Asian American groups demand apology from Shane Gillis over anti-Asian remarks

Comedian Shane Gillis, who is set to host “Saturday Night Live” on Feb. 24, is under pressure from Asian American advocacy groups demanding an apology and donations for his past racist remarks that led to his dismissal from the show in 2019.

by Michelle De Pacina 

Gilllis’ past anti-Asian comments

Shortly after the announcement of Gillis’ casting alongside Bowen Yang, a 2018 video of him using an anti-Asian slur — “f*cking ch*nks” — resurfaced online.

“Damn, Chinatown’s f*cking nuts. It’s crazy. It is full f*cking China, dude. It’s f*cking Chi-nee down there,” Gillis said in the video.

Gillis also spoke about how “an Asian trying to learn English” bothers him and used a mock Asian accent to portray his “difficulty” conversing with a waitress at a Chinese restaurant. The comedian has also previously used the n-word, the homophobic f-word and antisemitic slurs in his comedy.

Sparking controversy

The surprise decision from “SNL” to bring Gillis back to host the show sparked controversy, with social media users questioning and highlighting the show’s history of giving platforms to problematic individuals.

Demanding an apology

Asian American organizations such as the Asian American Federation and The Asian American Foundation (TAAF) have come forward to denounce his racist behaviour and demand an apology.

“Shane getting tapped to host is bad timing, considering the Asian community has been devastated by a wave of hate that started during the COVID-19 pandemic. People in the community don’t need to be reminded of the type of rhetoric that caused that trend,” Jo-Ann Yoo, the executive director of the Asian American Federation, told TMZ.

“Asian Americans are not the punchline of a joke. While these jokes may result in cheap laughs, they also result in real-world, deadly consequences for Asian Americans,” added TAAF CEO Norman Chen, who hopes Gillis will issue a “genuine” apology on the comedy show.

Advocate’s suggestion

Yoo suggested that Gillis can make amends to the Asian American community by contributing to campaigns like Hope Against Hate and participating in food tours to experience authentic Asian cuisine.

“If Mr. Gillis is serious about making amends with those he’s offended, we invite him to cut us a check to our Hope Against Hate campaign and come on our food tours if he wants a real Asian cuisine experience,” Yoo said. “Regardless, we still plan to watch the Bowen Yang Variety Hour on Saturday… sorry, we mean Saturday Night Live.”


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