Words & Deeds

Donald Trump comedian draws laughs in Boise all weekend

Comedian Bob DiBuono as Donald Trump on “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.”
Comedian Bob DiBuono as Donald Trump on “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.” Comedy Central

When comedian Bob DiBuono started working up a Donald Trump impression six months ago, he had a specific goal: Get on “Saturday Night Live.”

“That’s really the only forum for people that do voices,” explains DiBuono, who is headlining at Liquid Laughs, 405 S. 8th St., in Boise through Sunday.

“SNL” hasn’t called yet, but DiBuono has appeared about a dozen times since March on Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.” His take on Trump is jaw-dropping — from the way he moves his mouth to his choice of words.

It’s been a career changer for DiBuono, 47, who is based in New York City.

“Every artist — you look for that one break, whatever that is, that gets you exposure,” he says. “This has been it for me.”

DiBuono spends about 25 percent of his stand-up routine doing voices. About 4 minutes is spent on Trump, whose polarizing real-life personality bleeds onto the comedy stage. The impression is almost divisive, DiBuono says.

“You get people who love it, and people who almost get angry: ‘Oh god, he’s so good at it, it’s making me start to not like this impression.’ ”

That’s a side effect of politically charged impressions. People who don’t like the politician inherently appreciate the idea of making fun of someone.

“But the other people feel intrinsically emotionally attached to the person that you’re impersonating,” DiBuono says, “and they almost feel like they have to defend that person. That’s what’s hilarious when you do an impression. It’s like you’re putting down their father. It’s nuts!”

DiBuono is careful to let stand-up audiences know that he has no political agenda. That being said?

“I want Trump to win it, because if he wins, I’ll be rich,” he says, laughing. “Even if the world blows up. I’m willing to risk the health of the United States and our well-being for me to be successful. I’m pretty selfish.”

DiBuono’s has lots of other excellent impressions. He’s done Bill Clinton on CNN. His imitation of actor Matt Dillon has confused listeners of Jim Breuer’s radio show. (“They really thought it was Matt Dillon,” DiBuono says, laughing again. “They’d think, ‘This guy’s a jerk!’ ”)

But the reaction to Trump has been nothing short of, well — “unbelievable,” to use a Trump phrase executed to perfection by DiBuono.

As for “SNL”? DiBuono still hasn’t given up hope.

“They certainly know I exist now,” he says.