When Urooj Ashfaq joined Daniel Sloss and Kai Humphries on a recent episode of their podcast Sloss and Humphries on The Road, Sloss described cancel culture as “free publicity”. New York comedian Shane Gillis probably agrees. In 2019, the comedian was hired and fired from Saturday Night Live in a matter of days, thanks to some podcast clips of him using racial slurs that inevitably resurfaced on social media. But that didn’t stop him from hitting the standup stage. After putting out a half-hearted apology on Twitter and accepting the criticism that came his way, Gillis went on to sell out venues and dropped his incredibly successful debut standup special Shane Gillis Live In Austin on YouTube in 2021. He has kept the ball rolling this year, landing himself his first Netflix special Beautiful Dogs which was released on 5 September and is already being featured on the platform’s Top 10 Shows.
Throughout the hour, Gillis touches upon a number of topics, ranging from gun control, his girlfriend’s Navy SEAL ex-boyfriend and Trump’s wacky speeches. The comedian masterfully plays to and mocks the conservative audience he’s performing for, reeling them in with soft liberal bashing and quickly subverting the perspective to dish out a punchline at the expense of his crowd. However, he’s pandering to them too, casually dropping the R-word or describing guys who don’t like guns as “gay”. Sure, it’s problematic, it’s homophobic, but he somewhat redeems himself when he uses that setup to make a larger point about mass shootings in the United States. There’s no malice involved, he’s just trying to egg people on. You can peg him as a right-winger, but unlike other comedians who reach for jokes about the LGBTQ+ community or Joe Biden, Gillis mostly sets his sights on American conservatism, mocking the modern Republican’s choice of Presidents and policies.
There’s no doubt that Gillis is an intelligent comedian. He’s self-aware enough to play both sides of the aisle. Clearly, he believes anything can be funny and nothing is off limits and he’s got the chops to drive that point home. Beautiful Dogs may not work for everyone, but if you’re willing to give Gillis a little bit of rope and the benefit of the doubt, it’s a great watch that explores the great American ideological divide.
Feature Image Courtesy: @thehomelesspimp