Las Vegas contest winner has been impersonating Trump for 12 years

It’s “like shooting fish in a barrel,” John Di Domenico says of doing comedy for an audience predisposed to loving him.

He’s not talking about the President Donald Trump impersonator contest he won last month at the Laugh Factory comedy club in Los Angeles.

Even though Di Domenico had what his alter ego might call a “y-u-u-ge” head start — he’s imitated Trump since 2004 — he says the competition was fierce, and judges including “Saturday Night Live” veteran Darrell Hammond faced a tough decision.

No, Di Domenico is talking about life as a corporate entertainer, versus his former life in comedy clubs.

His appearance on “The View” and other exposure emerging from the contest obscure the fact that Di Domenico didn’t really need to win it. He makes great money (in the $10,000-$15,000 range for a custom 35-minute show and meet-and-greet, he says), and about 75 percent of it comes from performing at corporate meetings, trade shows and conventions. (And for the other 25 percent, he counts voice-over work and television spots on the likes of “Conan,” not just places where folks buy a ticket to see him.)

Di Domenico, 54, moved to Henderson in 2011 but travels 25 to 30 weeks a year entertaining corporate clients. The rest of them come here, to this convention mecca. In their world, he says, “if you’re doing it properly, you should be able to go in and just kill.”

By that he means, “Do your homework, know everything you can about the group, write a killer script and then go in and knock it out of the park,” he says. “My mantra is this is not about me, it’s about them. I’m there to entertain that group.”

Limo life

Di Domenico remembers his first corporate gig in 1997. The Philadelphia native was versed in sketch comedy and stand-up — Trump is one of some 20 costumed impressions he does — but “driving all over the Northeast doing comedy, getting 50 bucks here, a hundred bucks there.”

Life on the road “was just kind of brutal. It was insanely lonely.”

But then a company flew him in for a gig, “and for the first time in my life someone was at the airport with my name written out (for the limo).” Then they rang his nice hotel room and asked if he had time to attend the “production meeting.”

Production meeting? Huh? It turned out to be people with Broadway credits wanting to light him properly. It wasn’t long before he decided, “This is what I want to do. I want to be in a nice hotel, getting paid well and doing comedy in front of a great audience.”

“It took me about three years to figure it out, how to get in. But then I just made the shift,” he says. “It’s been great, because it has kind of insulated me from the ups and downs of being a regular actor. The corporate world is always having to do a meeting.”

Honest laugh

The late impressionist Danny Gans was Las Vegas’ prime example of an entertainer who was cleaning up on the corporate circuit but crossed over to start anew as a ticketed act on the Strip.

“You can be the biggest star in the corporate world, but it doesn’t translate over to anything else,” Di Domenico explains.

Di Domenico is friends with juggler Jeff Civillico, the best current example of an entertainer bent on conquering both worlds.

Why do they bother?

“It’s important as a performer not to be shooting fish in a barrel,” Di Domenico says. “You want to get in front of a real audience, (one) that’s totally diverse.”

Earning a laugh from a comedy club audience that paid for tickets is “like a heroin rush,” he says. “There’s no group think. You’ve got to turn an audience around. A very disparate audience.”

That’s why Di Domenico didn’t think twice about entering the Trump contest at his own expense. The winner was promised the hosting job for a Laugh Factory webcast called “Real News/Fake News” and a chance to perform live in Laugh Factory clubs, including the one at the Tropicana.

He dreams of opening a show as Trump, then quickly removing his $4,000 wig and scrubbing off the orange makeup he spent an hour to apply while the other stand-ups do their set, then coming out again to show off his own bald pate.

That’s right. Di Domenico won a Donald Trump impersonator contest for a chance to be himself.

“No one knows who I am,” he says. “No one knows my sensibilities.”

Contact Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288. Follow @Mikeweatherford on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl! The 45-year-old actor posted an adorable photo on Instagram, celebrating his newborn baby girl, Tiana Gia Johnson. Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram This is Johnson’s second daughter with his girlfriend, Lauren Hashian. His oldest daughter, Simone Garcia Johnson, came from his previous marriage. Johnson and Hashian first announced they were expecting another child back in January. Congratulations!!
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend Car Show celebrates 21st year
The Stray Cats, Jerry Lee Lewis, Duane Eddy, Elvira and Mitch Polzak make appearances the 21st Annual Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend car show at the Orleans hotel and casino on Saturday, April 21, 2018.
This "Alice in Wonderland" cocktail changes colors and flavors while you sip
Take a tour of The Underground at The Mob Museum
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Big Bounce America visits North Las Vegas
Billing itself as "the biggest bounce house in the world," Big Bounce America visits Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
Disneyland debuts new foods for Pixar Fest on Friday
Pixar Fest takes place ahead of California Adventure’s Pixar Pier expansion. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sneak Peek at New Decorations, Merch and Parade for Disneyland's Pixar Fest
Las Vegas Philharmonic celebrates 20th anniversary season
Orchestra’s 2018-19 season features premiere, more (Carol Cling/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Las Vegas' newest bar is a reggae lounge
Jammyland serves island-inspired cocktails. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
This boozy milkshake is big enough to share with seven of your best friends
Fiddlestix makes an "8 Man Milkshake" that's packed with alcohol. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five Chris Stapleton songs you need to hear
D. Michael Evola opened E-String to make New York style pizza
Shamrock Macarons at Morels at Palazzo
Zuma serves a sushi roll topped with 24-karat gold
La Cirque covers their quail and foie gras in real gold
Jean-Georges Steakhouse seves chocolate gold bars
3 ways you can eat gold in Las Vegas
Artist Kathleen Nathan On The Virtues Of Library Galleries
The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District’s art galleries offers artists a more relaxed vibe for showing their work. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada SPCA Competes In Tournament Of Tails
The NSPCA and its mascot cat, Prince, are competing in an online voting challenge for a $5,000 grand prize.
Red carpet at MGM for Dan Reynolds Believer screening
Kats on the red carpet for the VIP screening of "Believer," the documentary by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds about how the Mormon Church treats its LGBTQ members.
Eureka's cocktail comes with a "buzz button" that will shock your taste buds
‘The Sopranos’ Prequel Film Confirmed
‘The Sopranos’ Prequel Film Confirmed Deadline reports that New Line has purchased Chase and Lawrence Konner’s screenplay for their “Sopranos” prequel film. The working title for the prequel is “The Many Saints of Newark.” Chase created the HBO series, which ran for six seasons, and Konner served as a writer. “The Many Saints of Newark” is set during the 1960s riots in the New Jersey city between the African-American and Italian communities. Multiple characters from the series, albeit younger versions, are expected to star in the film. The Sopranos won 21 Primetime Emmy Awards and five Golden Globe Awards during its run.
The Big Bounce America is coming to the Las Vegas Valley
The Big Bounce America. (Courtesy Big Bounce America)
The 90th Oscars Were the Least Watched in History
The 90th Oscars Were the Least Watched in History According to The Hollywood Reporter, 26.5 million watched the Oscars, a 20 percent drop from last year. The 26.5 million viewers would be an all-time low for the Oscars. Overnight returns had the lengthy ABC telecast averaging a 18.9 rating among households between 8 and 11 p.m. ET. Last year, 32.9 million viewers tuned in to watch the ceremony. The previous low for viewership was 32 million viewers in 2008 when Jon Stewart was host. The Shape of Water picked up an award for Best Picture, while Gary Oldman and Frances McDormand won Best Actor and Actress, respectively.
March First Friday theme is “Think”
First Friday art, culture, music and food event takes place on the first Friday of every month in and around the studios and galleries of the Arts District in downtown Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like