From Trevor Noah to Jimmy Fallon, nearly everybody in late-night comedy seems to have an impression of Donald Trump’s idiosyncrasies, but two actors have made the art of the impersonation transcendent.
Since before the election, Alec Baldwin has been garnering big laughs (and “bigly” ratings) for his appearances on “Saturday Night Live.”
Meanwhile, Anthony Atamanuik, a New York City improviser best known locally for his work at the UCB (Death by Roo Roo, “Asscat 3000”), got his big television break with his version of the leader, starring on Comedy Central’s “The President Show.”
So, which actor does it best?
That depends on which version of the commander-in-chief you find more comedically compelling. Scroll down to see how the impressions break down in three major categories.
Atamanuik: Atamanuik takes particular glee in channeling his manic energy into multisyllabic words like “tremendous” and absolutely,” but he shines when he uses his nastiest Trump voice to say, “Nice.”
Baldwin: Though Baldwin’s impersonation is consistently dour — you won’t see a smile on this president’s face — he contrasts the cynical demeanor with positive words like “terrific,” “best,” “great” and his highest compliment is “I love _____.”
Atamanuik: He might have perfectly normal-sized hands, but his fingers are always pinching small, particularly to punctuate his speech with his thumb and index finger coming together as if to say, “It’s all OK, really!”
Baldwin: With rigid shoulders, Baldwin’s hands are constantly raising from his elbows, palms to the audience with fingers spreading as if he were a crossing guard stopping traffic.
Atamanuik: The actor told Stephen Colbert on “The Late Show” that to get into character, he brings his lips and body forward (“he has no center of gravity”), carries his arms in front and thinks of a small dog. “This is the key,” Atamanuik says. “He’s like a shih tzu. Trump is a shih tzu.”
Baldwin: Baldwin also revealed his impersonation secret to Colbert, but his technique is entirely different. His directions: “Left eyebrow up, right eyebrow down, shove your face like you’re trying to suck the chrome off the fender of a car.”
The real Trump is on the record as hating Baldwin’s impression, and while he hasn’t said anything about Atamanuik’s, he’s probably not much of a fan of that one either.
“The President Show” airs on Thursdays at 11:30 p.m. on Comedy Central. “Saturday Night Live” airs on Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. on NBC.