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‘Saturday Night Live’ star James Austin Johnson breaks down his spot-on Trump impression

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NBC/Will Heath

Over the weekend, Saturday Night Live opened with a sketch about a purported Fox News Channel telethon in which its anchors raised money for the “real victims” of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian oligarchs. 

The sketch featured cast member James Austin Johnson‘s spot-on impression of former President Trump, who at one point sings “My Funny Valentine” to Vladimir Putin

Speaking recently with ABC Audio, Johnson broke down the impression, which — unlike others who’ve aped the former reality show star-turned Commander in Chief — manages to capture the many nuances in Trump’s voice. 

“The speech pattern is one of the most unpredictable speech patterns of all time,” the actor and stand-up admits. By 2018 or 19, I really started to figure out, you know, how do you know, ‘Hillary,'” Johnson says, lapsing into the impression.

“The gurgle in the back of his throat and mixing that in with the smoothness of, you know, when he’s kind of fun and flirty,” he says of one of the impression’s keys, before adding, again as the former POTUS, ‘They don’t want to talk about it, but we have to talk about it.'”

Johnson continues, “You know, it took a while, but he loves — he’s gossipy and he wants to talk about, you know, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. You know, he had weeks of tweets about their relationship. So I kind of channel that Trump.” 

To that point, Johnson’s Trump was also shown in the cold open working the phones, gossiping about how good Rihanna looked now that she’s pregnant, and comparing the current president to the meat substitute, Beyond Burger.

“I wanna stay at ‘Burger,'” Johnson riffs as Trump. “Joe Biden has gone Beyond Burger.”

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