The United States presidential election is fast approaching, and the topic of its outcome has gradually taken over a lot of our popular culture. In addition to various news programs and networks, audiences have been able to see more comedic takes on the nature of the election -- including Our Cartoon President. The Showtime adult animated series, which is executive produced by Stephen Colbert, has been reimagining the Trump administration as a workplace comedy since it debuted in 2018. Our Cartoon President includes an all-star ensemble cast, led by Jeff Bergman, who has voiced President Donald Trump on the series since its inception. As the series has gone along, Bergman has also lent his voice to former Vice President Joe Biden, who has now become the Democratic nominee in the upcoming election.
Bergman is no stranger to the world of animation, taking over voice acting duties for iconic characters such as the Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester, Yogi Bear, Fred Flintstone, George Jetson, and Porky Pig. His filmography has also included Zap in the Skylanders franchise, and The Joker in both Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face. With Our Cartoon President, Bergman's voice work escalates into new territory -- and not just because he's voicing both of the candidates in a monumental election.
ComicBook.com recently got a chance to chat with Bergman about Our Cartoon President, and the role the show has in the current political landscape. In the process, we also spoke about his decades-long career in animation, his upcoming roles as Bugs Bunny, Sylvester, and Yosemite Sam in Space Jam: A New Legacy, and more!
ComicBook.com: How are you doing amid the pandemic? Has your job evolved in any way since the quarantines first started?
Jeff Bergman: It's been very busy. As far as the industry is concerned, one of the few things that is able to work with a minimum of complications is the voiceover industry and animation. So it's been very busy.
That's good to hear. With Our Cartoon President in particular, what has the recording process been like amid the pandemic? It seems like there's a really quick turnaround in terms of what's included in the show.
There is an incredibly quick turnaround. In fact, every week we do the cold open, and it's a topical cold open that we record on Wednesday and the animators animate it immediately, so it can drop on YouTube on Friday, and then it will air in the episode that airs on Sunday. Literally, just 25 minutes before this call, I just got word that we're going to do another session because President Trump made a comment about the election and not having a peaceful transfer of power. So we're going to have maybe one or two lines as it relates to that comment in the show. So it's nuts.prevnext
What has it been like to find comedy and find parody in the topics covered on Our Cartoon President, as things in the news have gotten direr and unpredictable?
I mean, for me, I get to laugh about it when I do the show. But it's when you start to think about it very seriously, it's crazy what's happening. But fortunately the writers and performers, we get to do the show every week and we get to find some humor in at all. Otherwise, I think we would all go bonkers, right?
I totally get what you mean. I can imagine that there's a catharsis to doing the show.
Absolutely. I mean, it's a release. It really is. Because you can get so mired in watching too much news. I mean, it's like a diet -- we love carbs, but we don't want to have them all day long. There are only so many news outlets that you can ingest, and it's hard to get away from it. So this show has just been a blessing because I've been able to just crack up with everybody when we do it. And it's not like we just go after the Republicans. We have fun with everybody. Republicans, Democrats. So that makes it fun, because we're not trying to skew anybody, in particular. It's all blown out and very silly.prevnext
What is it like for you to find the voice of both Trump and Biden? It seems like doing an impression of an established cartoon character would be one thing, but to do an impression of a big public figure feels like it would be a whole other challenge.
The very fact that these are two old guys in their 70s, duking it out in the boxing ring, I find that particularly hilarious. I mean, it's just, it's so crazy that these are two old guys in their 70s. It reminds me of that movie that Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro did, Grudge Match, where they were in their 60s, 70s finally and doing a rematch after many years later. And so, to me, it's just so funny.
And they're so different. It couldn't be more different. And yet there's a strange feebleness that they both have, I mean, Trump mispronouncing Thailand, and Biden has had so many gaffes. They both do, so there's a lot of comedy that's just built into it for us.prevnext
Have there been any moments on Our Cartoon President where you're just like, "I can't believe that we're doing this?"
Oh my God. Constantly, Jenna. I mean, first of all, we get to swear on the show, so I get to say four-letter words. Every week they write things [that] I can't believe that we get to say. I mean, certainly, they have to get it approved by the network. And so there are certain things in jokes that I can't even tell you that didn't make it. But it's really cool because if it was like a Y-7 show, a show that aired on Cartoon Network, anything that would be before Adult Swim, we obviously would be very restricted on what we would say. So this just makes it more fun that we can say almost anything.
And the fact that we're not being monitored. At least, I don't think we're being monitored. We always hope the President's going to make a comment about the show, but I don't think he has, but we're hoping that at some point he would.prevnext
How has your impression of Trump - and Biden, to an extent - evolved since you initially started voicing them?
I think [Trump's] character is more animated, more outrageous. We have had him in crazier situations. He was almost stately presidential in maybe the first few episodes. And so they write dialogue now where speeches aren't as long, and there's a lot more characters that we have in the show. So that's as far as that goes.
In Biden, just we have him [as if he's on] Red Bull, he's so amped up in all the episodes that they just got him caffeinated. So I can't wait to see what the debates are going to be like between the two of them, how we're going to handle that. It'll be interesting.
I can imagine that that's going to be a challenge for you in a really entertaining way.
Yeah! Because we record both of the voices separately. I'll do Biden first sometimes, and then I'll do Trump. So we have each of them live in their own separate world, so it does not bleed one character into the other.prevnext
Pivoting into your more broad voice acting, how does it feel to have multiple generations of viewers be fans of your take on a certain character?
I feel so lucky, because for me, I got into all of this, and then into the business of doing animation cartoons, because I wanted my to prolong my childhood. So I grew up with The Flintstones, and Superman, and Batman, and Spider-Man, and The Jetsons, and Yogi Bear. So to be able to be a part of that animation history, it's pretty cool. Sometimes, I don't even think about it, because you're just catching your breath for the next breath of what you're doing in that moment. But it's certainly been a number of years since I did Steven Spielberg's Tiny Toon Adventures back in 1989, which is pretty much when I started.prevnext
Looney Tunes Cartoons came out on HBO Max earlier this year, and reports indicated that it was the most popular original show on that streaming service right out of the gate. How does it feel to have that franchise still be so popular, and resonating with so many people and fans of all ages?
First of all, the animators have done a tremendous job, because it looks very classic and it's so reminiscent of the early/mid/late 1940s, which is really what they were going for. So the gags are very much like that and look like that. And I think people just wanted a break from everything that's happening. Nothing in that show at all refers to anything in our contemporary life that we're dealing with today, which I think is great, because I think we're saturated with that as it is. So I'm not surprised that it would do really well, because it's a good product and we just need a break from all the news cycle. So I'm just so happy to be a part of that.
I totally get what you mean. The episodes of it that I've seen were such a nice reprieve from everything.
Yeah! And it's so smart, because if you put on anything with regular TV, you're going to see some ad. Or if you have YouTube on, if you're searching for things, you're going to see something political. It's going to remind you that. And I just think that this is total escapism. And so I liked that, particularly in my career now.
I'm also working with Jellystone, which is another show that will be on next year on HBO Max. And it's the Hanna-Barbera Universe with Yogi Bear and Ranger Smith and Huckleberry Hound, and all the different Hanna-Barbera characters converged together. Again, that's going to be another really fun, silly thing for kids, and we haven't seen that in a long time. So I'm having a ball doing that show.
I actually wanted to ask you about Jellystone, because I'm a huge Hanna-Barbera fan. What can you tease of the process of working on the show or what people can expect from it?
Well, you're going to see a lot of the classic characters. I mean, there are so many. In one episode, there could be fifteen or twenty Hanna-Barbera characters. It's a really, fast-paced moving show. And some of the concepts are very contemporary, but again, nothing ever gets too real.prevnext
I'm going to assume you can't say much about it, but I wanted to ask about Space Jam: A New Legacy. What has it been like, for you, to add to that franchise, especially considering how much it has grown and become more beloved over the years?
First of all, this is my first major feature film project, so that in and of itself is super cool. The fact that it's Space Jam 2, and it's LeBron James. I have to tell you, I think that movie is going to be sensational. It's going to knock people's socks off. It's really cool. I can't, obviously, say anything about it at this point until they release information, but I can only say this much -- people are really going to like it. There's a lot of stuff in there that is going to be really cool.
I'm so honored to be a part of it because it's something that is really special to me because I met Mel Blanc when I was just a junior in college when he was doing one of his lectures. That really started the whole trajectory of my career as a performer. Meeting him, that really changed everything. So I take that with me all the time.
Our Cartoon President airs Sundays on Showtime.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.prev