The Face of the Singing Trump
On some long-forgotten date in 2016, impressionist, singer and comedian Jeff Tracta was performing for a packed house at the Borgata in Atlantic City.
He’d kept the crowd roaring, tearing through a good chunk of his extensive repertoire – the kind of spot-on celebrity impressions that leave you wondering “how is that voice coming out of that person?” – and decided to try out something new. On that auspicious night, he was going to officially debut his breathtakingly accurate impersonation of then-president elect Donald Trump.
If you think back to where we were as a country in late 2016 (or, where we are now, really), you’ll understand that there were two vastly different reactions the crowd might have had. Fortunately for Tracta, they ate it up.
“It was like a Trump rally. They went crazy,” says Tracta. Peppered in and among the song and dance numbers were a few pointed barbs at Trump’s then-ally Chris Christie (“I love him. He’s a great guy and I wanted him in my cabinet, but he wouldn’t fit.”) that the New Jersey crowd particularly liked. As far as debuts go, it was clear from the get-go that the Trump impression was something that could gain some traction. Tracta’s manager was in the audience, and told Tracta afterward he needed to “transform” himself into Trump.
“We did a little video of me dressed as Trump and, unbeknownst to me, my manager sent it off to America’s Got Talent,” says Tracta. The producers had the same reaction as that Borgata crowd, and within weeks Tracta was winging his way to California to perform for Simon Cowell, Tyra Banks, Howie Mandel and Heidi Klum on AGT. Performing hits like Backstreet Boys’ “I Want it That Way” and MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” in character as the 45th President of the United States, he earned a spot in the quarterfinals before losing the popular election and being voted off the show. As a little something to remember him by, he passed out “Make AGT Great Again” hats to the judges and the crowd.
Tracta now hangs his hat in Savannah Georgia where he hopes to launch his own show and entertain some of the 10 million visitors a year that visit with his huge variety of impersonations that has made his shows such a huge success. This impersonator is not a one trick pony but is having fun with the Singing Trump for now.
It can be a tough road trying to get laughs and applause for a figure as polarizing as Trump, but for Tracta that’s just part of the fun. “When I was a kid, Rich Little did the best Richard Nixon. I thought it was genius. I remember when he did it, he was just funny. He wasn’t mean… You didn’t really know how he felt about the guy,” says Tracta. “That’s how I play Trump. I’m not up there to do anything but entertain an audience… People ask me, ‘Are you a Democrat or a Republican?’ and I just say, ‘I’m an entertainer.’”