I’ve been telling you since Anthony Atamanuik first stepped onto the UCB stage to debate James Admonian as “Trump vs. Bernie” for the first time, that we were watching something special.
Sure, you can find plenty of other Trump impersonators, and plenty more since Trump became president. You may laugh at one or all of them.
But Atamanuik digs deeper than anyone else to reveal the man’s psyche, the one thing we’re all curious about and perhaps suspect, but never hear from the man himself. He also goes beyond any other Trump impersonator in improving upon the real-life satire. Going back to the Trump vs. Bernie debates at the UCB and then across America in 2016, continuing through the first two weekly episodes of The President Show on Comedy Central, Atamanuik knows just how to heighten the absurdity to a point that we would consider comedic incredulity, if not for the fact that Trump himself later goes on to parrot the comedian’s predictions.
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) May 4, 2017
It’s a testament not only to Atamanuik’s improvisational skills, but also to his acting skills for all the homework he puts into studying and then embodying the current president of the United States.
His vocalizations over the course of the first two episodes of The President Show on Comedy Central may not consistently hit perfect pitch. But the scripted segments are as tightly focused and on point as the best sketches from Inside Amy Schumer (for that, you can credit Christine Nangle, Schumer writer and current head writer of The President Show). Atamanuik told me last year on my podcast that even though he sounds like he’s riffing all of the time, he’s mostly sticking to a script.
That comes through in magical moments in each of his interview segments on The President Show, first with Keith Olbermann and then this week with Dan Savage. You can watch as he goes from ad-libbing dialogue with the guest to diving into a profound moment that catches his guest completely off-guard.
And then there are other moments, outside of the studio, where Atamanuik’s Trump interacts with unaware pedestrians or protesters, and shows us the true imbecile that we’ve somehow left in charge of our country.
“The President’s Tour” of NYC starts out amusingly enough with Atamanuik infiltrating Trump Tower, and then heading into Times Square, where employees and tourists alike have no idea what to make of him. When he takes a break for a meal, though, everything ramps up comedically. Makes me laugh out loud even on repeat viewings. When you see Trump react to a passing truck, you don’t have to leap logically from the actual president’s recent press conference performance with truckers to know this might be how he’d behave under the radar. And then when Atamanuik’s Trump catches himself in the moment, it reveals something even deeper and darker.
Lots of people are talking about this sketch in particular. To wit, Vulture. Or this:
Further viewing and reviewing here: