Master Trump Impersonator James Austin Johnson Joins 'SNL'

Saturday Night Live will welcome three new featured players to its cast this season, including James Austin Johnson, who went viral for his front-facing camera impressions of Donald Trump. 

Johnson has been a regular in the Los Angeles comedy scene and appeared in shows like Tuca and Bertie and the Coen Brothers movie, Hail Caesar. But during the 2020 election, he regularly went viral with videos where he’d bust out a pitch-perfect Trump voice and go on rambling tangents about everything from Scooby-Doo, to Weird Al Yankovic’s feud with Coolio, to hyper-pop duo 100 Gecs. 

Joining Johnson as featured players this year will be Aristotle Athari and Sarah Sherman. Athari got his start in the sketch comedy group Goatface, which released a Comedy Central special in 2018, while he’s also appeared in shows like Silicon Valley. And Sherman — who sometimes goes by the stage name Sarah Squirm — created the traveling comedy show “Helltrap Nightmare” and worked on The Eric Andre Show.

Along with announcing the new cast arrivals, it was revealed that Beck Bennett and Lauren Holt would be departing SNL. Bennett has been on SNL for eight seasons, joining in 2013 as a featured player before being promoted to a full cast member in 2015. On Instagram, Bennett wrote “Love you, SNL. Gonna miss you so much. Thank you for eight years of remarkable people and incredible experiences that completely changed my life I had so much fun.”

Holt, meanwhile, is departing after just one season on SNL. She joined as a featured player last year.

SNL also announced that it was promoting two featured players to the main cast: Bowen Yang (who became the first featured player in the show’s history to earn an Emmy nomination) and Chloe Fineman.

The 47th season of Saturday Night Live will premiere on October 2nd with host Owen Wilson and musical guest Kacey Musgraves. Additional opening episodes include Kim Kardashian West and Halsey (October 9th), Rami Malek and Young Thug (October 16th), and Jason Sudeikis and Brandi Carlile (October 23rd).

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