‘SNL’ should’ve fired Shane Gillis a second time

‘I probably shouldn’t be up here,’ the host admitted as he bombed his monologue, kicking off a train wreck of an episode.

‘SNL’ should’ve fired Shane Gillis a second time
Heidi Garner, Mikey Day and Shane Gillis during Saturday Night Live. / SNL

“When is a gift not a gift?”

That’s the riddle Baron Harkonnen asks in Dune when questioned why his family has seemingly been betrayed by their Emperor. A gift isn’t a gift when it’s a trap, he hints.

After weeks of Shane Gillis’ fans rabidly predicting that his Saturday Night Live hosting gig would be the second coming of Norm Macdonald when he returned to host after being fired, Gillis found himself in a trap, revealing to the world in no uncertain terms that not only should Gillis not be hosting SNL, he never belonged on the show in the first place.

I’ve watched a lot of SNL. I’ve written a lot about SNL. This is one of the worst episodes I can remember.

It’s one thing to watch a famous person bungle their way through hosting SNL. That’s sometimes part of the allure of the show. That doesn’t work when the person doing the bungling is, as Vulture’s Jen Chaney put it, “the least memorable person from your middle school.” At several times this episode, Gillis looked like a person who had stumbled into Studio 8H and had somehow found himself on the stage.

Great writing can rescue a mediocre SNL host. The show’s writers clearly weren’t burning their top-tier work on Gillis. Why send amazing sketch ideas into the flames of this trainwreck when real stars like Sydney Sweeney and Josh Brolin are on deck?

What happened here? Did Lorne Michaels schedule a show on the same night as the SAG Awards and realize too late that no one was available to host? If Gillis wasn’t the right fit for SNL a few years ago, why was he suddenly the right fit to host? (As I’ve said before, it turns out when you’re famous, Michaels lets you host.)

“I probably shouldn’t be up here,” Gillis said during his monologue.

Yeah, and now everyone who watched knows that too.

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Trump Victory Party

With Gillis as the ticking time bomb, SNL led off with a political sketch for its cold open. Devon Walker’s take on Tim Scott has become the gift that keeps on giving for the show, a successful and repeatable character that has allowed the sophomore cast member to enjoy a greater role during Season 49.

  • They pooped where? I didn’t catch who Mikey Day was playing at first, but it turns out he was portraying Jim Risch, a senator whose office was trashed during the Jan. 6 insurrection. Feels like Risch was picked just to make this specific joke.
  • “Hey, Tim, whatever he did to you, it’s not your fault”: I forgot that James Austin Johnson had previously portrayed Lindsey Graham, taking over the role after Kate McKinnon left SNL.


I don’t think I’ve ever seen a comedian try so hard but fail so spectacularly to be funny during an SNL monologue. The show has long been hosted by comedians. Nate Bargatze delivered the best episode of the season so far. This should be easy. Here’s a mic, give us seven minutes of your routine.