Bill Burr and Jim Jefferies bristled at the outrage directed at recent Saturday Night Live hire Shane Gillis. The veteran comics believed that Gillis losing his position at SNL over racist comments he made in the past was a bridge too far and they voiced their displeasure on an episode of David Spade's talk show Lights Out.
“This is just cancel culture,” Jefferies said. “The guy shouldn’t have been fired. It was just a couple things back in his history. We’re gonna go through everyone’s history?"
Burr said that comedians should not be held to the same standard as elected officials and that intense scrutiny of past sets was uncalled for. He called millennials a "bunch of rats" who only want to "get people in trouble."
“Do they go back and also try to look at things the person might’ve done, or are they just looking for the bad stuff?" he said. "I mean you could honestly do that to anybody. We’re not running for office, when is this gonna fucking end?”
While Spade didn't go as far as his guests, he did say there was less scrutiny of new hires when he was on SNL.
“I think when I was younger on ‘SNL,’ when you got hired the first move wasn’t to rifle through your past to make sure you get fired right away,” Spade said.
Jefferies, Burr, and Spade weren't the only comedians to speak out on the situation.
Rob Schneider took to Twitter to defend Gillis.
Dear @Shanemgillis— Rob Schneider (@RobSchneider) September 16, 2019
As a former SNL cast member I am sorry that you had the misfortune of being a cast member during this era of cultural unforgiveness where comedic misfires are subject to the intolerable inquisition of those who never risked bombing on stage themselves.
I think a suspension would be appropriate for someone who is part of an organization that says something terrible in a podcast from a year earlier. An honest,— Rob Schneider (@RobSchneider) September 17, 2019
sincere apology and also accepting it seems appropriate as well. Destroying someone does not.
Ricky Gervais also took to Twitter to seemingly address it all without mentioning Gillis' name.
Please stop saying "You can't joke about anything anymore". You can. You can joke about whatever the fuck you like. And some people won't like it and they will tell you they don't like it. And then it's up to you whether you give a fuck or not. And so on. It's a good system.— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) September 14, 2019
Gillis did have his defenders outside of the comedy, notably including presidential candidate Andrew Yang, whom Gillis called a racial slur in one of his offending bits. However, the support meant little, as SNL opted to release Gillis and apologized for not vetting him properly before the hire.
“We were not aware of his prior remarks that have surfaced over the past few days,” a spokesperson said, per Indiewire. “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.”