WASHINGTON — NBC on Sept. 16 announced the removal of Shane Gillis from the cast of “Saturday Night Live.”
Gillis was announced as a cast member last week along with Bowen Yang, who is only the third Asian American in history to star as a full-time “Saturday Night Live” cast member.
Gillis’ removal came after a public outcry over racist jokes that the comedian made in the past. CAPAC Chair Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena) and CAPAC First Vice Chair Rep Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) released the following statements.
“I want to thank ‘Saturday Night Live’ for making serious and good-faith efforts this week at hearing and responding to concerns from the Asian American and Pacific Islander community,” said Chu. “‘Saturday Night Live’ has a unique platform, not only for its popularity, but also for its ability to set a tone and standard of what’s funny for whole generations.
“That is why representation, like the casting of Bowen Yang, is so important. His casting will help more AAPIs feel included and see themselves in roles they have traditionally been excluded from.
“It is unfortunate that Bowen’s casting was overshadowed by the simultaneous casting of Shane Gillis, whose racist remarks perpetuate offensive stereotypes about the AAPI community. Racism is never funny. This is especially true for Mr. Gillis’ jokes, which were not isolated, but rather reflected a pattern of seeing humor in other’s differences.
“Mocking somebody’s speech or background is not pushing boundaries. Nor is it edgy. To the contrary, lazy jokes like that rely on old racist tropes that offer no commentary other than division.
“I am glad that NBC acted quickly and definitively to make clear that that this kind of comedy is not accepted on their network. And I hope that this will encourage others to push back against corrosive and racist remarks.”
“I’m pleased that NBC removed Shane Gillis from the cast of ‘Saturday Night Live’ after a video emerged of him making racist comments about Chinese immigrants,” said Meng. “The two-minute clip of him is utterly disgusting, and such racism has no place in our society.
“At the same time, I’m thrilled that SNL’s cast for the 45th season includes Bowen Yang, who is the first full-time Asian American cast member. I’m looking forward to watching Bowen this fall.”