So then you got Prompter Trump, who is like a grandmother reading Goodnight Moon to somebody. Fortunately, I’ve been doing him for so long that’s not an issue. We’re taking this and expanding it to the idea that had been percolating before the election that Trump was planning on having a TV network, or some show that would be a Breitbart-y or Fox News-y type network where he would either host a show or be a part of a show. You’d think he’s been president for 17 years based on the way his voice sounds now. What I get to do is pick and choose. How has your impression of him changed over time? I think people don’t realize how similar the fear was. This is really learning on the job, because I first improvised him on August 24 of 2015. Then I started to learn him, and what I’ll say has changed is that for a long time there was Freeform Rally Trump, and Freeform Rally Trump mixed with Reality Show Apprentice Trump. So now he’s gone from this loud barking to very serious, “we need to do these things and we need to do them now.” It sounds very tired, like he’s already worn out. It’s inspired by the Fireside Chats. He says if FDR did it, then I can do it too. It’s human nature to both mock power and also speak truth to it. I studied it like an actor. It’s the combination of what I’m bringing to it and I’m just lucky. I like to modulate him. Although we like to paint him in two-dimensional terms, even though he has very little self-reflection, I think he has some. Even if it’s just this narcissistic desire to appear better to everybody, the hope is that we can shuttle him in that direction somehow. You’ve been impersonating Trump since the campaign. He has phrases, refrains, melodies – he’s actually very musical in the way he speaks. It’s even in Back to the Future, which summarized this idea that had happened for four years prior to his re-election: This B-movie actor, this Bedtime for Bonzo guy, is the president and he’s in charge of nukes?? A great advantage for me is I write my own material, and although I have an incredible group of writers now who work together with me and write for me and open it up to so much more, I have both improvised as him and written as him for over a year and a half. You can’t be worried about someone being mad about it. I want to give you the sense that he’s there, but my intelligence is behind that, so that you’re in fake hands. We thought, what if he still wanted to do a show in the Oval Office? There’s a long tradition of satirizing the president, all the way back to the formation of the union. If I could ask you to not be humble for a moment, why do you think your Trump impression is best? The idea was also inspired by, where’s Trump’s zeitgeist? Then he got elected, and now his press conferences are like a lower version of Rally Trump. In fact, Benjamin Franklin was the source of numerous satirical pieces that were disgusting about friends of his. This is not a new thing. I know that if someone mocks me, I might get bruised by it, but I might also in a private moment actually think about it. What if this is his one release during the week? ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Can you describe the format of the show? ANTHONY ATAMANUIK: The genesis of this was Trump vs. I do him well physically and his voice, but I also worked hard on emulating how he is and having the satirical bent behind that. I really wanted to know how to play him. The idea that this is a new thing, it’s actually as old as time. He couldn’t resist commenting. This notion of it being beyond satire is a very dangerous idea. Anyone who grew up in that era knew Reagan was a disingenuous old fool, and the idea now that he’s lionized as a great leader … I think he did transform into a leader with the help of Gorbachev, and you hope that with another ego like that with Trump, maybe a person who comes along could stroke him the correct way and something happens that would be mystifying to everybody. That’s one thing I can say that I know nobody else who does this can do. Will you be mixing these different versions of him on the show? He’ll probably go through other permutations. Check that out below, along with an exclusive promo clip in which Atamanuik’s Trump explains why he’s basically the new FDR. That’s sort of what he is. In his mind, it’s what he thinks is presidential. I think the difference in portraying him or doing him, I hope that if he got miffed by it or upset by it, which he probably would, you always hope that maybe it’s both angry but ashamed. When James and I got into it, I had to really do my research because now we were doing a tour and people are paying money to see it, this is no longer just a free show at UCB. Then when I started doing the weekly show, I started sketching him as I saw him. I’m a big fan of immersion – I like immersive video games, I like immersive theater like Sleep No More, I think things where you feel a part of it and in the world is so cool. There was so much Reagan stuff. President” and I walked out and did some ham-fisted Trump-y thing, probably informed by other people’s impressions. I’ve done this many times, where big reporters and people in DC or so on will have this moment where they say it feels like being in the room with him. Every tragic time in history, including of course Sean Spicer’s total misunderstanding of the Holocaust and what happened in Europe 75 years ago, humor is what got people through those camps to some degree. He gets intense and then reframes or gets serious. Bernie live show and even occasionally arguing with fellow presidential impersonator Alec Baldwin on Twitter. He certainly doesn’t want to do the president part. I always say he’s like C3PO and the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi. In a way, it’s the luxurious draft of what I originally started with, which was a press conference from the future where he won. That era of mocking Reagan, people don’t realize Not Necessarily The News on HBO and Spitting Image with the puppets was created out of that. The way we resolve that feeling is through analysis, news, information, but also through humor. I did my due diligence in studying him. For me, what I like to believe is that I’m trying to do an impression of the interior of who he is. Depending on the circumstance. It’s a mix of desperation for approval that is masked with this element of Frank Sinatra if his body had been thrown into a bog for three months. It’s done from the Oval Office and what we’re hopefully doing is upgrading everything, from the appearance of Trump to the location of Oval Office, and hopefully maintaining a combo of comedic activism, satire, and UCB comedy. There’s no one else, even at the upmost top tier, who is writing the material, performing it, and doing something with some complexity to it, and I own that space. In first-person interviews, he does a lot of clasped hands, leaning forward, lips pouted. This is not a retro show by any means, but if you’ve ever gone on YouTube and watched Burt Reynolds and Dom Deluise bits on Carson, there is some level of that play with Mike Pence as the sidekick. It was just on a lark, someone said “Mr. I’m very worried about where we are as a culture if what we do is cut the legs out of the one thing that usually takes humanity through its worst places, which is humor. In terms of the physicality, I really worked hard on how he stands, how he moves his body, where his center of gravity is, and I think that work paid off. He would always start with “there were 17” and he would tell the story of the primary. What is the key to really nailing a good Trump impression? But then at rallies, he was just sort of an open mic comic trying out new material. It’s sort of like playing Modern Warfare or something, you know you’re playing a first-person shooter but you know you’re not getting shot. Unfortunately, this is the response to the national psyche and the global psyche: This clownish, obviously vulnerable and uninformed figure is now the leader of the free world, so of course it’s the thing on everyone’s mind. The President Show premieres April 27 on Comedy Central. The rote answer is like a Shatner or Elvis or Woody Allen or any kind of impression that’s done a bunch, there are key physical components to doing it – how you hold your face, how you hold your body, how you do your voice. In an EW interview ahead of The President Show‘s premiere this week, Atamanuik explains his vision for the show and how he’s honed his Trump impression down to a science. This very grandmotherly voice, quiet, not into reading it, just getting through it and then commenting on it. Show Full Article I think when Reagan was elected there was also this incredulous feeling. I’m trying to take who I see him as, how I see his brain work, how I see his ego desperate for approval. I think underneath that is a very deep fear of what’s gonna happen. Back before the presidential election, when most political prognosticators thought Donald Trump was going to lose, there was speculation that Trump would segue the loss into his own Fox News-type TV show. But I would also say this is most akin to the Reagan era. How do you think of this new era and the role of satire in a world where the president might actually get mad about it? He is sort of like a poor man’s Sinatra, he’s a Rat Pack member that no one wanted around. So I’m very happy about that. Atamanuik has been honing his Trump impression since nearly the beginning of The Donald’s presidential campaign, touring the country alongside James Adomian for the Trump vs. He was a storyteller for such a long time, and then once he got the nomination and Kellyanne Conway and those folks came in, and the prompter speeches started happening, I remember being very bummed out, like where’s the crazy guy I was watching? That’s where I’m trying to approach him, that gives it a unique signature. Bernie, and this is almost coming home again. There’s basically Rally Trump, Prompter Trump, Quiet Grandma Trump, and then there are a couple variations of Dismissive Trump or Irritated Trump, but they don’t show up as much. I always say that doing him is like composing a song while you’re playing it. The new show will feature master Trump impersonator Anthony Atamanuik in the title role, with Peter Grosz paying Vice President Mike Pence as a goofy late-night sidekick. You can’t ever be afraid. Trump’s zeitgeist is probably Carson, The Dinosaur Show, Mike Douglas. That to me is the highest compliment. I’ve done a lot of hours as him and studied him. I want people to watch on TV and feel like here’s a well-produced, immersive show hosted by the president, but with the edge of being in New York and seeing a comedy show in a black box theater. I think the most fun is to modulate him and move from a very intense moment to a very low moment, which he does a lot. That’s not what happened, of course, but Comedy Central’s The President Show imagines what would have happened if Trump had gone through with that idea even after winning the White House. In that sense, I can communicate his mind and intent and think at his speed really effectively, which can be disturbing sometimes. Trump is everywhere now, and it feels like everyone and their uncle has an impression of him. I’m glad there isn’t a tape when I first improvised it because I’m sure it was terrible. Humor is what gets people through the Depression and different periods. I think it’s the same volume now.