This week’s podcast of This American Life is proof that even though Ira Glass and company have been in business for almost 20 years, they’re at the top of the radio game. “Play The Part” (available on iTunes until this weekend) has three parts, but the highlight is the story about Louis Ortiz, an Obama impersonator.
Ortiz was down on his luck in 2008 and not paying much attention to the campaigns as the election started to heat up. That is until a bartender told him he should try to shave his goatee and put on a suit. The resemblance is surprising, Ortiz has similarly big ears to the president as well as a big toothy grin.
Ortiz practiced in the mirror and made his public debut as the commander-in-chief at the last game in the original Yankee stadium. With his own audience and people lined up for pictures and to shake hands, Ortiz was shown on the jumbo tron and his second life began. He made appearances in rap videos and at a slew of public events all over the world. Slowly, Ortiz was able to pay off some of his bills even while struggling with his impression of Obama. Here’s his appearance on Flight of the Concords:
His life reflected that of POTUS, though, and as Obama’s popularity started to fade so did Ortiz’s fun. He was threatened and heard racial slurs, even almost being attacked by New York firefighters.
Like all episodes of This American Life, “Play The Part” lasts an hour. Ortiz’s segment is about 40 minutes long and it’s available here or in the iTunes music store. Get it now before the iTunes download expires on Sunday.