Shane Gillis' SNL Return: A Blend of Humor and Discomfort

Gillis' SNL stint sparks mixed reactions, showcases talent.

by Nouman Rasool
Shane Gillis' SNL Return: A Blend of Humor and Discomfort
© Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

In a highly anticipated episode, comedian and podcaster Shane Gillis made his return to the iconic "Saturday Night Live" stage this past weekend. However, the show presented a mix of comedic highs and lows, reflective of the inherent unpredictability of live television.

Gillis, known for his edgy and often controversial humor, seemed to have moderated his approach slightly for his SNL appearance. Despite this adjustment, his opening monologue exhibited signs of nervousness, particularly as he attempted to navigate through various comedic topics.

A personal joke about his father, a girls' basketball coach, fell notably flat with the audience. This shaky start followed a lukewarm cold open that poked fun at Donald Trump's recent victory in the South Carolina primary.

Episode's Comedic Highlights

Yet, the episode was not without its moments of brilliance. Gillis shined in a spoof advertisement for "Rock Bottom Kings," a betting platform allowing users to wager on the downward spirals of their friends' lives.

Another highlight was a mock movie trailer in which Gillis played Gordon Dwyer, a character who, instead of gaining basketball prowess, ends up with a Trump-esque hairstyle and a questionable relationship with the truth. In one memorable sketch, Gillis portrayed a game show contestant struggling to identify famous Black historical figures, showcasing his talent for cringe humor.

However, another sketch involving workplace dating and human resources overstayed its welcome, stretching a single joke too thin. "Saturday Night Live's" renowned "Weekend Update" segment also seemed to lack its usual spark.

The segment was brief, and co-anchor Colin Jost's attempt at edgy humor, particularly a joke about Black History Month, rivaled Gillis's in terms of discomfort. The musical guest for the night, British-American rapper 21 Savage, performed his single "redrum" under a dramatic blood-red light.

However, his performance didn't quite resonate with the studio audience as expected. Gillis's hosting gig comes five years after his controversial firing from the SNL cast in 2019, following the emergence of racist and homophobic comments he made on his podcast.

Despite this tumultuous history, his return marks a significant moment in his career and highlights the ever-evolving dynamics of comedy in popular culture. As "Saturday Night Live" continues to navigate the fine line between edgy humor and cultural sensitivity, episodes like this serve as a testament to the show's enduring relevance and its willingness to embrace diverse comedic voices.