Andrew Yang, 2020 Democratic primary candidate, expressed on Sunday the pain he felt after hearing a new Saturday Night Live comedian make jokes aimed at Asians, which were widely viewed as racist.
Shane Gillis didn’t give an explicit apology to the presidential candidate, but claimed sometimes his comedy was a ‘miss.’ Yang said he forgives Gillis.
‘I’ve experienced a lot of Anti-Asian racism throughout my upbringing. And it hurts. It is something that is very real,’ Yang told CNN Sunday. ‘And I do think Anti-Asian racial epithets are not taken as seriously as slurs against other groups.’
Yang suggested the country has become too sensitive to some of these comments and claims Gillis’ statements should be seen in a ‘different light’ because he is a comedian.
‘But at the same time, bigger picture, I believe that our country has become excessively punitive and vindictive about remarks that people find offensive or racist and that we need to try and move beyond that if we can,’ he continued. ‘Particularly in a case where the person is, in this case to me, like a comedian whose words should be taken in a slightly different light.’
Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang said he was ‘hurt’ by a year-old video that emerged of a new Saturday Night Live hire making Asian jokes, using an Asian slur and mocking an Asian accent
In the video, Shane Gillis says, ‘Let the f—ing ch–ks live there,’ when referring to Chinatown. He was accused of issuing a half-hearted non-apology when he claimed he’s a comedian who sometimes ‘misses’
Yang said he prefers thoughtful comedy instead of ‘cheap shots,’ but said in a Twitter thread he would be willing to sit down with Gillis
He also said he didn’t want to see Gillis fired over the old video
Gillis was unveiled as a new cast member for SNL on Thursday morning, alongside Chloe Fineman and Bowen Yang, the first full-time cast member of the sketch comedy series who is of East Asian descent.
Shortly after, a year-old video resurfaced this week when freelance reporter Seth Simons tweeted a two-minute video of Gillis’ podcast where the comedian says, ‘Let the f—ing ch–ks live there,’ when referring to Chinatown.
He also mocks a Chinese accent and the language barrier in the video and says, ‘Chinatown’s f—ing nuts.’
The podcast episode has since been deleted from YouTube, and Gillis posted what many claim was a half-hearted owning-up to the old video.
‘I’m a comedian who pushes boundaries. I sometimes miss,’ Gillis said in a statement posted to his Twitter. ‘If you got through my 10 years of comedy, most of it bad, you’re going to find a lot of 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,’ he concluded, never once apologizing to the Asian community or Yang.
Yang, in response to the statement, said he prefers thoughtful comedy over ‘cheap shots.’
‘Shane – I prefer comedy that makes people think and doesn’t take cheap shots. But I’m happy to sit down and talk with you if you’d like,’ he said, adding that he doesn’t want Gillis to be fired over the old video.
‘For the record, I do not think he should lose his job,’ he the tech entrepreneur tweeted in a lengthy thread. ‘We would benefit from being more forgiving rather than punitive. We are all human.’
‘I’ve been called ch–k and g–k any number of times in my life,’ he tweeted, spelling out the racial slurs in their entirety. ‘It can be extraordinarily hurtful to feel like you are somehow not part of the only country you have ever known. I have certainly felt that – the churning sense of alienation, anger and marginalization.’
SNL announced Thursday three new cast members, including Gillis(left), Chloe Fineman (right) and Bowen Yang (middle), the first full-time cast member of SNL who is of East Asian descent
Yang has faced his fair share of backlash for comment viewed as perpetuating Asian stereotypes, including talking about how he’s a ‘nerd’ and likes math and claiming he knows a lot of doctors because he’s Asian
He said, however, that if he was able to forgive Gillis, he hopes others will be able to as well.
Yang, a political outsider, is quite the jokester himself and has made some comments that people have called questionable and perpetuates stereotypes. ,
While discussing healthcare policy and healthcare professionals Thursday night on the Democratic primary debate stage in Houston, Texas, Yang said he knows a lot about the issue because he’s Asian and knows a lot of doctors.
‘I’m Asian, so I know a lot of doctors,’ Yang said.
He also sells hats on his campaign website that simply say, ‘Math,’ and on several occasions has said he’s the opposite of Donald Trump because he’s an Asian man who likes math while taking a hit at Trump’s intelligence and economic policies.
Yang called his campaign ‘the nerdiest presidential campaign in history’ during a campaign stop in Seattle, Washington.
Yang said his comments are just ‘poking fun’ at these stereotypes and bringing attention to them so Americans will reflect on them.
‘I would never claim that my individual experience would speak to the depth and breadth of our community,’ he told CNN Sunday. ‘At the same time, I think Americans are very smart. And that they can actually see right through that kind of myth and, if anything, by poking fun at it I’m making Americans reflect a little bit more on them.’
Yang also gets up to other antics to drum up media attention, especially as he falls within the second tier of candidates and sometimes flies under the radar of major media networks.
Following a speech at the Asian America and Pacific Islander Democratic Presidential Forum in Costa Mesa, California last weekend, Yang crowd surfed.
‘One of my goals for this campaign was to crowd surf. I think this may be the time,’ the 44-year-old tech entrepreneur said last Sunday before he jumped into the crowd.
He also posted video of him ‘warming up’ for the Democrat debates this week by shooting some hoops, and engaged in a Twitter back and forth with Senator Ted Cruz, accepting a challenge to play a 4-on-4 charity basketball game between them and their staff.