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The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Is Shane Gillis a problem?

Are Gillis’ Past Remarks Indicative of Who He is Now?
via instagram @shanemgillis
Shane Gillis and Steve Gerben

The following does not represent the views of Loyola University Maryland, the Greyhound, or Loyola University’s Department of Communication.

Comedian Shane Gillis was once a cast member of Saturday Night Live five years ago, if only for a few days. Gillis was booted from the show after previous racist and homophobic comments were brought to light by those displeased with his addition to the cast. This should have killed any momentum Gillis had built in the comedy world, but since then his career has only exploded, and he is now one of the most popular comedians on the planet. This was spurred on by his podcast, Matt And Shane’s Secret Podcast, his appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience and his very own Netflix special, Beautiful Dogs. With all this momentum, Gillis was able to make a return to SNL to host at the end of February, but not everyone is excited for the comic’s return. 

One’s digital footprint is impossible to escape, and that is very much the case for Gillis. Earlier on in his career, Gillis was known for edgy sense of humor, and refusal to not shy away from any subject when it came to comedy. Gillis is still known for this style of humor, but has seemed to tone it down, especially when the lights are brightest, like Netflix and SNL. The particular offense that got Gillis booted from SNL his first time around was anti-asian slurs used, and his mocking of Asian accents by saying ‘nooders’ instead of noodles. Gillis has since apologized, claiming that he was a “comedian who pushes boundaries.” Despite his booting from the show, it seems that there was no bad blood between him and the show, and their reunion at the height of his popularity seems like a no-brainer on paper. 

Loyola students are part of Gillis’ main demographic, and it seems that he is very popular with some of them. Sam Harter ‘27 admires his comedy.

 “He’s willing to say what he thinks is funny,” Harter said

This facet of Gillis’ comedy seems to be his main selling point for his fans. First-year James Case believes that comedy has to be a little edgy to be funny.

“I just think that’s the whole point of comedy. If you aren’t edgy, you aren’t a very good comedian,” Case said.

 “You got to be sure that it’s a joke, and not just a micro aggression,” Case said.

First-year Trygve Watkins agrees.

 “As long as it’s not trying to put people down [it’s funny],” Watkins said.

However, when it comes to comedians it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between shock humor style jokes, and jokes that are thinly veiled attempts to express actual views. Dave Chapelle is a prime example of this, as a few years ago he got into trouble after expressing transphobic views in a standup act that he would later clarify as his actual position. Other comedians like Kevin Hart, who joked about beating his son for playing with girl toys, have been called into question on whether their comedy can actually be separated from their actual life. Bobby Lee told a story, which he now clarifies as a joke, on the DVDASA podcast about how he slept with an underage prostitute in Mexico. One trademark of standup is that many of the jokes told are through the lens of an anecdote or funny experience the comic had, which can sometimes make it hard to determine whether it is an actual event or just made up for the set. 

“Everything he says is comedic, especially if he says it on camera.” This thought process allows him to separate Gillis the comedian from Gillis in the stories he tells. “He’s in character, I wouldn’t take it seriously.” Case said.

Watkins’ main thoughts when it comes to edgy comedy is that, “If someone makes a joke that passes the line, it really depends on the context.” 

Gillis is no stranger to controversial topics. With Trump, terrorism, and his disabled family members being recurring topics in his comedy. Gillis manages to approach these topics neutrally, at least in his specials, and does not betray any political beliefs when talking about them. His discussion of his special needs family members and the stigma around people with special needs in general actually seems to be very helpful and positive in general.

“People who don’t listen to him think he’s more edgy than he actually is,” Harter said. 

Despite attempts to deplatform Gillis, his career continues to grow, with him being given a miniseries called Tires by Netflix, which is set to air in May. Gillis’ fans are ardent that he is only edgy for comedic sake, and that he doesn’t have ulterior motives with his comedy. Whether or not Gillis’ style of humor will become more mainstream and widespread however, remains to be seen.  

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