My fellow Americans, today we observe a day off of work (some of us do, anyway) that we’ll probably spend watching movies or running errands or sleeping until 4:30 p.m. like some sort of lazy vampire but we should all at least take a moment to do something a little presidential. No, I don’t mean go make a diplomatic decision or actually read the newspaper or volunteer for a charity (you can do that after this). No. Spend your free time watching our favorite presidential impressions to put you in that president-y mood. Here they are in no particular order (except for Will Ferrell who is certifiably the king of this genre). Enjoy.
Will Ferrell as President George W. Bush
There’s a lot to choose from with Ferrell’s numerous Bush impressions, but this one is one of my favorites because you get a bit of a two-fer: Ferrell as Dubya and Darrell Hammond as Dick Cheney. BLAMMO.
Frank Langella as President Richard Nixon
Quite a few of our favorite impressions are on here because they’re funny, or so bad they’re funny, but Langella actually garnered a great deal of praise for his portrayal of Nixon (hello BAFTA and Oscar nods). While most Nixon impressions are over-the-top and cartoonish, Langella lent a dose of realism to the oft mocked former president. (Not that we have anything against cartoonish Nixons; there’s one further down on this list.)
Chevy Chase as President Gerald Ford
Sometimes presidential impressions are great because they’re on the nose physically or aurally; this isn’t one of those. Chase didn’t even try to sound or look like Ford, but he tapped into the overarching characteristics that colored his public image and exploited them to reap the comedic benefits. It’s probably one of the best impressions that sounds almost nothing like the president who’s being mocked.
John Travolta as Presidential Candidate Jack Stanton (an obvious parody of Bill Clinton)
This may not have been President Clinton’s exact story, but the resemblance is uncanny and Travolta’s terrible southern drawl seals the deal. Too bad no one can match the hilarity of Will Ferrell’s Dubya, but Travolta’s attempt is entertaining at the very least.
John Brolin as President George W. Bush
This one is one of those impressions that’s so bad it’s good — not quite as deliberately as when Ferrell does it, but who cares? If it’s funny, it’s funny. Just look at that rubbery, squinty face. It also helps that Bush was one of the most imitable presidents that most of us have ever witnessed.
Dana Carvey as President George Bush Sr.
George W. Bush had to have gotten that imitable quality from someone and if Dana Carvey’s impression is any indication, I’d say it came from his dad. Take a look at the original Bush impression and enjoy getting a little reminder of why the Dana Carvey years on SNL were so damn good.
Dan Hedaya as President Richard “Dick” Nixon
Yes, this movie is over-the-top. Yes, it screws with actual history. But does it do all of this in a way that’s hilarious? Yup. Hedaya gives us the classic cartoonish Nixon set against the wildly cartoonish lives of two 1960s teens in a wacky comedy.
Hey, it’s another two-fer! I know there’s a whole lot of SNL on here, but can you blame me? You can, but you’d be sorely mistaken. This little fake riff between presidential hopefuls is not only one of the best presidential impressions, but one of the best SNL skits in recent years.