Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Kathy Griffin, Anthony Atamanuik
Photo: Mark Bracamonte

The last time we saw Anthony Atamanuik’s uncannily buffoonish Donald Trump on The President Show (his boastful Christmas special I Came Up With Christmas: A President Show Christmas notwithstanding), he was unsuccessfully fleeing the daily scandals, resignations, firings, legislative failures, pesky press questions, and crumbling alibis of his life in the White House. At least he tried to, as Atamanuik took his Trump on an ultimately fruitless quest for peace deep inside his own mind. (Or, at least as deep as such a journey could be.) Only finding critics therein like Keith Olbermann and Lewis Black, alongside whatever ragged tatters of self-awareness and conscience still flap pitifully in the wind whistling thr o ugh his ears, Trump remained trapped . Well, on Make America Great-A-Thon: A President Show Special, Tuesday’s one-hour return of this anarchically funny and biting Comedy Central series, not even a feel-good telethon meant to prop up Trump’s flagging ego and chances of continued employment could turn the tide. Especially since Atamanuik’s Trump, as ever, couldn’t focus long enough to settle on just what the telethon was for.


With Peter Grosz’s always-pained, performatively straight-man Mike Pence wincing the whole way, Atamanuik’s POTUS bragged, blustered, and bumbled his way through appeals for support of: his superfluously racist Game Of Thrones wall; infrastructure; golf course development (and kids with cancer or something); porn star payoffs; Pence’s pet charity the “Straight Scouts;” and, finally, just enough go-bag money to flee the closing-in Robert Mueller. (With a plan to dump Adam Pally’s insufferably incompetent Don Jr. on a Cayman Islands runway along the way.) But, even with Kathy Griffin’s soullessly spinning Kellyanne Conway doing her damnedest to keep reality at bay, Trump, once more, found himself unable to find even imaginary refuge from his nemesis, Robert Mueller.


Played by an unrecognizable Griffin Dunne, Trump’s mental Mueller was a terrifying, hectoring figure, taunting the terrified Trump with past humiliations and coming subpoenas. Atamanuik’s greatest gift as a Trump impressionist is his commitment to portraying the thoroughly debased humanity inside “the 45th and final President of the United States” (as the show traditionally introduces him). Here, in a phantasmagorical black-and-white art film of a nightmare, Trump’s dimness seems impenetrable at first. (“Whoa, it’s a mirror-face guy!,” he exclaims delightedly at the sight of one spectral tormentor.) But Dunne’s Mueller manages to break through even this Trump’s own desperately constructed wall of willful, egomaniac cluelessness, probing Trump’s mommy and daddy issues, the fact that women don’t actually like sleeping with him, and, most cripplingly, the prospect of creepily worshipped daughter Ivanka eventually turning on him just like everyone else in his administration. When Trump awakens to an FBI raid (after slipping into some Hitlerian bunker ranting), it’s almost a relief.

Look for at least one more hour-long President Show special later this year.


Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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