Comic Shane Gillis, fired for homophobic remarks, gets Netflix series after SNL comeback

Shane Gillis.

Netflix has announced that it is to stream a new, six-part sitcom series starring controversial “anti-woke” comedian Shane Gillis, called Tires.

In addition to airing Tires, the streaming platform will produce a brand new stand-up special with the comic, following his debut special, Beautiful Dogs, which was released in September 2023.

Gillis made his comeback to US comedy series Saturday Night Live (SNL), over the weekend (24 February), almost five years after he was dropped from the show. He was fired a mere five days after he was announced as a new cast member.

He was binned by SNL after a 2018 episode of Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast, which he runs with fellow comedian Matt McCusker, resurfaced. The pair were seen making racist and homophobic remarks.

In one clip, they discussed a “hierarchy of stand-up comedy” in which they ranked comedians from specific groups, deeming white women the least funny. In other segments, the pair discussed Chinatown while talking in mock East Asian accents, before using the ethnic slur “ch*nks”.

The duo also referred to male comedians who discuss their mental health as “white f*ggot comics” and called them as “f*cking gayer than ISIS”.

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At the time, Lorne Michaels, who creates SNL, described the comments as “offensive, hurtful and unacceptable”.

Former SNL cast member Shane Gillis returns to show for opening monologue
Shane Gillis returned to SNL for the opening monologue. (Saturday Night Live/NBC)

Following the controversy, Gillis was further criticised for offering an apology “to anyone who’s actually offended”. He described himself as a comedian who “pushes boundaries” and admitted that he “sometimes misses” when making jokes.

“My intention is never to hurt anyone but I’m trying to be the best comedian I can be and sometimes that requires risks,” he said. 

Gillis returned to the SNL spotlight on 24 February 2024, using his opening monologue to make a joke about his firing from the show. “I’m here,” he said. “Most of you probably have no idea who I am.

“I was fired from this show a while ago. But don’t look that up, please. If you don’t know who I am, please don’t google that. It’s fine. Don’t even worry about it.”

The remainder of his monologue included quips about being his mother’s “gay best friend”, jokes about family members living with Down’s syndrome, and one comment that included the derogatory term “r*tarded”. It was not well received, with one reviewer calling it “uneasy”.

Tires, which will be released in May, is written by Gillis and will star his Gilly and Keeves collaborator Steve Gerben as Will, who, according to Variety, is a “nervous and unqualified heir to an auto repair chain” attempting to turn the fortunes of his father’s business around, “despite constant torture from his cousin and now employee, Shane (Gillis)”.

John McKeever, another of Gillis’ frequent collaborators, will direct the show.

Netflix has a history of commisioning specials from controversial comedians in recent years, notably Dave Chapelle. Chappelle has come under fire for his frequent comments about the trans community, including in his 2021 Netflix special The Closer, where he declared he’s “team TERF”, and made explicit jokes about trans women’s genitals

The release of The Closer prompted employee walkouts and protests at the time. While Netflix’s co-chief executive Ted Sarandos initially defended the comedian, he later said he “screwed up” in his reaction to the controversy. 

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