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Presidential Pretenders Share Their Best Moments

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
June 20, 2011

This week’s Washington Post Magazine article “Political Faux” features two presidential impersonators: Larry Graves as Barack Obama and Bob Heck as Bill Clinton.

Larry Graves is actually a teacher, and when recalling how he got into the impersonation gig, he says his students once chased him around the playground while shouting “Mr.President! Mr. President!” He says, “So, I sent my pictures to Cast Of Thousands, and the rest is history.”

Bob Heck shares that he had chosen to pursue acting, particularly in Washington during Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign. “Doing Clinton was really Elvis with a hoarse voice,” he says, “I did Elvis – all the years and all the songs – and then all of a sudden, I got a cold, and I realized, ‘well, there’s Bill!’”

Heck says his role of Clinton raises certain popular subject matters. “Women invariably expect flirtatiousness, which I do in a tasteful manner…because Bill would. I’ve actually met the president. I did Clinton to Clinton,” he notes.

Graves and Heck also worked together in 2008. At the time, Heck played then Republican presidential candidate John McCain. Heck notes that people treated Graves (playing Obama) the way they wanted to treat the actual Obama. Heck recalls a woman who came up to him and called Obama “the anti-Christ.” He says she spouted off vile remarks, to which he walked away. To Heck, you either run with those comments…or run away from it.

What does it mean for America when impersonations can be feasible careers for some people? Graves says, “It means we need to smile more. Laughter helps in the most tense of situations. It’s an admirable profession. I love it.”

Heck adds, “People need to have a release to the upset of politics, the rancor that goes on where the right and the left cannot even sit down at the same table. So I think you can work out your frustrations and get a good laugh when you hear a political impersonator either make fun of the character, or as the character make fun of others or situations.” [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

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