“Saturday Night Live,” the comedy sketch show that has defined pop culture since its inception in 1975, announced on Wednesday that it’s making some exciting changes for the new season. One such change is the addition of comedian Punkie Johnson, a Los Angeles-based Black lesbian woman who, among other things, often talks about the ridiculousness gender roles and her 18-year relationship with her wife.
With her addition to the cast, Johnson becomes only the second openly lesbian cast member on “SNL” — after queer heartthrob and certified celesbian Kate McKinnon. Technically, comedian Danitra Vance was the first lesbian (and first Black queer woman) to make it to cast member from 1985-1986, but she was not publicly out, and her sexual orientation wasn’t widely known until after her death.
Johnson’s primarily known for her credits on TV shows like “Adam Ruins Everything,” “Space Force,” “Corporate,” and “Bill Burr Presents: The Ringer” as well as her well-known stand-up, which she regularly performs at the Comedy Store in Hollywood. She also just appeared at the Just For Laughs Festival, a major comedy festival based in Montreal, in 2019. At that appearance, she joked about roleplaying with her wife — as a heterosexual couple — to spice things up.
“We like this game because it makes us feel like we’re a part of the real world,” Johnson jokes.
“Saturday Night Live” also made a few more changes for the upcoming season. Two other comedians, Lauren Holt and Andrew Dismukes, will be added as featured players. While Holt is new to the sketch show, Dismukes worked as a writer during season 43 in 2017. A former featured player, Ego Nwodim, has also been moved to main cast. Jim Carrey will also feature in the season, though not as an actual cast member; he’s signed on to play former Vice President Joe Biden in the shows leading up to the Presidential election.
“SNL” has been getting progressively more gay thanks to queer cast members like McKinnon and Bowen Yang, as well as out writers like Julio Torres. Here’s to hoping that the addition of Johnson just means even more queer comedy for seasons to come!