Every four (or eight) years, a bloodless revolution takes place in America: One presidential impersonator's phone falls silent, while another's begins ringing off the hook.
The former has happened to George W. Bush impersonators. Ever since Barack Obama's victory in November, calls for men like Steve Bridges, a Bush look-alike, have dropped dramatically, according to Randy Nolen, personal manager for both Bridges and Reggie Brown (reggiebrown.net), an Obama impersonator whose fortunes are rising.
There's always healthy demand for presidential impersonators to appear at association or corporate meetings. Usually, the faux luminaries run through a comedy routine and pose for pictures. Some also record video invitations, as Brown did for the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, to drum up attendance for its May 2010 meeting in Washington, D.C.
The going rates for accomplished Obamas, including Brown and Iman Crosson (premierespeakers.com), typically range from $5,000 to $10,000, plus airfare and expenses. (Steve Bridges, who appeared regularly on The Tonight Show, still asks for $25,000 -- a relative bargain compared with the real former president, who can command six times that, not including security costs.)
Which president is better for impersonators? Shawn Hanks, vice president and director of speaker relations for Franklin, Tenn.-based Premiere Speakers, says, thus far, "Dubya" remains comedically richer. "President Obama just doesn't have the ‘Bushisms' or as many quirks," Hanks notes, somewhat wistfully. There's always 2012.