“SNL” Adds Another Queer Cast Member Ahead of New Season

Meet Punkie Johnson, the show's first out Black lesbian cast member.

The Saturday Night Live cohort has a very exciting new member (and no, we’re not talking about Jim Carrey, the show’s latest Joe Biden).

Out comedian and writer Punkie Johnson has been tapped as a regular for the iconic comedy show’s 46th season, NBC revealed this week. She’s the first out Black lesbian cast member in SNL’s decades-long history.

Johnson joins veteran lesbian comic Kate McKinnon (The Big Gay Sketch Show) and Season 45 “Sara Lee” legend Bowen Yang in stacking the gay deck even higher. She and McKinnon also represent a record-high two lesbian SNL cast members to appear in the same season.

The Louisiana-born comedian cut her teeth doing stand-up as a paid regular at the famed Comedy Store in Los Angeles. Since then, she’s appeared on shows like A Black Lady Sketch Show and Bill Burr Presents: The Ringers. She’s also been coupled up since 2002.

Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Comedy Central
Punkie Johnson and Jimmy Kimmel in 2019.

Johnson isn’t the first Black lesbian to grace the SNL stage, although she is the first out Black lesbian. As Autostraddle notes, late comedian Danitra Vance joined the show in 1985, although she wasn’t openly gay at the time. Vance left the show only a year later, citing frustrations of being type-cast in “stereotypical Black female roles.”

Unfortunately, things haven’t really improved since the ’80s. To date, just 22 of the 150-plus comedians cast on SNL since the show began have been Black.

Congrats to Johnson! Here’s hoping Season 46 delivers more queer-AF (and Black-AF) hits when it premieres on October 3.

Main image: The cast ofSNL Season 45.

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.