Comedian Punkie Johnson on making ‘Saturday Night Live’ history


[June is Pride Month, and this year we’re celebrating by honoring 30 LGBTQ firsts. To see the full list, visit nbcnews.com/pride30.]

It’s been a week since Punkie Johnson wrapped her first season on “Saturday Night Live,” and she still can’t believe it happened. She can’t believe she was cast, or that her mom got to say, “It’s Saturday night!” for the show’s cold open, or that she has the number of the show’s famous creator, Lorne Michaels, in her phone.

“It wasn’t even a dream, because I never thought that I would get there,” she said. “That’s how surprised I was.”

Punkie Johnson, 36, made history as the first Black queer woman cast on the show. A longtime comedian and performer, Johnson got her start waitressing at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles. Even to be a server there was competitive, and when she came for her interview, there were at least 70 people vying for the job.

“And that was when I made a deal with God and the universe,” she said. “I was like, ‘If I get this job, that means that I’m supposed to do comedy.’”

Check back later this week for our full profile of Punkie Johnson.

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