Opinion: Obama impersonator says he was pulled off GOP stage because of time, but official says he was inappropriate

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A Barack Obama impersonator who was awkwardly asked to cut his act short Saturday at the Republican Leadership Conference says he didn’t get the hook because he was making fun of conservatives, but because he had exceeded his time.

Reggie Brown, who does a passable job of looking and sounding like the president, was about 17 minutes into his 20-minute act when his mic was cut and music began playing. Then a smiling man grabbed him by his arm and told him his time was up. The man was RLC President and CEO Charlie Davis.

CSPAN viewers who had been watching Brown’s act - a mixture of barbs at the expense of both Democrats and Republicans - cried foul on Twitter and on the blogosphere when it appeared the impersonator got the hook after taking shots at GOP presidential hopefuls Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann. But Brown told CNN on Monday that it was a time issue, not something more partisan.


‘What happened is that I went over my minutes. They told me I had 20, but they aired a video before me and then my intro took up more time,’ Brown said, referring to the appearance of several men pretending to be the Secret Service that preceded his entrance.

‘When our liaison [Davis] — the guy who introduced me – came up to me onstage, he said, ‘Hey, I am sorry—your time is up,’ and so I finished and went backstage,’ Brown explained. ‘I was told it was because of my time, not my act, not because of anything I said.’

Davis told CNN and others that the hook had to do with content, not time, saying the mixed-raced Brown had delivered some off-color racial jokes that went too far.

‘Had I been in the room I would have pulled him sooner. We have zero tolerance for racially insensitive jokes. As soon as I realized what was going on I rushed backstage and had him pulled,’ Davis told the cable network and other news organizations in a statement.

What were the jokes?

One line that got a nice laugh from Republicans came when Brown, impersonating Obama said that February was his favorite month because it was Black History month. He said his wife Michelle celebrates all of the month but he only celebrates half of it. Following up on that theme, Brown, still playing Obama, said that his mother was white and from Kansas while his father was African, from Kenya. “So yes, my mother loved a black man, and no she was not a Kardashian.”

Both of those jokes came around the five-minute mark of the 17-minute bit. It took Davis 12 minutes to make his way to the stage to stop Brown who only had 2 or 3 minutes left and had clearly moved on to joking about Bachmann and Gingrich?

Kirsten Boyd Johnson of Wonkette writes of the curious case:

[Brown] actually got all the way through those “Obama is black” jokes — including one about how they should rearrange the room according to pre-Civil Rights Act regulations, and everyone laughed — before he used the joke that just tells itself, “Newt Gingrich’s campaign is falling apart.” AHAHA… see, we laughed at that one? This is when the audience finally turned on Reggie Brown. They booed him. DO NOT INSULT NEWT.

Viewing the video below, it does appear that that is when the awkward ending began.


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-- Tony Pierce