With every new Saturday Night Lives season season, there are usually comedians making their exits and entrances. Beck Bennett and Lauren Holt are the members not returning for the 47th go-round of the late-night behemoth. In their place, SNL has added three new cast members: Sarah Sherman, Aristotle Athari, and James Austin Johnson. Each of these three comedians brings serious firepower, and it’ll be interesting to see how they are utilized, starting with the Owen Wilson-hosted (insert overlong wow here) premiere featuring musical guest Kacey Musgraves. Until then, here’s a primer on why you should be excited about these additions, and what they stand to bring to the table.
Comedy fans may recognize Sherman by her stage name: Sarah Squirm. Sherman’s comedy is more in the vein of avant-garde fare like The Eric Andre Show and Tim and Eric. Her Adult Swim infomercial is emblematic of her comedy: completely bizarre, almost to the point of a nightmare with a barrage of over-the top visuals. Sarah has also appeared on Means TV with The Sarah Vaccine. Her addition is arguably the most exciting, as it may indicate the late-night show is ready to take some creative risks. (Hopefully it doesn’t mean that her humor is going to be sanded down to NBC-palatable levels.) Or at least make the show’s costume department sweat.
As a member of Hasan Minhaj’s sketch group Goatface, Athari is a seasoned performer with almost a decade of experience. Fans of HBO hit Silicon Valley may recognize him as the repugnant Gabe in the show’s final season. We can expect Athari to contribute clever, cutting sketches like Good Son, that take simple ideas and give them absurd, yet hilarious twists and turns.
James Austin Johnson
This hire may be a direct attack on Alec Baldwin, whose tired Trump impression dragged down many of the show’s political sketches. James is a master of impressions, and his Trump (which many believe to be the best) is eerily identical to the former commander-in-chief. He’s also a regular in the Los Angeles standup scene, and has lent his talents to Tuca and Bertie, Better Call Saul, Hail, Caesar!, amongst others. SNL is also a grand departure from the comic’s roots as a Christian comedian.