Aristotle Athari, Sara Sherman and James Austin Johnson might not be amongst that calibre of names just yet but they have officially joined the SNL cast for its new season, which starts on October 2, with Owen Wilson hosting.
Of those three new names, Johnson is arguably already the most well-known, thanks largely for his impressions of Donald Trump, many of which went viral during the 2020 election.
We’ve all seen numerous comedians and actors attempt their own impressions of the notorious former president, with Alec Baldwin being the most notable to date, but let us tell you, Johnson blows Baldwin’s Trump out of the water.
Whereas Baldwin managed to perfect the mannerisms of Trump, you could say that the voice and speaking weren’t always on point. This isn’t the case with Johnson, who has got Trump’s raspy New Yorker scowl and breathing down to a tee as well as the controversial MAGA-leader’s habit of repeating himself during sentences.
However, possibly the best part of Johnson’s take on Trump is that he barely talks about politics at all thus avoiding promoting Trump’s toxic rhetoric.
What Johnson does with Trump is turn the former president into more of a caricature than ever before by having him go on seemingly endless rants about pop culture. Scroll through Johnson’s Instagram page and you’ll see ‘Trump’ talking about Weird Al Yankovic, hyperpop group 100 Gecs, Scooby-Doo and Pokemon to name but a few.
Speaking to Vanity Fair in November, Johnson, who began his stand-up career in Nashville, Tennessee as a teenager, admitted that he got better responses from audiences when he wasn’t “openly racist and homophobic as Trump” or “repeating what Trump said or heightening it .”
In the same interview, Johnson observed that, during rally mode, Trump was “not written out, and he’s not rehearsed” adding: “I tend to hover around Rally Trump, and there’s absolutely no rehearsal there. I pick a pop-culture topic, usually something that is an actual opinion I actually hold.”
This actually serves as a better form of ridicule of Trump, as we can laugh at how ridiculous his speech patterns are and at the thought that a former president would hold such passionate opinions on Super Mario.
SNL won’t be Johnson’s first time on television. In March he appeared as a fully-fledged Trump which was quite disconcerting to behold.
In an interview with YouTube music critic, Anthony Fantano, Johnson revealed that doing the Trump voice has taken a toll on his own vocal cords so let’s hope he can mix things up in his new gig on SNL. Johnson’s other voices include Joe Biden, so he won’t be short of material.
Johnson’s recruitment to the SNL cast might have come 12 months too late for him as, by now, he’d possibly already be a huge star thanks to his impersonation. However, should Trump announce that he is again running in 2024, SNL will have a massive Trump card up their sleeve (no pun intended).