NEW YORK (AP) — In James Austin Johnson, “Saturday Night Live” has a new master impressionist on board, whose take on Donald Trump over the weekend was a breakout performance for rookie.
Johnson caught a stream-of-consciousness Trump during an opening segment on Saturday discussing Republican Glenn Youngkin’s election as Virginia’s governor. Critics of Vulture and TheWrap said Johnson “stole the show,” or at least the cold open.
Dan Spinelli of Mother Jones wrote, “‘Saturday Night Live’ has a really great Trump impersonator.” “Close your eyes and you’ll think new cast member James Austin Johnson is the real thing.”
With Youngkin, portrayed by artist Alex Moffat, looking uncomfortable on a split screen next to him, Johnson echoes ESPN’s “Pardon the” through themes such as “Dune,” “Star Wars,” Chris Pratt and Santa Claus. The subjects to do revolved around as a “countdown”. Interruption” appeared onscreen.
“Most people don’t like him but he’s an amazing guy, right? Tall, rich, like my sons. Glenn, you’re like my son,” Johnson’s “Trump” said.
“Please don’t say that,” replied Moffat.
Johnson, a 32-year-old stand-up comic from Nashville, Tennessee, has already impersonated President Joe Biden twice in season five episodes, along with Adam Driver, Joe Buck, John Gruden, Lindsey Graham, and Louis CK, this one. It’s unusually fast to start for a new “SNL” player, especially now that the on-air cast has grown to 21 people.
The show did not make Johnson available for an interview on Monday. Even before appearing on “Saturday Night Live”, he had attracted attention for his mimicry, especially of Trump. A video of Johnson, as Trump discusses Scooby Doo, has been viewed more than 2.4 million times on Twitter since it was posted a year ago.
About that performance, Vice’s Josh Terry wrote last year that “there’s something shocking about how accurately Johnson is able to transmit the president’s cadence, speech patterns, and eccentricities.”
While it’s unclear how much the news will direct Johnson to appear as Trump on “Saturday Night Live,” he is clearly the successor to Alec Baldwin, who made his final appearance as Trump shortly after the 2020 election. recorded attendance.
In an interview with Vice last year, Johnson said Baldwin brought “pure evil” to Trump’s impersonation.
“A lot of mainstream shows miss how much love there is for Trump,” he told Vice. “In wanting to portray him as the monster, of course, I believe he is, they are alienating some of the people who would otherwise laugh at his jokes. Laughing at a lot of depictions of Trump It’s really difficult. It doesn’t make you feel good. All I really want is my comedy to be really silly.”
Yet not everyone was happy that Trump “appears again” on a comedy show this past weekend.
The Atlantic’s Molly Garber wrote that Johnson’s impersonation is “deeply skilled”, pokes fun at Trump’s tendency to make himself indispensable. Yet giving Johnson the platform allowed Trump to turn his attention.
“SNL, for too long, was so interested in Trump as a joke that it ignored him as a threat,” Gerber wrote. The most recent episode “reveals that the show has looked back over the years—and learned nothing.”