They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. For Holly Faris, it’s also inspired a political conversion.
Sitting in the front-row bleachers of the gymnasium at Camden County College, a patriotic silk scarf tied around her neck, Faris stuck out from the crowd gathered for a recent Hillary Clinton rally.
However, you probably wouldn’t guess the Sicklerville, New Jersey, resident was fresh from Las Vegas where she impersonates Clinton and other public figures for a living.
“Pretty much if they’re over 50 or dead, they’re in my repertoire,” said Faris, who began impersonating Clinton when she ran against Barack Obama in 2008 “as a goof.”
After Clinton lost in 2008, Faris hung up her “Hillary wig” and focused on her other impersonations including Cher, Tina Turner and, until recently, her most popular, Joan Rivers.
“I don’t look like anyone I do. It’s all makeup and paint,” Faris said, her voice gradually morphing into Clinton’s flat-A, Chicago-esque accent. “But I can do the voice and tell you how ‘I’ve always been friends with Donald Trump. I read his book, but it stopped on chapter 11.'”
… Get it?
For the record, the real-life Clinton insists she’s never been friends with Trump.
Last year, the former Secretary of State announced she was running for president. Now, Faris has a Clinton gig about once a week with more requests coming every day — and she’s always paired with a Donald Trump impersonator.
“They’re coming out of the woodwork now,” she said.
Faris keeps a close watch on the candidate’s changing hairstyles — she says she’s had her new Hillary wig recoiffed three times in the last six months.
She has the look down, but Faris also has to listen carefully not just to what Clinton says, but how she says it. Faris records all of Clinton’s TV appearances on her DVR and watches online videos on her tablet while she makes dinner for herself and her husband.
“I look at different expressions, how she moves her hands all the time,” Faris said. “She’s got a slight lisp, which I just kind of realized.”
Faris has also realized something else — when she first started impersonating Clinton eight years ago, she was an Obama supporter.
“When I saw that she had a real possibility to win this time, I started really working on Hillary, and in working on her and researching her, I fell in love with her,” she said.
So what changed? Faris said she has learned more about Clinton’s background in advocating for women and children and about her experience as Secretary of State, and has concluded she may have underestimated Clinton’s qualifications.
“It’s very hard for me to do her and be condescending when I do her because I am so pro-Hillary now,” she said.
Still, Faris is not above making a few cracks about Bill Clinton’s infamous infidelity.
“You can only make so many pantsuit jokes before you have to start talking about foreign policy,” she said, her voice once again flattening into her Clinton impersonation. “‘I was at the first uprising for Egypt, and you know, I was able to deflate that uprising, and Bill says if anyone could deflate an uprising, it’s me.'”
It’s the kind of dig that taps into what many people don’t like about Clinton — the established political power couple she’s part of and their brushes with scandal.
But while she may be a Clinton supporter, Faris is first and foremost an entertainer. She wants her audience to get laughs, although she admits it would be great to keep the gigs coming for another eight years.
“Hey, it’s a living,” she said.