How ‘cancelled’ comedian Shane Gillis made a comeback, from SNL to Netflix (2024)

How ‘cancelled’ comedian Shane Gillis made a comeback: from returning to SNL after being dropped over racist and hom*ophobic remarks, to his podcast with Matt McCusker and new Netflix show Tires

In 2019, Shane Gillis was fired by Saturday Night Live (SNL) before his debut and only a week after he was announced to be joining the show. He was “cancelled” for his racist, hom*ophobic and misogynistic comments, and his future was uncertain.

But he continued working, self-releasing a stand-up special on YouTube. Over the last few years, he has slowly made his way back to mainstream media, landing a deal with Netflix with his comedy show Tires, which premiered in May. The funny man is back on screens, and is now a central figure in the controversial “accepting racism” or “fighting wokeness” debate.

Here’s what you need to know about him.

How Shane Gillis made his comeback

In May, Netflix show Tires launched with Gillis, 36, not only acting in the show, but serving as a writer, co-creator and executive producer. The first season has six episodes and follows the character Will, played by Steven Gerben, who runs his father’s auto repair chain in attempt to rescue the business. Will’s cousin Shane, played by Gillis, is one of his staff members. Other cast members include Chris O’ Connor, Stavros Halkias and Kilah Fox.

The show has received mixed reviews, with The Washington Post writing, “Forget Seinfeld. Tires is really a show about nothing.” According to Variety, Tires began in 2019 as a pilot on Gillis’ YouTube channel, which was later developed as a six-episode show that Gillis funded.

Just ahead of Tires’ premiere, Netflix confirmed that the show had been renewed for season two. Per Deadline, the deal adds to the relationship between the streaming giant and Gillis, which saw him perform at three Netflix is a Joke Festival shows in Los Angeles.

Netflix has also commissioned a stand-up special from Gillis that will air in 2025. It comes after his 2023 special Beautiful Dogs made the Netflix Top 10 in five countries. That’s quite a big deal, considering that, just a few years ago, his career was uncertain after he got cancelled.

What was Shane Gillis’ fallout with SNL?

How ‘cancelled’ comedian Shane Gillis made a comeback, from SNL to Netflix (2)

In 2019, it was announced that Gillis would be one of the new SNL cast members for its 45th season. Soon after though, that relationship was terminated after clips of Gillis using racist, hom*ophobic and misogynistic language on his podcast and previous stand-up shows began circulating on social media.

Per Variety, in one episode of his podcast, Gillis was discussing Chinatown in New York with his co-host McCusker when he said, “Let the f***ing ch***s live there.” In another episode, the pair were discussing the Battle of Gettysburg and Gillis called the soldiers “so gay”, also using the f-slur.

Gillis remained unapologetic, however, posting to social media, “I’m a comedian who was funny enough to get SNL. That can’t be taken away.” He added, “I respect the decision they made. I’m honestly grateful for the opportunity.”

What happened after the SNL incident?

Per The New Yorker, Gillis told Joe Rogan in a podcast, “I don’t want to be a victim – I want to be a comedian. I get it – I understand why I was treated that way. I said wild s***. I’m going to keep saying wild s***.”

According to Spectator, he was paid US$50,000 by SNL and kept in touch with the executive producer, sending in clips of his comedy and podcast.

How ‘cancelled’ comedian Shane Gillis made a comeback, from SNL to Netflix (4)

In 2021, his Live in Austin comedy show was released on YouTube to massive success, with over 27 million views at the time of writing. Per Variety, Gillis produced his own sketch comedy series, Gilly and Keeves, which was turned into a full length special.

Additionally, in February this year, he was used in advertising campaigns for Bud Light. The company faced massive backlash and dwindling sales after collaborating with influencer Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender woman, to promote the drink, reports Forbes. Gillis was brought in to attract the lost customers.

(The Bud Light situation in a nutshell? The beer brand sponsored an Instagram post of Mulvaney’s, which sparked transphobic backlash and calls for boycotts. Then, its CEO released a lukewarm statement that some considered not supportive enough of the LGBTQ+ community – so those consumers ended up frustrated too, per ABC News.)

In a full circle moment, he was invited back to host SNL in 2024. The decision to rehire him prompted fierce debate over whether the move was “forgiv[ing of] racism”, as well discussion of comedy and free speech.

How did Shane Gillis get into comedy?

How ‘cancelled’ comedian Shane Gillis made a comeback, from SNL to Netflix (5)

According to a New Yorker profile, Gillis initially played football at West Point but eventually transferred to Elon University in North Carolina. He didn’t do well though and was asked to leave after “neglecting his studies”. Per the publication, it was at that point that he returned home and started washing dishes to earn a living.

He began doing stand-up at a local bar while selling cars to make money. In 2016, he won Philly’s Phunniest competition and got asked to be Dan Soder’s opening act while on tour. Per Vox, he later met Matt McCusker and they began a highly successful podcast, Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast.

How ‘cancelled’ comedian Shane Gillis made a comeback, from SNL to Netflix (6)

The podcast has since become so successful, it has over 80,000 Patreon subscribers at the time of writing.

How ‘cancelled’ comedian Shane Gillis made a comeback, from SNL to Netflix (7)

How ‘cancelled’ comedian Shane Gillis made a comeback, from SNL to Netflix (2024)

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