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Political Impersonators Say Government Shutdown Is Bad For America, Good For Business

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Like a lot of people, Reggie Brown isn't thrilled with Congress at the moment.

"I think it's ridiculous what's going on with the government right now," Brown tells HuffPost.

Brown -- a comedian who bills himself as the "World's #1 Barack Obama Impersonator" and whose income was once speculated to be higher than the actual president's -- stands to gain the longer lawmakers are at an impasse.

"It gives me a lot of material to do what I do," Brown says. "These days I can get up there, sometimes say a headline from a newspaper, and people think it's a punchline. It's that ridiculous."

Ridiculous -- but profitable. Any time political matters involving the president grow especially fraught, "my bookings increase," says Brown. "This week alone, Jimmy Kimmel called me on Monday. I did a spot on his show. Yesterday Arsenio Hall called me, I did a spot on his show. ... It's great for my business."

Dustin Gold, who manages political impersonators and puts together political comedy shows -- and who's attracted the Southern Poverty Law Center's attention for anti-immigration activities -- says he's had a "few calls about doing some stuff" since the shutdown started. None of those calls have been for someone impersonating the mysteriously tan House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) -- which is good, Gold says, since he doesn't have "anyone orange enough" to play him.

Gold says he could see things going south, though, if the shutdown is protracted.

"When stuff happens in Washington, and they're bickering too much," Gold says, that can lead to folks not wanting to see actors portraying the elected bickerers. "They don't even want to make fun of them. They don't even want to see them." (Whom do they want to see? Gold says he's been getting a lot of requests for Ronald Reagan and Hillary Clinton impersonators. His "weirdest" recent request, he says, has been for someone to impersonate conservative Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli. He's also searching for an actor to play New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.)

Brown, too, hopes a shutdown resolution comes quickly. "First and foremost, the welfare and well being of America is my number one goal," he says, sounding quite electable. "My business takes second to that."

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