Merely moments into his inaugural Saturday Night Live opening monologue nearly half a decade subsequent to his dismissal from the show due to racist and homophobic remarks on his podcast, stand-up comic Shane Gillis revisited prior missteps. “I was essentially – let go from this program some time ago. However, please refrain from researching that. If you are unfamiliar with me, kindly refrain from conducting a search,” the comedian initiated.

After facing backlash for using racist and homophobic language, Shane Gillis returns to Saturday Night Live almost five years post eviction from the show.(YouTube / SNL)

In a playful nod to the controversy, he quipped about how apt it would have been for him to serve as a high school football coach, aligning with the enduringly vocal violent cliché associated with the role. “Believed that one would receive plenty of laughs here”, Gillis remarked following an opening jest. Ironically, this laid the groundwork for Shane Gillis’ SNL resurgence.

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Swiftly diverting from the contentious issues that led to his departure from the show, he swiftly transitioned to establish a comedic atmosphere. At times, you could observe him hesitating, almost anticipating another interruption, and then proceeding in his self-aware, self-deprecating manner: “Listen, I do not possess any content that is suitable for television, alright?”

He touched upon familiar themes, highlighting that individuals with Down Syndrome are among the happiest he knows (some being his relatives), reminiscent of his previous mention on the topic in his 2023 Netflix special, Beautiful Dogs.

Further reading: Donald Trump likened to Dark Knight Rises supervillain Bane on SNL

Public react to Shane Gillis’ Return to SNL after 5 years

The material presented is notably toned down compared to what his followers may be accustomed to. Conversely, those unfamiliar, who are encountering him for the first time, may question why his name dominated SNL headlines in recent weeks prior to his eventual re-emergence on the show. The internet’s assessments of Shane Gillis’ SNL performance evidently reflect a mixture of perplexity.

While his enthusiasts celebrate his long-awaited return and proclaim that he has presumably ‘made America great again,’ others are still perplexed by the commotion.

Favorable appraisals:

Several online users acknowledged the subdued nature of his comedic material. However, others simply enjoyed his stage presence.

“That was the most outstanding monologue on SNL in over 20 years. There is no room for debate,” articulated one individual in response to the SNL tweet.

One user on Twitter remarked: “Solid even though it was noticeably dialed down.” Another individual, noting his nervous disposition, commented, “Awkwardly humorous but humorous.”

Additional praise poured in with comments such as: “He did not hold back on his material at all. Credit to him for not shying away and delivering it with gusto. I cannot recall the last time I tuned in to SNL until last night.” and “It was about time that man rightfully claimed his position at the top.”

Unfavorable appraisals:

A commenter recalled prior events and wrote: “This individual is reprehensible! They could have found an alternative. There exists a strong rationale behind his dismissal. He is dreadful!”

Another individual in the comments agreed: “This was tremendously lacking.”

Additional users chimed in, stating, “Shame on SNL for featuring such an unfunny and frankly distressing individual. We are in the year 2024. Strive for better @SNL.” and “Now it all makes sense why he was ousted from the show”. While another recollected vaguely: “Isn’t that the individual with racist tendencies?” and others pointed out his usage of terms such as “mentally disabled” and “cracker”.

In conjunction with commencing the program, he participated in various SNL skits of the evening, including a parody fusion of the film White Men Can’t Jump featuring Trump’s ‘mystical’ golden sneakers among others.