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 or 702-383-0288. Follow @Mikeweatherford on Twitter.

Entertainment Videos
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Taste of the Town: Henderson Booze District
Those who like to support local businesses and sample local products will find the best concentration in an unlikely spot: a Henderson industrial park.
Founder of theatre talks about a favorite play
Ann Marie Pereth, founder of A Public Fit Theatre Company, speaks to the Review-Journal about which play she would see every day if only given one option. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N interactive exhibit
The new exhibit features original and recreated props and plenty of interactive features. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Writer's Block and Lucy are open in Las Vegas
The Writer's Block and Lucy are open in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas ice cream shop offers everything in the kitchen sink
Have you ever wanted to eat an ice cream sundae out of a kitchen sink? Who hasn't, right? At Sloan's, located inside the Venetian, you can do just that. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Maxie’s in Las Vegas puts eggs Benedict in a box
Chef David Mangual at Maxie’s in The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas makes his eggs Benedict in a brioche “box” layered with spinach, bacon and tomatoes and topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caviar Twinkie Served at Stripsteak in Las Vegas
Stripsteak Executive Pastry Chef Vivian Chang and Chef Gerald Chin create a novel savory food item that looks like a familiar sweet treat at the restaurant in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
NAB attendees battle to qualify for Fortnite event
NAB is sponsoring an online video game event with Epic Games’ Fortnite allowing attendees to qualify to go head to head with top players. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Arctic Shrimp Sandwich at Saga near Las Vegas
Chef Gert Kvalsund, a native of Norway, founded Saga Pastry + Sandwich in Henderson to give Scandinavians a taste of home. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar talk UNLVino
Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar talk about the upcoming UNLVino vent. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Christie Brinkley at Smith & Wollensky
Christie Brinkley, in town for her run in “Chicago” at the Venetian Theatre, paid a visit to the Grand Canal Shoppes’ still-under-construction Smith Wollensky on Monday for a ceremonial first toast at the bar. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Two artists create a mural for peace in Las Vegas
2 artists create a mural for peace in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside Kaos nightclub and dayclub
A look at new club at Palms.
CinemaCon Brings Theater Professionals To Caesars
CinemaCon is not just celebs, it's also a place where theater owners can browse the latest in seats, projectors and concessions. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas restaurants provide a taste of ballpark food
The Las Vegas Ballpark, home to the Las Vegas Aviators, will serve food from Giada De Laurentiis and a team of favorite local restaurants. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Taste of the Town: Bobby Flay Opens Shark at the Palms - VIDEO
Bobby Flay opens Shark at the Palms; his first high-end restaurant in 15 years.
Chef Marc Marrone at T-Mobile Arena
Chef Marc Marrone has opened a bao cart at T-Mobile Arena. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio fountains celebrate 'Game of Thrones'
A medley of the theme for HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and the song “Winter Is Here” from the show premiered at the Bellagio Fountains water show on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday, March 31, 2019. The new number will run in rotation through April 13. The series premieres its eighth and final series on April 14. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegan Aunt Chippy talks about being on Jimmy Kimmel's show
Concetta Potenza, Aunt “Chippy” to Jimmy Kimmel, talks about her first time being featured on her nephew’s show. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The "Flight Unknown" At Bar Centro at Bazaar Meats Las Vegas Features 5 Innovative Cocktails
The "Flight Unknown" At Bar Centro At Bazaar Meats Las Vegas Features 5 Innovative Cocktails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cotton candy crowns pancakes in Las Vegas
At Maxie’s at The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas, executive chef David Mangual fills pancakes with fruit and cream cheese and piles on pastel cotton candy, which is melted in a stream of chocolate syrup. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Bananas Foster Pancakes go up in flames at The Stove near Las Vegas
Chef Antonio Nunez at The Stove in Henderson, near Las Vegas, flames the pancakes tableside for a fiery presentation. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
El Loco Rollercoaster at Circus Circus' Adventuredome
The El Loco rollercoaster opened at the Circus Circus' Adventuredome in February 2014. It features a 90-foot ascent, followed by a drop that produces a negative 1.5 "verticle G," a 180-degree turn, and reverse 240-degree roll that turns into an inverted drop. The coaster reaches a maximum speed of 45 mph and is the only indoor coaster of it's kind in the U.S., and is the second indoor El Loco coaster in the world, according to MGM Resorts.
Bartending flair competition at the Nightclub & Bar Show
Highlights from the ten contestants who competed for the Shake It Up Flair and Classic Competition at the Nightclub & Bar Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Justin Kingsley Hall shares details on his next gig
Chef Justin Kinglsey hall shares some details about the newArts District restaurant he's developing with Kim Owens. (Al Mancini/Las Vegs Review-Journal)
Film prompted Carrie Hogan to found 2 farmers markets in Las Vegas
Carrie Hogan founded Fresh 52 Farmers and Artisan Market in Las Vegas after realizing she had to do something about the influence of factory farms on the food supply. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Seafood dishes being made at Pasta Shop near Las Vegas
Executive chef Edwin Martinez incorporates fresh pasta into Lobster Salmon and Saffron Shrimp Sauté at Pasta Shop Ristorante & Art Gallery in Henderson, near Las Vegas. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Andrew Carmean will be the only local participant in upcoming demolition derby
Andrew Carmean, a demolition driver, will be the only local participant in upcoming derby at the Plaza Hotel. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Masso Osteria first anniversary in Las Vegas
Scott Conant was in town Tuesday to host a one-year anniversary party for his Red Rock Resort restaurant Masso Osteria.
Home Front Page Footer Listing