Donald Trump’s 60 Minutes interview drummed up major buzz last week when the president walked out of the interview early. Despite Trump subsequently posting “leaked” footage on his Facebook page, CBS wasn’t deterred from airing the combative conversation between Trump and journalist Lesley Stahl.
Comedian James Austin Johnson lampooned the footage, spending three minutes comparing characters on Sex in the City to those on Gilmore Girls, all while doing a damn good Trump impression.
This is far from Johnson’s first time imitating the president. His IGTV is full of clips where Johnson-as-Trump comments on pop culture happenings like 100 Gecs and Weird Al. Johnson told Mashable over email that he’s impersonated Trump on stage and on Instagram since 2015, so he’s had time to fully develop his take.
“It’s really fun when you’re complaining about pop-culture stuff, really meaningless stuff that has almost no bearing on reality — when people tell me it’s uncanny, I think that’s what they’re hearing, the unrehearsed speech pattern,” said Johnson. He doesn’t use a script when imitating Trump, instead opting to pick a meaningless pop culture attitude he holds in real life and relaying it on camera in Trump’s voice.
“Even though I’m a comedian that does voices in his act all the time, I think that the rambling, frustrated complaining is as much a way to sound like the president as physically distorting my voice to sound like him,” Johnson said.
He was inspired to film this video after watching a 60 Minutes clip on his phone while Gilmore Girls was playing in the background; the show is one that he and his wife have watched many times and sometimes put it on to fall asleep. Johnson noticed that Trump was filmed in a dark room with a harsh light highlighting his fake fan, and knew he could imitate it.
“It was at night with this hard light on my face and it just felt enough like the 60 Minutes interview that I just had to do it,” he said. “It’s fun to make those stupid videos. It gets me through this terrible time.”
The video’s subject matter came together after Johnson and his wife watched the clip and returned to Gilmore Girls. “My wife and I start talking about Lorelei’s boyfriends on Gilmore Girls [and] it all just comes together,” he recalled. “The Sex and the City comparisons are just another pop-culture element to help with the Trumpian word salad.”
“The Sex and the City comparisons are just another pop-culture element to help with the Trumpian word salad.”
In the video, Johnson’s Trump goes through explaining the four SATC lead’s roles in the show and then in true Trump fashion, changes the subject and pontificates about something else. Unlike Trump, however, Johnson’s ramblings are funny: He transitions into talking about Luke, a character on Gilmore Girls, and his dating history.
A woman off-screen, a stand-in for Stahl, interrupts Johnson as he’s going on about how Luke loves to date “Carries,” to get to the real question: He says he’s Team Logan (one of Rory’s major boyfriends in the show — if you haven’t watched Gilmore Girls, Logan is a hoity-toity rich boy she meets when she goes to Yale), but he cuts in to say he’s actually Team Jess, another one of Rory’s boyfriends who was the “sensitive bad boy” type and working class, unlike Logan.
The jumping around from topic to topic was purposeful on Johnson’s part. He said he’s watched videos of his rallies where he mixes two or three stories together in what Johnson called an “unhinged ramble.”
“It seemed totally fitting to grab multiple different TV shows made for the same demographics and chop them all up into the word salad,” he said.
Johnson’s Trump asserts that he’s never been Team Logan and always Team Jess because Jess is a “pre-Luke.” Then he launches into a diatribe about how Logan is a “pre-Chris” and therefore not good for Rory. Now, if you’ve never seen the show you’d be completely lost, so I’ll catch you up: Chris is Rory’s biological father, while Luke had been a consistent father figure throughout her life (and Luke eventually ends up with Rory’s mother, Lorelai — which I’d say is a spoiler but the show ended over a decade ago, so don’t come crying in my DMs).
Then, similarly to how it played out in real life, Johnson’s interview goes off the rails when he insists that Jess is a Carrie and that Rory is a Charlotte, two comparisons that make an ounce of sense but are non-sequesters from the rest of the interview.
He then halts the interview like Trump did with Stahl. “You’ve got enough interview,” Johnson said, “I think we’re done.”
Johnson said he’ll be making Trump videos as long as people get a kick out of them. He compared Trump to Sonny in Adam Sandler’s Big Daddy, saying he’ll always be a fixture in our lives. “Even if he loses, which it seems is what he wants to happen,” Johnson mused, “we will never forget him will we?”