Hey, Dion—What’s the Secret to Your Successful Obama Impression?

By Heather E. Schwartz

Dion Flynn appears at Proctors on August 30 in his one-man show, “The Only Brown Kid in the Trailer Park.” He’s perhaps most famous for his President Barack Obama impressions on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and “The Tonight Show.” We just had to know—how does he do it? And how does doing an impression compare to performing in his own autobiographical show?

Playing Obama is a challenge because everyone knows him and the audience lets you get away with nothing. You learn early on that you CANNOT please everyone. Someone is always going to hate you and someone will think you’re the best. To quote the Eagles, I now know, “You can’t please everybody so you’ve gotta please yourself.”  

For me, the key to getting it right is to get relaxed. The camera is right up on me. I know I’ll be seen by millions of people. So I try to be relaxed and available to the material and available and ready for what Jimmy Fallon will unload on me as my scene partner. I also really familiarize myself with the script, so that I’m clear on how the rhythms of the jokes can go once we’re shooting. Of course, jokes don’t always go the way you plan them. That’s why relaxed readiness is the key. 

Playing Obama is a lot different from doing my own work in “The Only Brown Kid in the Trailer Park,” which is very personal.  That’s easier in that I know me. I am an expert on me. I’ve been me my whole life. Also, unlike on NBC, I’m the writer. The story is mine. I have control over what is said, and I’m also self-directed. 

That’s not to say I work in a vacuum. I’ve played the show in front of many audiences to develop it, and I’ve let audiences guide me on some things. If it’s funny, they laugh. If it’s harrowing, they gasp. If it’s a confusing combination of hilarious and awful they may vomit—but hopefully through smiles. It’ll be great to see how the Capital Region reacts.

MopCo Presents: Dion Flynn "The Only Brown Kid in the Trailer Park

THIS SUNDAY, August 30th @ 7pm, GE Theater at Proctors!




Take a Master Improv Class from Dion Flynn:

After his show on Sunday, he will be staying to teach an improv class on Monday evening!

You may have heard that our friend Dion Flynn, who plays Obama on the Tonight Show, is doing his one-man-show at Proctors on Aug. 30. We are so excited to announce that he is doing a workshop at Mopco on Monday Aug. 31st from 7-9. 

Dion is amazing. He may be the best improviser we have ever seen, or at least is right up there with the best, no kidding. And he is an incredibly insightful teacher.



Meet the author

Heather E. Schwartz has always had a passion for writing, grew up to make a career of it, and was surprised when she struggled to write this bio. In addition to writing, she loves laughing, improvising, and dreaming up crazy ideas.