A Comprehensive Ranking of Donald Trump Impressions, From Ted Cruz to Jon Stewart

Trump Impressions
No presidential candidate has been impersonated more than Donald Trump. Newsweek

Impersonating Donald Trump is more complicated than it seems. On the one hand, it should be a piece of cake. He has catchphrases, he has hand gestures, he has facial expressions, he has an accent. Everything about him is distinct and totally Trump. The problem is that all of his characteristics are so outlandish that mimicking them is rarely going to be as amusing as watching Trump in the first place.

Great impressions highlight a characteristic we may not have been consciously aware existed, but when we see it, we recognize it immediately. With Trump, we are aware of just about everything—he is not very subtle, in case you haven't noticed—and it is only the true masters who are able to get to that next level of depth, be it the precise way he may interrupt someone, or his jittery verbal syncopation. Most Trump impersonators, though, rely too heavily on the obvious cues, and the impression falls flat.

Today, we take a look back at the past eight months of Trump impressions, examining what works and what doesn't—and why politicians should leave comedy to the professionals.

22. Ted Cruz

Notice the shit-eating grin on Cruz's face after he delivers this contrived set piece. And yet, somehow this is only the 978th most awkward moment of Cruz's campaign.

21. Jeb Bush

This was from back in September when Jeb's soul hadn't totally been crushed. Poor Jeb.

20. Wally

We could dedicate an entire post (and then some) to pets that have been dressed up as Trump—from dogs to cats to God knows what else—but for now we'll just let Wally have all the glory. We can't, however, condone the #DognaldStrump hashtag.

19. Rand Paul

Unlike Cruz and Bush, at least Paul took a stab at the voice. Other than that, terrible.

18. Chris Christie

Christie is circling around the New York-iness of Trump's accent here, but can't quite land the plane.

17. Stephen Colbert

This is a horrible impression, technically. He goes in and out of the voice, the hair is lacking a Trumpian sheen and it goes on for way too long. To be fair, this was taped in the early stages of Trump's candidacy, before the Late Show had even premiered.

16. Jimmy Fallon

Fallon may have the best hair and makeup department of anyone on this list, but his Trump impression is to comedy what Trump is to the Republican Party. This is a perfect example of pounding the obvious touchstones—"It's gonna be yuge!"—and ignoring anything that might actually be funny.

15. Dana Carvey

You can tell Carvey probably worked this out in the green room just before the show. He kind of goes crosseyed at one point, which is a nice wrinkle.

14. Hillary Clinton

Compared to the other politicians? Surprisingly not terrible. Compared to an average Trump impression? Pretty terrible.

13. Dirk Nowitzki

The NBA legend's Trump is so atrocious that it's actually kind of endearing.

12. Frank Caliendo

There was no way master impersonator Frank Caliendo wasn't going to get in on Trump. It's not his best, but it's certainly serviceable.

11. Josh Gad

Trump's campaign in a nutshell.

10. @DeepDrumpf

@DeepDrumpf is a Trump Twitter bot created by someone from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab. Drawing from debate and speech transcripts, the account uses an algorithm to tweet as Trump speaks. It's (not really that) surprisingly accurate.

9. Taran Killam

Someone besides Darrell Hammond had to take the reins for Saturday Night Live, and the logical choice was the show's best impressionist, Taran Killam. So far his Trump hasn't been bad, but if Trump should, say, become the 45th president of the United States, Killam's impression will become the most crucial element of the show.

8. Kelly Ripa

Either Ripa is slowly morphing into Regis, or this is a pretty hilarious Trump costume. Props are due.

7. Jon Stewart

Sadly, we are no longer able to enjoy Jon Stewart lambasting Trump on a nightly basis (although Trevor Noah has been low-key killing it), but the former Daily Show host has made one notable appearance to impersonate Trump since the Orange One announced his candidacy. Using Cheetos dust as makeup is dedication worthy of the top 10.

6. Johnny Depp

"I want you to slather every square inch of Trump Tower...in brass!"

5. Anthony Atamanuik

Anthony Atamanuik can do a great Trump impression. James Adomian can do a great Bernie Sanders impression. Together, the two comedians have been staging mock debates between the two polarizing candidates, performing everywhere from improv stages to CNN. Adomian's crazy-haired Sanders is great, but Atamanuik's spot-on Trump steals the show.

4. Conan O'Brien

Conan O'Brien
Newsweek

There's isn't much to Conan's go-to Trump impression, which he has been doing for years. Sometimes sucked-in cheeks, pursed lips and a flick of the hair is all it takes.

3. Kyle Dunnigan

Kyle Dunnigan is a stand-up comedian, actor and writer for shows like Inside Amy Schumer. When he unveiled his Trump impression to Howard Stern last summer, he nailed some of the subtle nuances of the then-brand-new candidate's speaking habits unlike anyone we'd seen or have seen yet.

2. Darrell Hammond

Hammond has reprised his classic Trump impression for the 2016 election, but his best moments of Trump mockery came well before The Donald set his sights on the White House. Hammond cast Trump as a monotone control freak eager to hawk any product imaginable, and by living inside of this brilliant angle on the billionaire, he turned in the flat-out funniest Trump impression. That is, unless you count...

1. Donald Trump

Donald Trump
Donald Trump shows the audience his hands during the GOP debate on Thursday March 3. Rebecca Cook/Reuters

Of course, there is no better Trump impersonator than Trump himself. He is an entertainer playing a character—and that character is #TRUMP. It's been the key to his entire campaign. Every debate performance, every ludicrous tweet and every cable news appearance is a form of parody. This is at the heart of why he is so hard to impersonate. Trump is already a caricature of himself: What more can a comedian do?

A Comprehensive Ranking of Donald Trump Impressions, From Ted Cruz to Jon Stewart | Culture