All Hail! Commander-In-Comedy Bob DiBuono at the Jacksonville Comedy Club

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Love him or hate him, Donald Trump has always been a character. His speech patterns, mannerisms and unnatural pigment bordered on the ridiculous, even before he finagled his way into the Oval Office. Comedian Bob DiBuono has always been drawn to characters and has made a career out of doing spot-on impressions of some of Hollywood’s most recognizable voices. He also stars as the resident Trump impersonator on Comedy Central’s Nightly Show. DiBuono brings his act to the Jacksonville Comedy Club May 25-27 (https://www.jacksonvillecomedy.com).

DiBuono does a legit impression of Trump, but he does more than just mimic the myriad absurdities by injecting humor into a routine that he insists is appreciated by all political party affiliates. “Part of doing impressions is having good material behind it,” he says. “If you just do the voice, that’s it. After 30 seconds of doing the voice, that’s it. It doesn’t go anywhere. I wanted to have material for Trump, so there are jokes in the there. I’m a stand-up comic, so when I do a character, I want jokes behind it, and that’s what makes that character stronger. You can hear someone do a great impression that’s very accurate, but it’s not that funny. I want to make the characters funny, too, because it makes it that much fuller on stage.”

DiBuono was developing the concept for an audition reel to send to Saturday Night Live when he decided to tackle Trump. He’s got the cadence of celebrities like Dr. Phil, Al Pacino, Matt Dillon, Tony Danza, and Norm MacDonald down to a science. For SNL, he knew he had to come up with something more contemporary. “This was right when he started to run, and I thought that he is such a big character, I thought I could get it down,” he says. “I never got into political comedy, and I still don’t. I like doing characters that have a lot of meat on the bone and he’s got a lot of layers. Not just because his status as a billionaire, but if he wasn’t a president, I would be doing him. He’s a hilarious character to do. A lot of characters don’t have a lot of personality. They are kind of flat. But there is so much you can do with someone like him.”

582e044a27703It was a four-month process for DiBuono to nail down the Trumpster’s idiosyncracies, starting first with his voice and a handful of key words that would become part of his go-to catch phrases. For DiBuono, he zeroed in on the words “jobs”, “country”, and—scarily enough—“China.”

“Some of his words are just very funny, and he says these words all the time,” he says. “Once I got it down, I actually pitched the character to Comedy Central to the Nightly Show and the producer loved it, and Larry Wilmore loved it, and the next thing I know, I was signed to an exclusivity deal with the Nightly Show to be their Donald Trump, and that’s what kick started everything for me.”

Playing Trump has earned DiBuono a spot on The View for a special President’s Day contest at an LA comedy club. Three comedians, including DiBuono, were invited to the show to do Trump impressions. The hosts were gracious and the audience was receptive, even those who support Trump.

“He is definitely the most polarizing character I think I have ever seen. There aren’t too many people that you can do on stage and literally divide an audience, unless you did an impression of Jesus Christ. That might garner the same sort of response. The fact that this guy is either loved or hated is really of no interest to me, so when I mimic him, I have no political agenda behind the impressions that I do,” he says. “I’m not a political comedian, so I think audiences that are pro-Trump, they love the impression when I do it live. And if they are anti-Trump, they love it because I am mimicking him and it’s funny. They get the stupidity of the things that I am saying because they are things that Trump would probably say. But at the same time, they appreciate that it’s a very good impression.”

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“I’ve had people get angry and walk out. They are yelling at me as if I’m Trump, and I think that is hilarious. That means that I’m doing it so accurately that I’m stirring up their emotions.”

For DiBuono, his act is directly reflective of the character he portrays. If he’s not pissing people off, he’s not doing it right. “I’ve had people get angry and walk out. They are yelling at me as if I’m Trump, and I think that is hilarious. That means that I’m doing it so accurately that I’m stirring up their emotions. It’s no different than when you’re watching a really good actor play a villain in a movie. You hate that character and while you’re watching that movie, you hate that actor,” he says.

“It’s very emotional because some people hate him so much, and I do such an accurate impression of him that it actually triggers them. It’s like being at the dinner table and someone starts talking about religion, before you know it, there’s an argument. If you put a Jew, a Protestant, and a Catholic at the table together, it’s going to get heated.”

But he’s still waiting for the ultimate sign: a tweet from Trump. “He has not Tweeted me yet but I’m sure he knows I exist. It would be great if Alec Baldwin would leave and SNL would bring me on doing this character. I would love that. But I’m sure he’s very aware of the people out there who mimic him.”

For more information, check out eujax.com.

About Liza Mitchell

april, 2022

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