Now, I loved this show when I was growing up (and any good Muppet fan worth his salt should hop on over to YouTube to see their rendition of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody) and it was oodles of fun to relive these shows with my kids. It was a delight to see the likes of Don Knotts, Zero Mostel, and Milton Berle ham it up with Jim Henson’s creations.
It was the episode with Rich Little, however, that started me thinking. In addition to the Muppets, I enjoyed watching The Rich Little Show when I was young. Little is a master impressionist and his show was full of his takes on celebrities on different situations. One of my favorite parts of his show was when he would be on stage and the audience would shout out different characters and places (“Do Jack Nicholoson waiting for a bus”, “How about John Wayne working for the DMV”) and Little would act them all out.
This memory got me to thinking about where are the great impressionists of today?
By this, I do not mean the people on Saturday Night Live who can do impressions of one politician or another. My question means where are the person (or persons) who can do a wide variety of impressions.
But then, my question went a little bit deeper as I thought about the dearth of impressionists. My questions then became who (with the exception of politicians) is worthy of being made fun of with an impression. As I cast about the world of Hollywood, I simply couldn’t think of anyone (male or female) who is ripe for an impression.
As I though about it, the last celebrity who has had an impression made about them is Arnold Schwarzenegger, and even that impression (I’ll be back) comes from a movie that is twenty-six years old.
Is it because they are so bland and homogenous that no one can make a good impression of Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Ansiton, Heath Ledger, Tom Cruise, Hillary Swank, or Philip Seymour Hoffman (just to name a few of the contemporary acting class)
So while I may mourn the fact that there is no entertainer out there with the talent of a Rich Little who can do a variety of accents and vocal inflections, it is more sad that there is no Hollywood citizen the likes of Groucho Marx, Greta Garbo, Jimmy Stewart, or Cary Grant who is worthy of an impression.