Day 6

Donald Trump impersonator John Di Domenico is having a huuuuuge year

This week, Republicans gathered in Cleveland to officially nominated Donald Trump as their candidate for President. For Trump impersonator John Di Domenico, the last year has brought an unexpected windfall of gigs, money and comedic opportunity. He tells Talia what it's like to inhabit Donald Trump's outsized persona and shares some pro tips on how to be a convincing Donald.
John Di Domenico (L) and the real Donald Trump (R) in mid growl.
In the 1993 film 'Dave', Kevin Kline plays your nice guy who runs an employment agency and is generally unexceptional, aside from the fact that he looks and talks EXACTLY like the President of the United States.

When his doppelgänger president wants to sneak away for a quickie with his mistress, Dave is recruited by the secret service to act as a stand- in. Then the president has a stroke, and Dave is hired on a more or less permanent basis.

Why reference a 23-year-old Ivan Reitman film? Well, we think we've met Donald Trump's 'Dave'. His name is John Di Domenico - or 'The Johnald" as we've been calling him. 

Get your Trump on

Di Domenico is an actor based on Las Vegas. He does more than 30 characters but for the past year, to no one's surprise, it's been all Trump all the time. That means commercials, film roles, corporate speaking engagements and 9 chances to goof around with Conan O'Brien.

"I had a severe speech impediment as a child so to get around not being understood, I used to do voices," he tells Day 6 guest host Talia Schlanger. Now, he does them for a living and that once shy kid is reaping the rewards of impersonating one of the most over-confident public figures around.

Di Domenico's days are filled with public appearances plus a lot of character upkeep.

"I usually check as many news sources as I can and then I practice for about an hour," he says. Then he gets to work on his Donald Trump wigs (he has three valued at more than $12,000) and then the suits and the inventory of makeup that gives the perfect off-orange complexion.

"He's kind of in my head non-stop. I'm actually starting to dream about it, which is very strange," he says.

Donald Trump impersonator, John Di Domenico, in character at one of his many recent appearances. (John Di Domenico)

Would the real John Di Domenico please stand up

When not in character, John Di Domenico looks nothing like Donald Trump. He's shorter and younger. His eyes are a different colour and his lips are more plump than Trump's. Then there's the hair; Di Domenico is purposefully all-the-way bald rather than Trump's confusing half-baldness.

"This is a custom-made wig and I like the fact that I can have a bald spot in the back," he says.   

Di Domenico has perfected the Trump raccoon-eyes affect, a feature that he accentuates by keeping his naturally dark eyebrows bleached.

His carry-all makeup kit has sponges, brushes, bases and polishes. In other words all the surgical instruments he needs to make the transformation into Trump. The face and hair alone take an hour but, as they say, the clothes make the man.

"My shirts are VERY expensive," Di Domenico says as he drifts into The Donald's exact tone and diction. "Because Trump wears only the best of the best. So I've got very fantastic shirts. Incredible shirts."

John + Donald = Johnald

For Di Domenico, the Trump connection goes back 12 years but it's never been this strong - and that's saying something because Di Domenico once jumped out of a birthday cake dressed as Austin Powers at a Trump birthday party.

"I have to tell you, I feel like Rocky. To have a character suddenly surge like this and take over my entire business and my career is just incredible," he says.

He also says he's not worried about a win or a loss for Trump. Di Domenico thinks the calls will keep coming either way and in the case of a loss, he'll have plenty of time to find and perfect the next impression. That said, he's not so sure Donald is going away any time soon.

"This is just anecdotal, but it would seem to me from the response I get when I'm in character, that he's going to win," he says.

From guests at corporate events to some of the upper brass, he says people feel compelled to talk to him and confide in him their plans come election day. For Di Domenico, it's a sign that he's doing this right.

"It makes me feel as though I'm doing this character well enough that people feel a connection".   

We'll find out if John is right about that when the U.S. elects a new President on Tuesday, November 8, 2016.

Click on the 'Listen" link to hear John Di Domenico teach Talia the finer points of a Donald Trump impersonation.