Two Asian-Canadian actors are happy with “Saturday Night Live’s” decision to fire a new cast member who made racist and homophobic remarks on a podcast.
The Canadian star tweeted that she was “glad to see” the NBC show had decided to “NOT legitimize/give platform [to] purveyors of racist homophobic content.”
She then referred to Gillis’ statement attributing his offensive comments to taking “risks” as a comedian, and saying he would apologize “to anyone who’s actually offended.”
“Risks? LAZY ASS UNORIGINAL,” Oh tweeted.
Simu Liu, also a Canadian and Marvel’s newest superhero, also weighed in to add that he was happy about SNL’s decision, given that Gillis “refused to show remorse for what was very evidently hate speech.”
An “SNL” spokesperson said Monday, four days after Gillis was announced as a new cast member, that he would not be joining the show when its new season premieres later this month.
The decision followed freelance comedy writer Seth Simons’ tweets on Thursday featuring clips from a 2018 podcast co-hosted by Gillis. Gillis used racist slurs, including calling people of Chinese descent “fucking chinks,” and mocked Asian accents on the show.
Other reporters later pointed out more examples of problematic remarks by Gillis, who also referred to comedians who have spoken openly about mental health as “white faggot comics,” and ranked comedians using their race, gender and sexual orientation.
Both Oh and Liu went on to congratulate other new cast members, Chloe Fineman and “SNL” writer Bowen Yang. Yang actually played North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a sketch with Oh when she hosted “SNL” earlier this year, which inadvertently highlighted the show’s dearth of Asian performers.
Yang’s promotion makes him the show’s first Chinese American cast member, and one of only a handful of Asian and LGBTQ comedians to join “SNL,” which has run for more than four decades.
Oh was only the third Asian woman ever to host the show when she appeared in March. “SNL” has long been criticized for a lack of diversity and inclusion.
But not everyone is on the same page. Another Canadian comic, SNL alum Norm Macdonald, tweeted his sympathy out to Gillis. “The work it takes to get that show and to have it snatched away by some guy who does ‘Spoken Bird’ poetry. Unacceptable,” he wrote. He appeared to be going after Simons, who first brought Gillis’s remarks to the public, and who may have once posted a video to YouTube where he made bird sounds.
Macdonald went on to respond to many of the people who disagreed with him. He also posted a link to the story about Gillis’s firing and wrote “this means WAR,” a tweet he pinned to the top of his timeline.
Macdonald himself was fired from ‘SNL’ in the 90s, reportedly because of his jokes calling O.J. Simpson a murderer during the height of the heavily publicized murder trial. (NBC’s West Coast president Don Ohlmeyer was reportedly a friend of Simpson’s.) Macdonald now says he’s “not completely sure” if Simpson is guilty.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in November, Macdonald defended disgraced comedians Roseanne and Louis C.K., and added that he’s “happy the #MeToo movement has slowed down a little bit.”
With files from Maija Kappler.