David Carl is a New Yorker — just like Donald Trump. He has a mop of blonde hair — just like Donald Trump. And he even has crowds of people gathering to cheer, laugh at and debate him on a nightly basis — pretty much just like Donald Trump. Perhaps that’s why the comedian decided to start playing Donald Trump, a role that he can’t seem to shake now that the election looms closer and the Republican candidate shows no signs of slowing down.
Carl brings “Trump Takes on… Boston,” a part-improv, part-mock debate, to Laugh Boston opening Oct. 8 and running through Election Day. The show is a spin on the sketch series he’s been performing in New York (“The Road to the White House”) and audience members have the opportunity to debate, prompt and sing along with Carl’s frighteningly accurate Trump.
Parts of your New York show foretold what could happen at the first presidential debate — now that they’ve come and gone, how accurate do you think your predictions were?
There’s a very specific way he interrupts that I think we got right — he keeps just saying, “Wrong, wrong,” and “What about the e-mails?” He’s not too hard to predict. [Hillary’s] much harder because she’s an actual intelligent person who likes to let people see that; she also likes to use the English language well.
Are there any Trump ticks that people might not notice that you have from playing him for so long?
He says, “By the way” a lot — sooo much. He says it in that incorrect way where he’s not relating two things and he’s just changing the subject completely. Maybe I’m paying attention to it more now, but I think news reporters have started saying it a lot more than they used to, too. It’s like the Trump virus, in the least harmful way. Just a theory.
Do you think he’s rubbing off on you too?
The one word I can’t say anymore without cringing is “great.” He’s ruined the word “great” for me.
As we’re getting down to crunch time, do you think Trump’s become a riskier character to play because it’s getting pretty real?
I play a lot of characters, and he’s by far the most depressing I’ve ever researched. We’re all sort of in pain, but there’s something cathartic about the show, when you can laugh at it. The research part isn’t [cathartic for me], but I’m used to doing it.
Do you think Trump supporters come to the show?
It’s hard to tell, they’re incognito a lot of the time. We had a few come to the last one, and they’ll come up after and say, “I love the way you’re playing him.”
There’s so much ground to cover with Trump as a character; how do you know what to focus in on?
The trickiest thing with Trump is topping him. He’s so much crazier than any character anyone plays fictionally. In my mind, he’s this bored petulant grown child billionaire who needs something to get him off.
What do the audience members expect to hear about?
People like bringing up the TPP [Trans Pacific Partnership], I don’t know why. It’s sort of funny, but that’s the talking point that comes up every single show. And people like bringing up Putin, that’s fun.
How are you handling Putin?
[In character] We’re very good friends. We love going to the bathhouse together. That’s where we share secrets. He puts his forehead against mine and says, ‘I don’t love you, but I respect you.’
Do you think once the election is over, you’ll keep doing the character?
I would love if November 8th is the last time I ever play this guy. But if we’re stuck with him and the audience still needs some healing laughter, then maybe. Our goal is to give people a platform to release their frustrations and take them out on Trump.
Has anyone ever gotten really mad at you?
I had a campaign staffer from one of the other big Republican candidates randomly on a panel for a show I sat in on. I walked up as Trump and really dumped on her candidate. At first she thought it was funny, but then got riled up in character and put me in a headlock. Like, we were all pretending, but that was trippy.
That’s the fun, cathartic part about this show — if someone can release whatever negative feelings they have, that’s healthy. I don’t think we should become numb to the crazy things happening, but I think it’s all right to laugh about it, and then take action. We don’t have to punish ourselves into feeling depressed constantly.
If you go:
Trump Takes on... Boston
Oct. 8 to Nov. 8
425 Summer St, Boston