Shane Michael Gillis, born on December 11, 1987, is a renowned American stand-up comedian, actor, and podcast host. Despite facing some controversies in his career, Gillis has managed to make a name for himself in the comedy industry. In this article, we will delve into Gillis’ early life, his rise in the comedy scene, his unfortunate departure from “Saturday Night Live,” and his continued success in stand-up comedy and sketch comedy.
Early Life and Education
Shane Gillis was born and raised in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, a town located near Harrisburg. He attended Trinity High School in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, where he was an offensive tackle for the football team. After graduating in 2006, Gillis briefly enrolled at West Point but decided to leave during his first year. He later attended Elon University, where he played football before ultimately graduating from West Chester University. Following his graduation, Gillis embarked on a six-month journey teaching English in Spain.
Early Career and Rise to Prominence
Gillis began his comedy career in 2012, performing regularly in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. To further his career, he made the move to Philadelphia. In 2015, he participated in Helium Comedy Club’s annual “Philly’s Phunniest” tournament, where he secured third place. The following year, Gillis won the tournament, solidifying his presence in the local comedy scene.
Throughout his early career, Gillis drew inspiration from notable comedians such as Louis C.K., Norm Macdonald, Dave Chappelle, Patrice O’Neal, Bernie Mac, and Bill Burr. In 2016, he co-founded the podcast “Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast” with fellow comedian Matt McCusker. The duo gained popularity, and Gillis’s comedic talent caught the attention of industry professionals.
In 2019, Comedy Central named Gillis an “Up Next” comedian, and he performed at Comedy Central’s Clusterfest. The same year, he was recognized as a “New Face” at the prestigious Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal. Gillis’s set at the festival was described as a perfect balance between self-deprecating humor and social insights, showcasing his unique comedic style.
Saturday Night Live Controversy and Departure
In September 2019, Gillis’s career reached a turning point when he was announced as a new cast member on the iconic sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live” (SNL). However, within hours of the announcement, clips from Gillis’s past podcast episodes resurfaced. These clips contained racial slurs and offensive language, leading to immediate backlash.
Gillis faced criticism for using derogatory terms, including a racial slur targeting Chinese people. He also made inappropriate remarks about comedians based on their race, gender, and sexual orientation. In response to the backlash, Gillis took to Twitter, acknowledging that he had made offensive jokes in the past and expressing regret for his actions.
Just days after the initial announcement, Lorne Michaels, the creator of SNL, made the decision to remove Gillis from the cast. The controversy surrounding his hiring and subsequent firing sparked a heated debate about the boundaries of comedy and the importance of accountability.
Continued Success in Stand-Up and Sketch Comedy
Despite the setback with SNL, Gillis persevered in his stand-up comedy career. In January 2020, he was named “2019’s Stand-Up Comedian of the Year” by Theinterrobang’s Sixth Annual Comedy Awards, solidifying his status as a talented comedian.
In December 2020, Gillis teamed up with comedian John McKeever to launch the web series “Gilly and Keeves.” The series featured comedic sketches, including memorable ones like “ISIS Toyota,” “Uncle Daycare,” and “Trump Speed Dating.” The collaboration allowed Gillis to showcase his versatility and creativity in sketch comedy.
On September 7, 2021, Gillis released his first live comedy special, “Shane Gillis: Live in Austin,” on YouTube. The special received positive reviews and was ranked second in The Laugh Button’s top 20 comedy specials of 2021. Gillis’s ability to connect with his audience through his humor and relatable anecdotes continued to shine through in this special.
Since 2021, Gillis, along with comedians Mark Normand and Ari Shaffir, has made regular appearances on “The Joe Rogan Experience.” Their episodes, known as the “Protect Our Parks” series, have further showcased Gillis’s comedic prowess and ability to engage in entertaining conversations.
Looking ahead, Gillis is set to release his second live comedy special, “Beautiful Dogs,” on September 5, 2023, on the popular streaming platform Netflix. This upcoming special is highly anticipated among his fans, and it presents another opportunity for him to demonstrate his comedic talent on a larger platform.
In Media and Personal Life
Gillis has made appearances on various comedy podcasts and talk shows, including The Bonfire with Big Jay Oakerson and Robert Kelly, The Doug Stanhope Podcast, Legion of Skanks, and The Real Ass Podcast. He has also been a guest on The Adam Friedland Show, showcasing his wit and humor in interviews.
Outside of comedy, Gillis has been profiled in The New Yorker, a testament to his growing influence and recognition within the industry. The article shed light on his journey, including the challenges he faced and the lessons he learned along the way.
Shane Gillis has had a dynamic career as an American comedian and actor. While he faced controversy during his time at SNL, he has managed to rebound and establish himself as a respected figure in the world of stand-up comedy. Gillis’s ability to connect with his audience through his unique brand of humor has solidified his place in the industry, and his continued success is a testament to his resilience and talent. As he moves forward, fans and critics alike eagerly await his future projects, eager to see what comedic brilliance he will bring to the stage and screen.