NBC

Kenan Thompson Happy ‘Drama' With SNL Cast Member Who Used Slur Is Over

“Saturday Night Live” cast member Kenan Thompson said he’s happy the situation with a new cast member who used a racial slur has been handled. The show rescinded its invitation to Shane Gillis, who posted a video last year in which he used a racial slur for Chinese people and derided Asians trying to learn English.

“Glad we got rid of all that nonsense before it started,” he told NBC in Washington, D.C., Tuesday.

“Not to call it nonsense,” he continued. “It’s drama, but that’s not my department as far as the hiring and firing goes. But you never want to start off on an uncomfortable note for anybody.”

A show representative said Monday the language Gillis used was "offensive, hurtful and unacceptable" and the show was not aware of the past remarks that have drawn criticism.

The show apologized and said its vetting process "was not up to our standard."

In a tweet, Gillis said he respected the show's decision and is "honestly grateful for the opportunity." He said he had hoped to have the opportunity to prove himself, but "I understand it would be too much of a distraction."

In the clip of video apparently posted in 2018, Gillis refers to an unidentified city's Chinatown as being "nuts" and used a derogatory word for Chinese people. He also complained about "hearing an Asian trying to learn English."

The clip re-emerged last week just hours after NBC said he and two others, including the show's only Asian-American performer, were joining the cast as featured players.

"Saturday Night Live" has taken heat over the years for an overall lack of ethnic diversity, with scant Asian representation among its cast members or hosts.

Former players Fred Armisen and Rob Schneider both are one-quarter Asian, but neither has been widely recognized for their Asian ancestry. Among hosts, the long history of "SNL" includes a short list of Asian or Asian Americans, with Awkwafina, Aziz Ansari and Jackie Chan among them.

Thompson, who was in D.C. for the opening of the new headquarters of EVERFI, an education technology company of which he is a partner, also said he's going to miss working with his friend Leslie Jones, who isn't returning this season.

"We just were peas in a pod, you know what I mean?" he said. "Very similar kind of senses of humor, just trying to be chill and trying to come up with funny stuff.”

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