Stand-up News
September 7, 2023


September 7, 2023

Mike Binder

Anyone who reads this blog, (or whatever this thing is) regularly, knows how special I think Shane Gillis is. He consistently makes me laugh out loud. My buddy, Dan Soder, summed it up best when we were discussing Shane; he referred to him as a ‘once-in-a-generation talent.’ That’s undeniably true, especially considering the competition in his generation. He’s working alongside an incredibly talented group of stand-ups, with Soder among them. The likes of Big Jay Oakerson, Andrew Schultz, Joe List, Tony Hinchcliffe, Jessica Kirson, Mark Normand, Luis J. Gomez, Theo Von, Annie Lederman, Andrew Santino, Yamaneika, Sam Morril, Will Noonan, Erica Rhodes, Dave Smith, and the list goes on and on. The fact that he’s risen to prominence so quickly and distinctly begs the question: why? What is it about this big guy in a loose-fitting T-shirt who’s perpetually beer-dizzy that makes him so extraordinary?

He’s not just funny; he possesses something invaluable for a comedian – an ability to court controversy and rile people up while being a pretty damn good guy.


Dave Chappelle said it best. ” Shane Gillis is so funny that he got cancelled at the beginning of his career.” That’s a fact. It’s what happened, and it’s a perfect story. One for us all to hold tight to, because getting fired by SNL was the best thing that ever happened to him, even though at the time, it seemed like he was done. Yes, he was radioactive for a beat, but he was a prodigious talent, at that there was no doubt. That’s why they hired him. That’s also what the next few years revealed as he went on to star in, write, and co- conceive the most original sketch show since In Living Color, maybe even The Groove Tube, with his partner John McKeever. The show on is ten times funnier, more clever, daring, and entertaining than anything SNL had done in years. Lorne Michaels let go of his best new player since the Sandman due to old podcast episodes with Matt McCusker where Shane used an Asian accent and made a few Asian jokes.


It was a public drubbing. No doubt. It had to hurt. To be the guy that famously got fired like that? In an era where cancellations were like beheadings in 18th century Britain, with the press being the town square.  Shane was marched up the steps without even a hood on, and his head rolled off of the scaffolding for the whole town to see. The good news is the stand ups around him, his old friends and the new ones he made, picked him up,  dusted the body off and somehow fastened the head back on. Joe Rogan, Bert Kreisher, and the Cavalry actually saved him. He had his own podcast of course, and his unique voice and stance, yet the acceptance by the stand up community is what made it all happen so quickly. He just seemed to perfectly fit in there with Joe Rogan, Ari Shaffir, Mark Normand, and Bert Kreisher in a jolly stoners pack of off the cuff comedy curling. Like a missing piece of a favorite bong pipe. Eventually the newly un-cancelled, Louis C.K, bellied up to the bar with him alongside of Dave Chappelle and the rest of the top dogs.  Shane became a made man, which made sense.


I had the privilege of performing before him at Cobb’s Comedy Club in San Francisco a couple of nights a year or so ago when I was just getting back into stand-up. Andrew Yang happened to be in the audience. Shane and Andrew had become friends during Shane’s SNL ordeal. Right as he was being figuratively led up the steps (to continue the metaphor), Andrew, who was running for President at the time (note: he didn’t win), penned a thoughtful New York Times opinion piece essentially saying, “Hey, I’m Asian, you shouldn’t fire him over these old jokes.” Unfortunately, Lorne fired him anyway, and Shane’s career suffered a temporary setback. However, he gained another good friend in the process, and the night I was at Cobb’s, Andrew introduced Shane and delivered some genuinely funny moments.


His first special, for those that don’t know, is a legendary off road You Tube special, ‘Live in Austin.’

This is arguably one of the best DIY YouTube specials of all time. Filmed at The Creek and the Cave in Austin, it features Shane alone on stage with perhaps three cameras and minimal production design. It has likely been viewed close to 25 million times across all platforms. ‘Shane Gillis Live in Austin’ did a remarkable job of dispelling the notion that his career had been permanently decapitated. Anyone who watched it understood that the blame lay squarely on Lorne Michaels. The man who was once considered the bravest in comedy had lost his nerve, his sense of what was real in comedy, what was bullshit, and most likely what was left of his testicles. Shane was the rightful heir to Sam Kinison and John Belushi, was about to capture the hearts, souls, and minds, of a whole generation of young men in a very similar way, and Lorne let him go because of a few ill-advised emails and write-ups he couldn’t weather.

However, what Shane truly desired was a Netflix special. Robbie Praw, the boss of Netflix’s stand-up division, admired him and likened him to Louis C.K. and Dave Chappelle. Yet Robbie initially hesitated to deal with the expected controversy both from outside and inside of his giant company. Nonetheless, he did eventually made the call, and extended the offer. This happened long before Joe Rogan, Bert Kreischer, and others elevated Shane to his current status, preceding a big New Yorker article and the waning influence of the MeToo movement. I will say it was an unequivocally bold move, the second one by Netflix that championed stand-up comedy by standing up to the cancel culture mob. The first was of course Ted Sarandos’s bold letter to his company of solid support for Dave Chappelle.

While I’ve been critical of Netflix for other reasons, they’ve consistently backed stand-up comedy and the right of comedians to express themselves freely. Praw’s giving Shane a special shortly after his SNL dismissal was significant and, as time has shown, astute.


His wish has finally come true – his Netflix special is here and has already hit the number one spot on Netflix’s shows during its opening weekend. I don’t recall any stand-up achieving this before, not even Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais, or Dave Chappelle, the triumvirate of Netflix stand-up royalty. It’s a well-deserved placement because the special is smart, funny, and daring. Shane wisely didn’t reinvent the wheel (I don’t believe he even changed his T-shirt). His style remains laid-back, giggly, naughty, clever, and audacious. It’s slightly better produced than ‘Live in Austin,’ with a solid direction by McKeever of Gilly and Keeves fame. Some might find the beginning a bit slow, but to me, it exudes confidence. Shane and John understand the wealth of great material he’s packed into the latter two-thirds, so they spend the first third letting the audience get to know Shane, including his controversial encounter with the entire continent of Australia.

If I haven’t hit it hard enough yet, I think a hell of a lot of this guy. He’s a good man. I’m a quite a bit older and I’ve been there, I worry about his drinking and shit, like I do about a lot of these guys who are partying so much. Anyone that knows me knows where that comes from, knows my past bullshit, but I think he’s got a good head on his shoulders. I am praying that these guys don’t blow it with drugs and alcohol like so many of my friends did when they got ahold of the brass ring. I wish them all only the best. They really are an incredible class.

Also, I do however happen to think Shane sometimes looks, and especially in the photo above, like he could play the Nazi guard in that stupid old joke about the guys grand-dad that died in the Holocaust. ‘Yeah, he was drunk and fell out of a guard tower.’


He’s not just a stellar stand-up; he exudes something so much more than that. He’s not mean, cranky, loud, or bitter about the world. He possesses a laid-back demeanor that’s delightful to share a laugh with. He’s like that neighbor you love to hang out with, even though you’d never leave him alone with your kids, your cars, your wife, or even your refrigerator. But for watching a game, a movie, smoking a cigar, or sharing a meal, he’d be your first choice. Personally, I think he’d make a fantastic comic film star, a blend of John Candy, Jack Black, and Sandler, with a dash of Albert Brooks.

Who knows what the future holds for him? If I were in his shoes, I’d consider making my own low-budget film maybe even releasing it on Gilly and Keeves TV. Sow new ground, much like Louis C.K. did in his prime.

If you haven’t seen Shane’s work yet, do yourself a favor and watch “Beautiful Dogs.” Then head over to and purchase a season or two. You won’t regret it. Besides, there’s a strike happening, so you don’t have a plethora of entertainment options right now.

Also, if you can still snag a ticket, catch him on tour. He’s truly the cream of the crop at the moment.