"Saturday Night Live" star Kenan Thompson is speaking out about the show's dismissal of controversial comic Shane Gillis days after that hiring was announced.
"Glad we cleared up all that nonsense before we got started, so it's all good," Thompson, 41, told the Washington, D.C., NBC station WRC at a media event Tuesday for the education-technology company EverFi. "I mean, not to call it nonsense, but it's drama," he continued, without mentioning Gillis by name. "But that's not my department as far as the hiring and firing goes. But you never want to start off on an uncomfortable note for anybody."
Thompson, the show's longest-running cast member, having joined in 2003, went on to say, "I've always been very easygoing so it's easy for me to be in a bad place and not necessarily complain about it, but [it's] not necessarily like that for everybody. And it's not advantageous for the show, either, because things fester and … boil to the top; at some point it could explode. So it's nice to try to catch it early and make everybody feel like we're all equals."
After "SNL" last week announced it had hired new cast members Gillis and Chloe Fineman, and had elevated Bowen Yang from staff writer to become the series' first Chinese-American cast member, video emerged of Gillis using racial and homophobic slurs in a podcast last year. On Monday, the show rescinded its invitation to Gillis, saying, "The language he used is offensive, hurtful and unacceptable. We are sorry that we did not see these clips earlier, and that our vetting process was not up to our standard."
Thompson at the same event told The Hollywood Reporter that “SNL" had "put their stamp on there — which everyone would have assumed about 'SNL' anyway — that we don't tolerate abuse or disrespect of anyone, racial or otherwise. It's just not conducive to a comedy show.”
Gillis has not responded on social media to Thompson's remarks.
The late-night sketch-comedy series' 45th season premieres Sept. 28.