Rindge man makes a ‘huge’ impression with Trump gag

  • Eric Jackman impersonates Donald Trump outside of the Peterborough Town House on Election Day. Staff photo by Benji Rosen

  • Eric Jackman with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. COURTESY PHOTOS

  • Jeff Cornell, left, Eric Jackman and Mike Jackman on-set. (Courtesy photo)

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/9/2016 6:56:26 PM

Eric Jackman arrived at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester the night before the primary wearing a red tie, a navy suit for his heavier frame, a layer of bronzer and a blonde wig with Donald Trump’s swoop. Jackman, by day a customer representative at Honda of Keene, wandered around the arena, protruding his lower lip, waving his hands and speaking like “The Donald.”

It wasn’t until the rally started that the months of writing and perfecting his Trump impression with his twin brother, Mike, and the years of impersonating celebrities culminated in one moment.

“Look at that,” the real Trump said, beckoning Eric to approach the stage. “Oh no! Tell me Trump doesn’t look like that.” “Melania, would you marry this man?” he said to his wife offstage.

As the arena erupted in laughter, Eric stared face-to-face with one of the most polarizing politicians ever. Trump, like the rest of us, has a sense of humor, thought Eric.

“As serious as he thinks he takes himself, he doesn’t take himself that seriously,” said Eric.

Eric revealed Trump’s playful side to the whole arena, as he disarmed the candidate through comedy.

“Everybody likes to laugh at the end of the day,” said Mike, who co-writes the material. “I don’t care how tight you project yourself, how hoity- toity, whatever front you put on, everyone’s got a funny bone.”

He and Eric have always received joy that they were able to make others laugh.

The Jackmans have impersonated others their whole lives, starting with friends and teachers. As they matured, they mimicked celebrities. At Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School, they mocked television personality “Dr. Phil,” and dressed as former President Bill Clinton and Linda Tripp, a part of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, for a talent show.

It wasn’t until eighth grade that they fell in love with politics. They visited Washington D.C. as part of the American Heritage Tour Jaffrey-Rindge and South Meadow middle schools offered students.

“Something about that trip, and seeing those places for the first time, we were just fascinated by the whole idea of Congress and politics,” said Mike. “The personalities that exist down there.”

As the Jackmans entered high school, they became political junkies. They added George W. Bush, Gov. Jesse Ventura and other politicians to their repertoire. Trump was on this list, said Mike. “Rosie O’Donnell is disgusting. Take a look at her. She’s a slob,” he said in his Trump persona. But, the unpredictability of this election, with 12 Republican candidates in the primary, and Trump, a reality TV star, out in front, was the perfect platform for Eric’s Trump impersonation to blow up.

The Donald

In the buildup to the primary, Trump was just one of the many candidates the Jackmans mocked. But, after Eric wore a Trump costume in January, he and Mike realized its possibilities. With Jeff Cornell, their friend and a filmmaker, they created “Donald Trump Announces Cabinet,” a YouTube video they released five days before the primary.

Filmed on a leather couch in the parlor of the Grand View inn, the monologue is at times tongue-in-cheek. Outside of the Bible, “Trump: The Art of the Deal” is the greatest book ever, states Eric. Interspersed with these one-liners are jabs that question Trump and his Republican allegiance. “My favorite Bible verse is about being wealthy,” he says. “I love women so much I’ve married three of them.”

Eric has also appeared on radio shows, crashed Ted Cruz’s Peterborough Town Hall, performed at comedy clubs and even played guitar to Maroon 5’s “This Love,” at Harlow’s Pub. Like in the YouTube video, Eric’s impersonation is a mix of cheeky humor and wit.

“All good comedy and humor has at least a kernel of truth to it,” said Mike. “You can speak the truth about something and wrap it in a ridiculous Donald Trump impression...We want people to think and look into things that we say.”

Some of their jokes are spoofs of actual remarks. Others they make up to critique Trump’s ideas or rhetoric.

“If you don’t complete this task, I will execute you,” said Eric, in his Trump impression. “Do you think ISIS is good at beheading? I can behead so much better than ISIS.”

“People hear that, and it’s shocking,” he added, out of character. “Holy S! Is that something Donald Trump said?”

They also pepper their comedy with their libertarian beliefs and even parts of Sanders’s platform. As violence escalated at Trump rallies, notably in Chicago, the Jackmans said they would consider including criticism of the atmosphere of those events.

As they do, though, they realize this opportunity and even Eric meeting Trump face-to-face is a product of living life in New Hampshire.

“In that moment was the uniqueness of New Hampshire, how much of a circus the primary process is, and how ridiculous this election is,” said Eric.

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