‘Saturday Night Live’ and Shane Gillis: Emmy Attendees on Whether He Should Be Fired

Variety | 9/16/2019 | Michael Schneider
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“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s” Luke Kirby received the Emmy for guest comedy actor this weekend for his portrayal of legendary comic Lenny Bruce, who was famous for shocking audiences with his edgy routines and often got in trouble for it.

So it’s a bit of a coincidence that one of the hot topics on the red carpet during this weekend’s two Creative Arts Emmy ceremonies was the question of comedy, taste, and whether there should be consequences when it comes to offensive and racist “jokes.” The “Saturday Night Live” conundrum — in which Shane Gillis was hired as a featured player, despite a lengthy history of racist language on podcasts and in YouTube videos, leading to calls for his firing — spawned the latest debate.

Statement - Week - Gillis - Comedian - Boundaries

In a statement late last week, Gillis wrote, “I’m a comedian who pushes boundaries. I sometimes miss.” But Gillis is no Lenny Bruce, and racist language — even under a guise of “comedy” — is much less tolerated in 2019. On both Saturday and Sunday, Variety asked various comedians, performers and writers for their thoughts on the controversy — and the general consensus (at least among those who were aware of the Gillis situation) was that it’s complicated. No one wants to look like they’re trying to limit what comedians say or do on stage, yet everyone agrees there can be consequences and push-back if you’re making racist, sexist or homophobic cracks solely to make fun of others without any larger point.

“My issue with comedian Shane [Gillis] is he said he’s ‘pushing boundaries,'” comedian and Emmy-winning “United Shades of America” host W. Kamau Bell said. “If you’re pushing boundaries, then be prepared to get pushed back against. That’s how it works. As somebody who sometimes pushes boundaries, I’m aware of when I get pushback. Tucker Carlson tried...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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