WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama knew he would be getting questions from people all over the country in Monday evening's video chat with the public, but one thing he didn't know was that he would get a question from himself. At least, from someone who looks and sounds a lot like him.
"Dear Mr. President. It's me, your premier President Barack Obama impressionist of the United States of America," began the video clip submitted by Obama impersonator Iman Crosson, who appeared in a suit and seated behind a mock Oval Office desk surrounded by photos of the Obama family. President Obama, the real one, can be heard laughing in the background.
"Let me be clear: Do you believe that comedy such as my videos or [Saturday Night Live], etc, can influence the outcome of an election?" asked Crosson, whose pauses in speech and intonation made him sound almost exactly like the real Obama. "Thank you. God bless you. I'm not actually you. However, I do endorse this question."
The video cuts off as a red phone on the desk rings and Crosson says, "Oh, I gotta get that."
A White House official said Obama had had no idea the impersonator's video was in the mix of video submissions, and that as soon as he saw it, "he burst out laughing."
"First of all, the only problem with that guy is he doesn't have any gray hair," the president replied once the video ended. "He needs to update his act a little bit."
He went on to give a serious answer about the importance of satire in politics.
"In most countries, you don't have the sort of comedy and satire about people in power that we do here. And, so, I don't know if any of this stuff affects an election, but I know that it makes our country stronger that you can make fun of the president or anybody and everybody can get a laugh," Obama said to viewers. "That also makes sure to remind me, that, you know, that I work for you guys."
The exchange came as part of a virtual interview Obama did with the public, via YouTube and Google Plus, to discuss his State of the Union address. In the end, nearly 228,000 people submitted more than 133,000 questions; more than 1.6 million people voted on which questions Obama should take.
Other notable moments during the interview included people asking Obama to dance, sing and talk about how he and Michelle Obama planned to celebrate their 20th anniversary this fall. Obama also personally offered to look at a man's resume looking for work. One thing that didn't come up, despite lots of interest from the public: pot-related questions.