On Thursday's The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, comedian Anthony Atamanuik talked about the unlikely origin of his new Comedy Central talk show, where he will play the host – President Donald Trump. The President Show will debut Thursday April 27th at 11:30 p.m. Eastern.
"I've been under Gristedes for 15 years like a troll, improvising," Atamanuik says, referencing the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. One night in August 2015, Atamanuik says, he decided to impersonate Trump on a whim. The character was in his head, he says, as it was only two months after "the escalator that rolled around the world." That night, the theater's creative director, Shannon O'Neill, encouraged him to write a show as Trump.
Over the election cycle, Atamanuik perfected his pout and hyper-gesticulating in a touring comedy show: a fictional press conference called The Trump Dump. He also released the live debate comedy album, Trump vs. Bernie, with fellow satirist James Adomian (as Sanders).
"Atamanuik's Trump imitation is not only perfect and riotously funny; it should be essential viewing for everyone in our country," director Judd Apatow told Rolling Stone last August. By Election Day, Atamanuik had appeared as the Commander-in-Chief on @midnight with Chris Hardwick, The Howard Stern Show, The View and CNN Newsroom.
"A Trump is an Elvis ... a William Shatner, it's a Woody Allen, it's a standard impression ... He's like a shih tzuh," Atamanuik says. "Trump is a shih tzu."
Colbert, who smiles silently for most of the interview, tells him at the end: "You can't do a talk show in character being a right-wing blowhard for years on Comedy Central. It can't be done!" He laughs. "Good luck."