Shane Gillis Addresses 2019 'SNL' Firing in Opening Monologue, Thought Jokes Would 'Get a Bigger Laugh'

Shane Gillis
NBC via Getty Images

The stand-up comedian hosted 'SNL' this weekend with musical guest 21 Savage.

Shane Gillis used his Saturday Night Live opening monologue to address his 2019 firing from the variety sketch series. 

On Saturday, the stand-up comedian took on the coveted role of SNL host nearly five years after he was fired from a cast position for using racial and homophobic slurs on a podcast. While addressing the crowd from the stage inside Studio 8H, he brought up the controversy and told the audience to not bother doing their research into his past if they don't know anything about what went down. 

"I'm here," the 36-year-old said at the start of the almost eight-minute monologue. "Most of you probably have no idea who I am. I was actually -- I was fired from this show a while ago. But, you know, 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."

NBC via Getty Images

As the opening went on, Gillis went into his personal brand of in-your-face comedy, talking about his sister marrying an Egyptian man and the couple adopting three Black children after fostering, which he made a joke about, likening going over to their house to "getting into the craziest Uber Pool you've ever been in." 

He then pivoted to jokes about his family's experience having several loved ones with Down Syndrome -- a topic he has gone viral for in the past -- saying that they are "doing better than everybody I know," adding that they "are the only ones having a pretty good time consistently."

After mentioning that his niece has Down Syndrome, however, Gillis took a beat to awkwardly tell the audience that he "thought that was going to get a bigger laugh," in reference to the mention of the condition.

"This place is extremely well-lit. I can see everyone not enjoying it," he said at one point in the monologue while mentioning that he doesn't "have any material that can be on TV" as he is notorious for his NSFW jokes. 

Watch Gillis' opening monologue from the Feb. 24 episode in the player below: 

The decision to bring Gillis on as a host was a controversial one for the show after they previously announced he would not be making his SNL debut as a cast member after comments he made on a podcast resurfaced. 

At the time, SNL originally cast Gillis along with three other comedians -- including current cast members Bowen Yang and Chloe Fineman -- but he was let go shortly after video showed him mocking a Chinese accent and using racial slurs on his show, Matt and Shane's Secret Podcast. 

In another episode, Gillis and co-host Matt McCusker ranked comedians on how funny they were based on race and used homophobic slurs. 

In 2019, the comedian apologized on Twitter -- now called X -- saying that it was never his intention to cause any harm and that, as a comedian, sometimes attempted jokes can result in misses.

"I'm a comedian who pushes boundaries. I sometimes miss," Gillis wrote in a message. "If you go through my 10 years of comedy, most of it bad, you’re going to find a lot of bad misses. I'm happy to apologize to anyone who's actually offended by anything I've said. My intention is never to hurt anyone but I am trying to be the best comedian I can be and sometimes that requires risks."