While his striking resemblance to the president has earned him national notoriety, we were curious about Reggie Brown, the 30-year-old comedian who regularly impersonates Obama for Fox News, and most recently made headlines after performing his shtick before an audience of conservatives at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans.
Brown’s routine at turns delighted the crowd with jokes made at the expense of Obama and Black Americans, and alternately infuriated them with jabs at GOP politicians.
Who is Reggie Brown? Closeted conservative? Liberal sell-out? Political provocateur? Or innocent comedian thrown into a national spotlight for which he was unprepared?
“My political affiliation is that I’m an entertainer,” Brown told NewsOne in an interview yesterday.
Though he wouldn’t reveal whether he is a Democrat or Republican, Brown does hope the public sees his act as entertainment and not political.
“I just hope the people can see the humor in what I do and not allow that to negatively affect their views on [Obama] as a president,” he said.
Brown revealed to NewsOne that his mainstream gig as an Obama impersonator occurred by happenstance. Brown explains that Fox News reached out to his former manager, Phil Barber, to book “a comedian” and Barber referred them to Brown. Brown would not discuss how or why he took the RLC gig.
At the RLC conference, Brown — in character — began by playing to the conservative audience with racially-charged humor: “My favorite month is February, Black History Month. Michelle celebrates the full month, and I celebrate half.”
Minutes later, however, Brown targeted Republican figures. “[Mitt Romney] might make a great president. Along with his first lady, second lady, third lady…” Some in the audience booed. Shortly thereafter, Brown’s mic was muted, and a Republican organizer came to the stage to end his performance.
See Video Below:
Brown, refutes reports that he was yanked offstage after turning his acid tongue on the GOP. “It was a time constraint,” he said.
Although Brown possesses the uncanny ability to imitate the president’s most distinct mannerisms and inflections, Brown has more in common with the nation’s commander-in-chief than behavior and physical appearance. Brown was born and raised in Chicago, the city where the president got his political footing, and he too, like Obama, is of mixed race. Brown is the product of an Irish and Polish mother, and African- and Native-American father. Akin to Obama, Brown was also raised in a single-parent household. With such similarities to his presidential muse, Brown says Obama’s election speaks volumes on the nation’s racial progress.
“We proved to the world that we aren’t incapable of evolving as a nation that embraces our culture,” Brown said. “Most of the culture now is people of mixed race. Our society is very rich with different ethnicities. I think its time we show we can embrace that.”
Growing up, Brown always possessed a knack for entertaining. When he was 19, after attending the University of Illinois, Brown dropped out to pursue a career in modeling with the Elite and Ford agencies. He eventually returned to school to take voiceover and acting classes.
Brown later pursued a career in broadcasting. He began writing for NBCchicago.com, where he and his team won an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in New Media Interactivity. It was then Brown says his life changed forever. Around that time, a relatively unknown Barack Obama was beginning his political career in Brown’s hometown of Chicago.
“People felt compelled to tell me about my resemblance to [him]. I figured I had a window to take advantage of this opportunity. I embraced it, and here I am today.” Brown learned to walk, talk and breathe like Obama so much that he began to take local gigs as a professional impersonator.
While Fox News is notorious for its hypercritical stance on Obama, Brown says that his impersonations are not meant to harm or offend anyone.
Brown submits that he’s just a regular guy who loves to make people laugh, and volunteer his time to inner-city kids.
“They say laughter is the best medicine and I love making people laugh and having a good time,” he said.
But when asked whether he had any reservations about working for Fox News, or for Republicans who may not respect the equality or humanity of Black Americans like Obama or himself, Brown refused to comment.
As for his current gig as an Obama impersonator, Brown thinks he has much longevity, and has hopes of someday playing Obama on the big screen.
“It has huge potentials on the corporate level. That’s how I made the bulk of my income over the years. Eventually one of my goals is to land a role in a movie about the president. I think it’s the role I was born to play as an actor and entertainer,” Brown said.
However, he wants to make it clear that he is no one-trick pony.
“I know it’s not my only talent, it’s just one of the things I can do.”