"Man, Beck Bennett leaving SNL is legit the most surprising cast exit I could imagine this year," says TV critic Liz Shannon Miller. "(Admittedly this is because I never even considered the possibility.) He's such a solid utility player, it's actually a real shame." NBC News correspondent Morgan Chesky tweeted: "Beck Bennett became a force on @nbcsnl. Versatile, solid straight man, who always brought the laughs. Gonna miss him, but excited to see the new cast." College football reporter Chris Vannini added: "Beck Bennett was the most underrated SNL cast member in years. He never had a bad skit and made every performance better. Always reliable and funny. That’s a big loss."
How new SNL cast member James Austin Johnson developed his sharp, funny, dead-on Trump impression: "I probably started working on it in 2015," he told Discourse Blog just before last year's presidential election. "I’ve always been a voices guy. I sort of specialize in disgusting or old or creepy old men typically and especially, uh, monsters and canceled people. My friends joke that as soon as I perfect an impression the guy gets canceled. I come from a super conservative Christian background and up until pretty recently was still involved with that world, and now I’m not. I cover a lot of those kinds of subjects in my standup. Definitely coming from that background, with all my family and half of my friends coming from that perspective, (it) definitely felt kind of like, oh sh*t: my world is being taken over by a f*cking monster, like a guy who doesn’t represent a single one of our values. And I just couldn’t escape the guy. Since he came down the staircase at Trump Tower, he’s just dominated every minute of every day."