David Frye

I Am the President

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Comedian and impressionist David Frye was a superior voice mimic who could reproduce the voices of any number of political figures and show-biz celebrities, but it was his impersonation of Richard M. Nixon that propelled him to stardom in the late '60s and early '70s, and 1970's I Am the President captured him at the peak of his fame. While there's a noticeable level of comic exaggeration in most of Frye's impressions (especially his Hubert Humphrey, David Susskind, and Billy Graham), his Nixon is almost spookily accurate, capturing both his jowly bluster and his frequent sense of uncertainty, and even on those rare occasions when his material failed him, the strength of his performance as the disgraced performance remains impressive and funny. I Am the President was his first album, and was produced in the mold of the The First Family -- a collection of politically oriented comedy sketches recorded in the studio before a live audience, with Frye handling most of the voices but a few other actors also pitching in to help. Unlike Rich Little and most other impressionists of the day, Frye wasn't afraid to twist the knife when doing material on the president (and face it, there was plenty to make fun of in the Nixon administration), and I Am the President is a sharper and more aggressive piece of political satire than what most mainstream comics were willing to serve up at the time. (Frye's bits on Spiro Agnew are, if anything, even harsher.) If most of the material on this album has become seriously dated with the passage of time, Frye's performances are as impressive as ever, and that's what makes I Am the President worth hearing all these years later.

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