Trevor Noah and Idris Elba

Trevor Noah and Idris Elba. Image screenshot via Instagram @trevornoah

Mandela vs Obama: Trevor Noah and Idris Elba’s hilarious ‘impression off’ [video]

Who pulled off a better Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama impression between comedian Trevor Noah and actor Idris Elba?

Trevor Noah and Idris Elba

Trevor Noah and Idris Elba. Image screenshot via Instagram @trevornoah

South African-born comedian Trevor Noah and Hollywood actor Idris Elba had a funny Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama “impression off”.

Several impressions have been made of the late former South African president as well as the former United States president. In some of his stand-up comedy shows, Noah, 40, impersonates both Obama and Mandela. Additionally, Elba, 51, portrayed Madiba in the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.


During the former Daily Show host’s What Now? podcast, the two celebrities had what they call a “Mandela/Barack Off”.

In the clip, Noah (who went first) explained that his impressions of Mandela and Obama are linked, and he switch from one impression to the other with ease. While Elba’s impression of Mandela left Noah in awe, The Suicide Squad struggled when he switched to Obama.

Noah posted a clip from the podcast on his social media accounts with the caption: “I didn’t know that a Mandela/Barack Off was real until [Idris Elba] challenged me to one! It’s on!”


During the interview, Noah and Elba swapped stories about taking the plunge and moving to America for work, as the actor and DJ is originally from the United Kingdom. Elba shares the secret he was told not to reveal when auditioning for The Wire, and they also discuss why Africa may be the future of entertainment.

Speaking about his character Russell “Stringer” Bell on The Wire, Elba said he found out in the most awkward way that his character would killed off in season three.

“I didn’t know my character was gonna die until we got the episode,” Elba told Noah.

He jokingly added: “It was tough love.”

The Beast star explained that losing his role on the HBO drama series, which was his breakout role, was scary.

“You usually get your scripts, you know, like two, three in a row, they write them. And I think the way I got it, I got episode seven. I was like, ‘Oh, um, episode seven. I got episode seven. Where’s eight? Can I get eight? What’s wrong?’”

“‘Uh, you’re not, not, you’re not in eight,’” he continued, reenacting his interaction with the showrunners at the time.

“‘What do you mean? I’m not in eight?’ ‘You should read, you should read it.’ That’s how I kind of found out.”

Elba also shared that he hid his British accent from the show’s executives and the cast to secure the role.