In an effort to spur additional interest in its late-night broadcasting, the parent company of Comedy Central, Viacom, has greenlit a project to follow The Daily Show. Called The President Show, it features Anthony Atamanuik in the role of Donald Trump, an impersonation he’s made famous since candidate Trump was merely running for president.
The basic premise for The President Show is that Trump has decided to forego delivering public speeches in the traditional manner of a press conference. Instead, he will broadcast “live” from the Oval Office and talk about the events of the day. Essentially, it’s going to be a take on The Daily Show with the character of Trump in the position of the host, with various segments and interviews. Peter Grosz will perform as Vice President Mike Pence.
Atamanuik’s impression of Donald Trump has been seen on The Howard Stern Show, The View and other programs. He’s also a longtime comedy veteran with work on The Colbert Report and 30 Rock. Atamanuik also had a stint with the Upright Citizens Brigade, an improv group that briefly garnered a Comedy Central show.
Critics are already commenting on the concept of giving a fake Trump a show. During the last Republican administration of George W. Bush, Comedy Central ran a brief pre-911 show called That’s My Bush. The brainchild of Matt Stone and Trey Parker of South Park fame, the show lasted only eight episodes. While it was a spoof of sitcoms and this new outing is a spoof on news journalism and Trump itself, the concepts may be different but the reality of mocking a sitting president is the same.
Viacom also faces a ratings war in which the network has already suffered casualties. With the retirement of Jon Stewart from The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert leaving The Colbert Report for The Late Show on CBS, many viewers have flocked from the previously successful hour-long news satire block. The network’s attempt at replacing its two most prominent comedians has not been without its bruises. Trevor Noah’s ratings on The Daily Show have dropped and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, Colbert’s replacement, was canceled after a major ratings slump.
Whether or not The President Show will be successful depends on many factors. However, many viewers are already complaining about the concept. As one anonymous report stated, “I don’t want to watch jokes about something that already has me angry, now’s the time for good investigative reporting, not comedy.”