For the Record – Comedy in Color

Savannah Erasmus / September 17th 2019

Saturday Night Live, a longrunning comedy/sketch show announced 3 new cast members for the upcoming 45th season last week. Bowen Yang, Shane Gillis and Chloe Fineman were added to the roster.

The official announcement was shared on Twitter.

Saturday Night Live’s official casting announcement.

On September 16th SNL announced that they had fired Shane Gillis.  The news came after a video showed Gillis making racist remarks and using racist slurs. The video was shared online.

A statement was released on behalf of Lorne Michaels, the executive director of SNL. 

“We were not aware of his prior remarks that have surfaced over the past few days. The language he used is offensive, hurtful and unacceptable. We are sorry that we did not see these clips earlier, and that our vetting process was not up to our standard.” – Lorne Michaels, Executive Director

The statement also said that Gillis was hired based on his talent and a strong audition.

After the statement was made, Gillis made his own statement on his Twitter account.

“I’m a comedian that was funny enough to get SNL and no one can take that away.”

Many people online said that the video was racist and agreed with SNL’s decision, where others said it was an example of free speech.

Sasha Mark, a local Indigenous comedian agreed with the move by SNL, as he doesn’t believe in using racist remarks and racist slurs as a punchline. He added that this is why comedy is not as diverse as it could be.

“Being a person of color, and comic these are the types of things you see all the time and it is so disheartening.” – Sasha Mark, Indigenous Comedian

Mark says many comedians hide behind the “free speech” argument to make homophobic, racist and transphobic statements. He adds that the conversation surrounding SNL points to a larger issue of proper representation in media.

Listen below to hear more from Sasha Mark, a local Indigenous comedian.

He explains his opinion on the SNL controversy and his experience as a comedian of color.