It seems Saturday Night Live was looking to court at least some controversy when they hired Shane Gillis, a “comedian” and fan of homophobic/racist slurs who was fired from the show roughly 45 seconds after it was announced he’d be joining.
According to Variety, SNL showrunner Lorne Michaels wanted to add a cast member who’d appeal to right-wing viewers–an apparent effort to balance out the show’s presumed liberal bias (and Alec Baldwin’s alleged Trump impression). Unfortunately, it seems no one bothered to vet Gillis, or even give him a cursory Google, which might have yielded the podcast recordings of him using Asian and homophobic slurs that surfaced shortly after his hire was announced, ultimately and rightfully costing him his gig.
Even without the Google research, it sounds like Gillis’s “comedic” style was pretty well known. Per Variety (emphasis mine)
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.
Yet Gillis’s style of racism masked as humor is still a common technique among those trying to own a brand of edgy. I’m no comedy expert, but based on my research, it sure seems like a lot of conservative comedians out there think the ultimate goal of comedy in 2020 is to “push back” on any effort to move away from tired stereotypes and “Take my wife!” quips. It comes as little surprise that Michaels’s effort to do an SNL both sides-ism backfired.
Besides, Baldwin or no Baldwin, Michaels certainly shouldn’t think he’s let conservatives down.