Micheal Che might see white women as politically suspect or actively harmful just because most of them voted for Trump

Che doesn't go after the white women who voted for Trump. He endlessly goes after feminist millennial women who absolutely did not vote for Trump. I'd call Che "politically suspect or actively harmful."
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:55 PM on September 17, 2019 [14 favorites]


A good way to tell who's more interested in culture war bullshit than comedy is including Norm MacDonald in a list of SNL alums who have somehow turned to the dark side.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:56 PM on September 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


those who never risked bombing on stage themselves.

Well, I've risked bombing for 20 years (including tonight) and my question is, if you're so edgy, what is the truth that you're telling? Chris Rock is a truly edgy comic because he fucking GOES THERE and pulls it off, because his unique take on reality is dangerous and bold and original. Chapelle, is he really giving us an insight into trans folks? Maybe, but I'm not seeing it.

Shane Gillis is a lazy hacky piece of shit telling jokes we heard in 3rd grade, ching chong accents and calling less offensive comics "faggoty." What truth is he telling?

Some comics that I think are currently edgy and insightful that you may not have hard of are (on twitter)

@adampasi
@Curtis_Cook
early @solomongeorgio
@mariabamfoo
@MohanadElshieky
posted by msalt at 2:10 AM on September 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


Chapelle, is he really giving us an insight into trans folks? Maybe, but I'm not seeing it.

No, he isn't. It's not just you not seeing it. Signed, a trans person.
posted by Dysk at 2:27 AM on September 18, 2019 [9 favorites]


A good way to tell who's more interested in culture war bullshit than comedy is including Norm MacDonald in a list of SNL alums who have somehow turned to the dark side.

I'm not sure how to parse this statement but Norm MacDonald is a bigoted dickhead and about as funny as an infected boil.

I hereby condemn "edgy" to the same MRA linguistic graveyard that "virtue signalling," "SJW" and "white knighting" belong in.
Is "culture war" in there?
posted by aspersioncast at 5:01 AM on September 18, 2019 [8 favorites]


Pretending Norm MacDonald is objectively not funny despite the existence of the moth joke video is something, whatever you want to cal lit.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:50 AM on September 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


Racist jokes aren't funny because they all have the same punchline. If you've heard one, you've heard them all. And hoo boy, do white men on Facebook get mad when you point that out.

Thanks Faint of Butt, I'm saving this one for Thanksgiving.
posted by cmfletcher at 6:06 AM on September 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


I think any hack comic who says they're testing boundaries should be forced to open for Stewart Lee, with the stipulation that Stewart will open his set with a ten minute dissection of theirs.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:25 AM on September 18, 2019 [10 favorites]


‘SNL’ Sought Conservative Appeal With Shane Gillis Hire (Joe Otterson and Michael Schneider, Variety)
According to sources, the long-running NBC comedy show and series mastermind Lorne Michaels were actively looking to cast a comedian for its new season who would appeal to more conservative viewers. This was meant to counteract the appearance of a liberal bias on the show, given that it has seen a major resurgence in popularity in recent years with Alec Baldwin regularly portraying President Donald Trump while other cast members and guest stars have played members of his administration and those in his orbit. […]

Many of those who spoke with Variety agreed that “SNL’s” vetting process was “severely lacking” in this case, as Gillis was well-known in comedy circles for using the type of language and remarks that ultimately led to the show cutting ties with him before he ever made it to air. Michaels took the weekend to gather information before making Gillis’ firing official on Monday. This was clearly a learning lesson, and one that will lead to a much more extensive vetting process, insiders added. […]
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:35 AM on September 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


A good way to tell who's more interested in culture war bullshit than comedy is including Norm MacDonald in a list of SNL alums who have somehow turned to the dark side.

Have you read his twitter feed in the last few days? He’s gone off the deep end and his superfans are the worst people on earth. (And I never said he wasn’t funny btw)
posted by Atom Eyes at 7:02 AM on September 18, 2019 [7 favorites]


One moth joke does not make up for literally everything else.
posted by maxsparber at 7:31 AM on September 18, 2019 [5 favorites]


Clearly Shane Gillis is funny to someone, too.

To me, Norm MacDonald is about as funny as fat jokes, which he has also made plenty of.

Which is to say, not. Fuck that guy.

(Incidentally, the first comment on that video is literally lamenting how PC everything has become).
posted by aspersioncast at 7:34 AM on September 18, 2019 [2 favorites]




> Pretending Norm MacDonald is objectively not funny despite the existence of the moth joke video is something, whatever you want to cal lit.

Pretending that you alone can define what "objectively funny" is for anyone else is something as well. Sorry it's your ox getting gored this time, but Norm McDonald is a gaping asshole. That he's funny to you and many other people doesn't change that.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:35 AM on September 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


I really love the term "gaping asshole" as a burn, so much so that I nearly Googled it to see if that was an original or something in common use. Stopped myself in time, though.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:33 AM on September 18, 2019 [14 favorites]


‘SNL’ Sought Conservative Appeal With Shane Gillis Hire

Oh wow. When this whole thing broke and the first podcast snippets came out, I was thinking in my head "what if SNL thought that they needed balance out the first Asian-American hire with... a guy who's casually racist against Asians?" Turns out it's not exactly that, but it's not not that.
posted by mhum at 9:41 AM on September 18, 2019 [13 favorites]


Forgive me, I can't remember where I saw this- whether it was a special or an interview, but Dave Chappelle once made the point that cruelty is necessary in comedy because you need a power imbalance to make a joke.

I disagree. In any joke where the person is trying to be "edgy", the active ingredient in the joke is its absurdity, not its racism, sexism, misogyny, etc.

This need to emphasize cruelty comes from another part of American culture, not humor/comedy per se, but the need to celebrate cruelty and dominance/ruthlessness. If someone is being a bully, the lesson often proffered isn't that bullying is wrong, but that the victim needs to get a thicker skin and punch back. It's psychopath culture.

I feel like comedians like Shane Gillis are so steeped in cruelty-fetishizing/bro culture that they can't conceive of not being cruel. They start conflating cruelty with humor.
posted by ishmael at 9:49 AM on September 18, 2019 [15 favorites]


To be fair, I think we should appreciate edginess and risk-taking in comedy! I was impressed by this at the time: Buddy Cole Butches Up the Sochi Olympics for The Colbert Report
posted by dubitable at 9:52 AM on September 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


Forgive me, I can't remember where I saw this- whether it was a special or an interview, but Dave Chappelle once made the point that cruelty is necessary in comedy because you need a power imbalance to make a joke.

Even if, for the sake of argument, assume that Chappelle is correct, it doesn't mean that society can't have standards for which type of cruelty is acceptable. Nobody does blackface and sings Mammy anymore. That's because it's just too "cruel" to take pot shots at people like that. It's just not socially acceptable anymore. Why? Because the cruelty is just for the sake of being cruel. It's why punching down in comedy is becoming less and less acceptable. With the shift away from reaffirming the fragile ego of the straight white male of its superiority (which is exactly what Gillis was doing) in comedy (which Gillis was not) to more generalist comedy, it speaks more truth to power.

Comedy doesn't require cruelty. It requires timing plus tragedy. The tragedy of today is that America still has to fight stupid battles to achieve its lofty vision by its founders. The timing is that it's over 200 years of fighting those same battles yet everyone agrees on the end goal, that we hold the truth to be self evident that all are created equal.

See? Comedy. America is a joke.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:00 AM on September 18, 2019


I was kind of surprised to find the things he had said were actually more blatant and overt than I’d anticipated. From the way people were defending him, I was expecting it to be a more subtle and insidious kind of racism. (And speaking of the people falling all over themselves to defend him, some of whom are of Asian descent themselves, wtf.) But no, it was all the stuff kids in my elementary school used to say about Asians.

Congrats, Shane Gillis. You’re now in a hot competition with all the eight year olds who used to imitate a “Chinese accent,” pull the sides of their eyes out at me and say “chinky chinky Chinaman.” Real edgy.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:58 AM on September 18, 2019 [10 favorites]


Two things: I've long thought Lorne might be Republican; and this whole thing helps prove that there's no such thing as right-wing comedy. The Republican party is oriented around racism, cruelty toward the powerless, cheating, and various other sins. How do you write comedy in that room?
posted by rhizome at 11:08 AM on September 18, 2019


How do you write comedy in that room?

Literally that dickhead with the puppets, apparently.
posted by aspersioncast at 11:47 AM on September 18, 2019


Michaels took the weekend to gather information before making Gillis’ firing official on Monday. This was clearly a learning lesson

It's so funny that someone who has been doing a job he invented, for the last 40 years, whether anyone actually wanted him to or not (SNL should be put out of its misery but it never will be), is still allowed "learning lessons" about extremely basic stuff like "how to hire someone" and "what supports actual funny moments being generated on my own show". The people in charge of our lives are so utterly incompetent.
posted by bleep at 12:24 PM on September 18, 2019 [18 favorites]


Pretending that you alone can define what "objectively funny" is for anyone else is something as well. Sorry it's your ox getting gored this time, but Norm McDonald is a gaping asshole. That he's funny to you and many other people doesn't change that.

Yes this! Only the metafilter comment section can define acceptable objective humor. (I happen to agree that Gillis is an asshole and not funny, joking aside.)
posted by Drumhellz at 2:30 PM on September 18, 2019


So, it ocurred to me that during this whole thing, the only material I've heard of Gillis' is the racist podcast excerpts. The people I've seen defending (or trying to defend) him seem mostly to be coming from a position of "the principle of the matter" rather than defending Gillis himself on his own merits. Unlike, say, Dave Chapelle or Norm MacDonald who both have enormous, decades-long bodies of well-publicized work, this guy seems to be a relative unknown. So, I went looking to what his stand-up is actually like.

Here's a six and a half minute chunk he did for Comedy Central and here's a 16 minute set he did at a Philadelphia record store. You can go watch these if you like to get a sense of what his comedy style (outside of his podcast racism) is like. I think the CC chunk is a little more polished and the record store set is a little looser. Overall, I found the routines mostly... not terrible (or, at least, not as terrible as they could have been) but also really not that great. The CC chunk felt especially bland/hacky to me. IMHO, based on these two bits, I have to imagine this guy must have fucking killed it in the audition room to have gotten the SNL offer because I'm frankly just not seeing it in this material.
posted by mhum at 2:59 PM on September 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


I don't think "being funny" was even something they wanted or expected from him, just a willingness to say stuff to get "liberals" all riled up.
posted by bleep at 3:34 PM on September 18, 2019 [7 favorites]


One very basic thing that is getting ignored in these discussions: SNL cast members are not standup comedians. They're comedic actors, who may not write any of their lines. A lot of good comedians have been guest hosts, but very few of the cast members are accomplished comics. Take Rob Schneider, for example. The main skill you audition for is doing accents and developing wacky characters. None of which has anything to do with being edgy.
posted by msalt at 4:35 PM on September 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


A good way to tell who's more interested in culture war bullshit than comedy is including Norm MacDonald in a list of SNL alums who have somehow turned to the dark side.

Well said! (he's always been that way)
posted by EmGeeJay at 5:35 PM on September 18, 2019


It's true, there haven't been that many standups in the SNL cast. Rob Schneider was one of them though, in fact one of the SNL members most established as a standup before joining, but that's pretty much only because Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon are a bit older and got hired right at the tail end of the San Francisco comedy boom. Anyway, he's sure turned into a dickhead, but like a lot of comedians who have tread a similar path, he used to be legit.
posted by rhizome at 5:41 PM on September 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


Was Rob Schneider legit though? That was before my time but I started in the SF comedy scene in the late 90s and never heard one person mention Schneider as a standup. I posted that clip because it seemed like super lame, going-through-the-motions standup betraying no talent whatsoever. Maybe he had some good early stuff?

The hot comics of recent past that people talked about in my experience were Dana Carvey (SNL), Dana Gould, Patton Oswalt, Robin Williams of course, Bobcat Goldthwaite and Robert Hawkins. Proops, W, Kamau Bell and Arj Barker were future stars dominating the scene.

If SNL wants a somewhat conservative comic, Robert Hawkins is the guy they should get.
posted by msalt at 6:25 PM on September 18, 2019


For a supposedly "liberal" show SNL sure has produced an awful lot of Libertarians, Republicans, and regular old right wing cranks. (Chris Farley...

Wait, what don't I know about Chris Farley? He didn't survive long enough to turn into a grumpy old racist...
posted by LizBoBiz at 1:54 AM on September 19, 2019


Rob Schneider has also never been funny. His standup was awful.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:03 AM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


SNL doesn't have a liberal bias -- it's always been a conservative show that favors the status quo (Norman Weiss / TVTattle)

This highlights a few articles (and many examples) that reinforce the view that assuming SNL is inherently liberal or progressive is a mistake. It is, at it's core, part of the establishment.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:53 AM on September 19, 2019 [4 favorites]


I find it strange that people in this thread treat funny as if it's some kind of inherent binary.

People can sometimes be funny and sometimes be offensive. They can also be both funny and offensive, but that's not a good look on them even though they wish so fervently that being funny made being offensive acceptable. They can also be neither funny nor offensive, like 90% of the people who show up at open mike nights.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:59 AM on September 19, 2019 [5 favorites]


SNL doesn't have a liberal bias -- it's always been a conservative show that favors the status quo

It's similar to how conservatives have always tried to paint the media as having a liberal bias. At the micro level there's a grain of truthiness, as the majority of journalists are more left-leaning as individuals. However, zoom out and observe the people and companies who actually own the papers and the TV networks and the radio stations and you'll see they're all about as pink as a pair of Charles Koch's underwear.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:28 AM on September 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


It might feel like Gillis is set up to be right wing America's comedian now and nothing he could do would screw that up.

He found a way though.

FOX NEWS: Shane Gillis jokes Trump would be 'funniest' president to 'see get shot'

That makes him seem less like a right winger and more like a troll who can't stop shitting his pants.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:36 AM on September 19, 2019 [4 favorites]


God he's like a mainstreamed 4channer
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:45 AM on September 19, 2019


to no one's surprise he's naturally doubling down on his pathetic idiocy and saying that he's reading all his death threat tweets in an "asian accent"

what a fucking loser
posted by poffin boffin at 11:46 AM on September 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


It's ironic that the shitty white guy got the job over a plethora of better qualified minority applicants because of a quota they felt they needed to fill.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:44 PM on September 19, 2019 [3 favorites]




Let’s start with his willingness to apologize to anyone “actually offended.” This is what pretty much every Real Housewife grudgingly says on almost every episode when forced to apologize for bad behavior: “I apologize if you took offense.” This is not an admission of wrongdoing, but a disingenuous side-eye accusation that the other person took unreasonable umbrage.

Kareem is simply one of the top 5 living Americans. Always so clear, direct, and simple, he breaks down in eight paragraphs what internet people have spent the past eight months (years?) squabbling about. I have a hard time believing that anybody who tries taking the "con" position against this could do anything more than build a diving board into quicksand.
posted by rhizome at 9:38 AM on September 20, 2019 [4 favorites]


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