Andrew Yang
© REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang takes the stage for the start of the 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Houston, Texas, U.S., September 12, 2019.
Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang has said that Saturday Night Live's new hire Shane Gillis should not be sacked for making a tasteless joke after a clip of him mocking Chinatowns resurfaced, setting Twitter alight.

Yang, a son of immigrants from Taiwan, struck a distinctly different tone from most online warriors when he said he would be "happy to sit down and talk" with Gillis about the ill-fated clip that resurfaced on Friday. The video shows the comedian tearing into Chinatowns and their inhabitants.

"Damn, Chinatown is f**king nuts," Gillis says in the clip, referring to the ability of Chinese immigrants to build up their sprawling enclaves in the blink of an eye and without apparent opposition from the locals. "Let the f**king ch*nks live there."

The clip, originally a part of Gillis' and fellow comedian Matt McCusker's September 2018 podcast, began making waves on Friday, sending Twitter into an uproar, with many calling on NBC to fire Gillis, a day after he was hired along with the first Chinese-American SNL cast member.

Yang, on the other hand, called for tolerance at a moment when society is deeply divided across political and racial lines.

"I think we have, as a society, become excessively punitive and vindictive concerning people's statements and expressions we disagree with or find offensive. I don't think people should be losing jobs unless it's truly beyond the pale and egregious," Yang tweeted on Saturday.


The democratic presidential hopeful said that while he has endured racial abuse himself, including being called "ch*nk and g**k," the comedian does not strike him as being "malignant or evil."

"He strikes me as a still-forming comedian from central Pennsylvania who made some terrible and insensitive jokes and comments," Yang said, adding that he hopes Gillis learns from his mistake.

"I also hope Shane is open to learning. We are all human, we're all fallible."

Facing backlash over the clip, Gillis released a statement saying he "sometimes misses" when "pushing boundaries."

"If you go through my 10 years of comedy, most of it bad, you're going to find a lot of bad misses. I'm happy to apologize to anyone who's actually offended by anything I've said," he said. The apology failed to placate the political correctness warriors, who denounced it as half-hearted and urged the show to terminating his contract.


Yang said that while he prefers comedy "that makes people think and doesn't take cheap shots," he would be "happy" to talk the issue through with Gillis.

"For the record, I do not think he should lose his job. We would benefit from being more forgiving rather than punitive."

The post has since been liked over 21,000 times and provoked an avalanche of mixed reactions.

Many backed Yang, while others said despite his noble intentions, he is missing the point.