Comedy Central invited some friends over to meet President Donald Trump, or, at least Anthony Atamanuik playing Trump. Atamanuik portrays the Donald on Comedy Central’s new weekly series The President Show.
Right off the bat, Atamanuik’s Trump took note of the press in the room. “The crooked media are here today!” he said. “And it’s a wonderful thing.”
The show is a mix of a Stephen Colbert-style talk show and a Trump fireside chat, Atamanuik said. Set in an ersatz Oval Office, there’s banter between the president and his sidekick — Peter Grosz as Vice President Mike Pence — some bits out on the street, as Trump meets regular Americans, and a guest. Trump was particularly excited about the guest on his first show, Keith Olbermann. “The guy is leading the resistance,” he said, before vowing to knock him out with a drone strike on the show.
Atamanuik sharpened his Trump skills on a 40-city “Trump vs. Bernie” tour, as well as in debate and sketch specials for Fusion.
Asked how his family might contribute to the show, Trump quickly said Donald Jr. would pitch in, then forgot the name of his other son, Eric.
Eric may have gotten off better than Tiffany Trump. “I don’t know what she’s doing, I think she’s gaffing,” the president said. “We don’t need her in the front of the house.”
After Trump was done regaling the crowd, Atamanuik stepped out, out of character, to meet it. He likened Trump to “an insecure dowager living in a mansion” and a “New York apartment dweller, one of those weirdos with a granny cart, and he got elected president.”
Atamanuik called out the news media numerous times for, in his mind, holding Trump to the standards of a regular guy. “This isn’t Voltaire’s clockmaker,” he said. “It’s the responsibility of people to step up and stop pretending it’s normal.”
For a much more normal taste of television, there is Weekends With Yankee, a new travel show hosted by Richard Wiese and produced by WGBH Boston’s Studio Six. Wiese gets his mileage in on his other show, Born to Explore, which has sent him to Botswana, South Africa, Iceland and other exotic ports. He’s cool with the New England-focused travel around Weekends With Yankee. “I just get in my car and put NPR on,” Wiese says.
Wiese believes the series is at its best when it visits a locale the viewer may know fairly well, then “shows it in a different way.”
One highlight for the new, 13-episode season: WaterFire in Providence, Rhode Island, which features artful bonfires across Providence’s various rivers. “It’s almost like a religious experience you might have in Europe,” Wiese said.
We asked Wiese what goes into being a good TV host. “Be curious and like people,” he says. “I’m always floored when I meet politicians who don’t like people.”
Atamanuik’s Trump, meanwhile, had no comment.