It’s hard to forget “Saturday Night Live” comedian Dana Carvey’s impersonation of George H.W. Bush. But it wouldn’t be prudent to ignore the other Bush imitator: Jim Morris.
Morris, a Massachusetts native, is a comedian and political impressionist who got the nod to roast Bush at his first White House Correspondents’ Dinner as president in April 1989. Taking on Bush’s recognizable voice and sputtering speech pattern, Morris delivered a spot-on impression. The president, Morris recalled, laughed so hard he had to cover his face with a napkin because he was near tears.
“He was very generous that way and self-effacing with his own humor,” Morris said in a phone interview on Monday. “I felt like he was an old friend. He made you feel very comfortable. He wanted to know about your personal life.”
The two would meet again at other events, including a performance at Ford’s Theatre in 1990, and at motivational gatherings, according to Morris.
“I always walked away from an encounter with the man feeling much better about my country and much better about myself,” Morris said. “I was proud to be able to do in this country what might have gotten me thrown in jail in another country. I mean, just think about it.”
Morris acknowledges that his Bush impersonation lives in the shadow of Carvey’s, but hinted that his could have come first.
Finding himself in the same room as Carvey at “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” Morris said the comedian and “SNL” star asked, “How do you do that?”
“We both captured the essense of the fellow,” Morris said. Carvey “makes a bit more of a cartoon out of the guy, which sells comedy really well, and I think that I pick up the subtleties a little bit better.”
Watch Dana Carvey as President George H.W. Bush on “SNL”
Bush senior isn’t the only president Morris impersonates. He also does Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama.
And how about our current president?
“It’s really hard to do Trump because it’s so easy to do Trump,” Morris said. “It really doesn’t matter — you just have to sound stupid and arrogant.”
Of course, those of the Millennial generation might put at least the same “arrogant” label on Bush 41. True, Morris shows us another side of him. Still, at best, I’ll think of him as a man who wore nice socks.Aimee Ortiz can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on twitter @aimee_ortiz.