I’ve covered off the many and varied genres of comedy that stand up comedians can choose from, but one I’ve not covered much is the artform of the impressionist. Probably one of the less common genres, an impressionist comedian not only has to be skilled at writing and performing humorous material, they also have to perfect their impressions. Revolving an act around mimicking other people and copying their mannerisms, movements and speech is not easy and usually comedians who use this style found they had a knack for mimicry at a young age.
If you are performing for friends and family, you have probably been mimicking a family friend or someone familiar to them. If you are moving on to performing in public, you should think about how the audience can identify with your impersonation. That usually means, more well known impressionists will stick to impersonating celebrities, famous politicians or sports figures. The person they are impersonating will generally be well known to most, if not all of the audience.
Depending on your personal choice, you may choose to focus on impersonating just one person, or a selection. There are pro’s and con’s to both. If you choose to stick to one, there is a risk that the audience may soon become bored. Similarly, if you copy too many, the audience may be disappointed you didn’t perform more of a particular character and you may also struggle to perfect so many in one performance.
Generally, you should be satisfied that you have perfected your performance without the need to tell the audience who you are impersonating. Obviously the most important part of your impression is getting the voice right, including the speed at which they talk and any dialect or accent. Next will be to become familiar and copy any mannerisms, gestures and facial expressions. Obviously, the more famous the person you are impersonating, the more material should be available to you to research. Check out if they have a web page and for any material on Youtube.
Lastly, having perfected your impersonation, you will need to consider how you can make your comedy material relevant to that person.