‘SNL’ Sought Conservative Appeal With Shane Gillis Hire

Variety | 9/17/2019 | Joe Otterson
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“Saturday Night Live” was looking to shake things up with the casting of Shane Gillis — and it did, albeit unintentionally.

According to sources, the long-running NBC comedy show and series mastermind Lorne Michaels were actively looking to cast a comedian for its new season who would appeal to more conservative viewers. This was meant to counteract the appearance of a liberal bias on the show, given that it has seen a major resurgence in popularity in recent years with Alec Baldwin regularly portraying President Donald Trump while other cast members and guest stars have played members of his administration and those in his orbit.

SNL - Members - Troupes - Groundlings - Second

“SNL” typically recruits cast members from improv troupes like The Groundlings, Second City, and The Upright Citizens Brigade, with the belief that even though they may lack onscreen acting experience, their time onstage with those groups would prepare them for the rigors of “SNL’s” weekly schedule. Auditions for such performers usually consist of character bits and celebrity impressions. It is believed that Gillis, who has no credited onscreen acting experience, auditioned using a portion of his stand up routine.

But Gillis didn’t get in trouble for his stand-up — his offensive language and racist comments came on his podcast, which isn’t a honed, developed routine. Podcasts have grown in popularity among comedians, but involve filling hours and hours with off-the-cuff remarks — and in the case of Gillis, filled with racist comments and impressions.

Gillis - Casting - Weeks - Launch - Season

Gillis’ casting was also announced just three weeks prior to the launch of the season in keeping with the show’s habit of making last-minute hiring decisions. This likely contributed to the show not performing a more thorough examination of his past material before announcing he was joining the cast. It also likely precluded anyone from going through the many hours of Gillis’ podcast material that...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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