Saturday Night Live has announced three new cast members, including some rising queer talent – and a straight stand-up whose appointment has met with instant controversy.
Bowen Yang is a gay comic who has grown a large social media following with his lipsynch videos. He was previously employed in the writers’ room at SNL and made cameo appearances on the show: you may have seen him last season playing North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
He will now become a series regular for the 45th season. In doing so, he becomes the show’s first resident Chinese-American cast member.
He’s also the third openly gay male cast member after Terry Sweeney and John Milhiser.
Yang has previously appeared on Broad City and co-hosts a queer-flavored comedy podcast called Las Culturistas. Earlier this year, he featured in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in the Hollywood and Entertainment section.
The other two new cast members are improviser Chloe Fineman and stand-up Shane Gillis. However, the latter’s appointment has been met with controversy after old YouTube clips of Gillis cropped up.
In the 2018 podcast – since deleted from YouTube – Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast, Gillis and his co-host Matt McKusker talk about Chinatown, with Gillis using a racist term for Chinese people.
today SNL announced the hiring of its first cast member of East Asian descent, and also this guy pic.twitter.com/0FAGJZJUkK
— Seth Simons (@sasimons) September 12, 2019
In another clip, the men talk about confessional comics, dismissing them as ‘gayer than ISIS’ and ‘faggots’.
Gillis took to Twitter late last night to issue a swift response.
— Shane Gillis (@Shanemgillis) September 13, 2019
His statement said: “I’m a comedian who pushes boundaries. I sometimes miss. If you go through my ten years of comedy, most of it bad, you’re going to find a lot of bad misses. I’m happy to apologize to anyone who’s actually offended by anything I’ve said. My intention is ever to hurt anyone but I am trying to be the best comedian I can be and sometimes that requires risks.”
The response has not been anywhere near enough to satisfy many of his critics and prompted over 2,000 comments in less than 12 hours.
“Happy to apologize to anyone who’s actually offended” is such a weird sentence. pic.twitter.com/6Sik7l9T1s
— Little Latin boy in drag, why are you crying? (@Dnellicious) September 13, 2019
Fixed it for ya pic.twitter.com/MsAxXw6uUj
— Ana Rezende (@anarezende1919) September 13, 2019