•NEW YORK • There is only one Donald Trump and yet, as he has continued his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, there has been a groundswell of would-be Donald Trumps - who are imitating him for laughs.
Comedic impressions of Trump are on the rise, in late-night TV and the Internet, on programmes such as NBC's Tonight show (whose host, Jimmy Fallon, has been known to put on a distinctive wig and an unplaceable five-boroughs accent) and Saturday Night Live (where both Darrell Hammond and Taran Killam have played him this season).
Last week, Trump was impersonated by Johnny Depp, the Oscar- nominated actor and star of the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise, in an online film for the Funny Or Die website that became an Internet sensation.
Needless to say, the genuine article has taken note of his many copycats and he has made it clear he believes that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
"Now it's gotten out of control, right?" Trump asked rhetorically in a telephone interview last Friday. "Now it's really gotten crazy."
He said the proliferation of impressionists was "a great honour" and a sign of the health of his presidential campaign. "If they didn't do it - if they didn't have any interest - I guess things wouldn't be going so good."
Among the professional Donald- gangers who met with his approval was Fallon, who played his mirror reflection in a Tonight show sketch when Trump appeared on that programme last September.
"I think he's a terrific guy," Trump said. "I also think he does some great, great imitations."
Also earning a rating of "excellent" from Trump was Hammond, the veteran Saturday Night Live performer who has played Trump on that sketch comedy show for more than 15 years.
Trump said he had not watched Depp's portrayal of him but added that between the two of them, "there's a difference, physically. But I think he's a great actor".
Told by a reporter that the Funny Or Die video presented a particularly satirical - some might say scathing - depiction of his ascent in the 1980s, Trump replied: "Well, these days are even better than the 1980s and the 1980s were pretty good."
If any particular parody should present him as cocky or arrogant, he said he did not mind. "I know the business," he added. "I know the game. And I'm not offended."
Even so, he stopped short of offering any advice to comedians or actors who wanted to improve their mockery of him.
"They have enough guidance," he said with a chuckle. "They've got, certainly, plenty of material, that's for sure. Some are really good. And some are really, really awful."
As to which impressionists did not amuse him, he said it would be impolite to name names.
"Some of them are good people but they don't have it even close," he said. "They actually think they're good. They actually tell me how great they are at it and I say, 'Give me a break.'"
He paused and added: "I don't say that to them because I never like to insult people."
NEW YORK TIMES