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Encyclopedia > Impressionist (entertainment)

An impressionist is a performer whose act consists of giving the "impression" of being someone else by imitating the other person's voice and mannerisms.


The word usually refers to a professional comedian who specializes in such performances, has developed a wide repertoire of impressions, and regularly seeks to add to them, often to keep pace with current events. Someone who imitates one particular person without claiming a wide range, such as a lookalike, is instead called an impersonator. In very broad contexts, "impersonator" may be substituted for "impressionist" where the distinction between the two is less important than avoiding confusion with the use of "impressionist" in painting and music. A comedian, or comic, is an entertainer who amuses an audience by making them laugh. ... A look-alike is a person who bears a close physical resemblance to a celebrity, politician or royalty. ... Impersonator is someone who tries to seem like someone else. ... Impressionism was a 19th century art movement that began as a loose association of Paris-based artists, who began exhibiting their art publicly in the 1860s. ... The impressionist movement in music is a movement in European classical music that had its beginnings in the late nineteenth century and continued into the middle of the twentieth century. ...


Usually, the most "impressive" aspect of the performance is the vocal fidelity to the target — usually a politician or famous entertainer. Props may also be employed, such as glasses or hats, but these are now considered somewhat old-fashioned and cumbersome: the voice is expected to carry the act.


Because animated cartoons often lampoon famous people (sometimes obliquely), a penchant for impressions has been one of the marks of a successful voice actor. Many cartoon characters are intended to be recognized by the audience as evoking a specific celebrity, even when not explicitly named. With such indirect references, the entertainment value does not lie so much in the technical achievement of exactly reproducing the voice so much as in merely making it recognizable; the joke lies in the reference to a celebrity, not in its rendition. An animated cartoon is a short, hand-drawn (or made with computers to look similar to something hand-drawn) film for the cinema, television or computer screen, featuring some kind of story or plot (even if it is a very short one). ... In contemporary usage, parody is a form of satire that imitates another work of art in order to ridicule it. ... A voice actor (also a voice artist) is a person who provides voices for animated characters (including those in feature films, television series, animated shorts), voice-overs in radio and television commercials, audio dramas, dubbed foreign language films, video games, puppet shows, and amusement rides. ...


In any case, there is a difference between being able to do "impressions" and being an "impressionist," which usually refers to a stage performer.


Impressionists in Britain

During the 1970s British television was awash with impressions of Frank Spencer, a character from a hugely popular British sitcom called Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. This may have been because Frank had such distinctive mannerisms and dress sense which gave performers a number of visual shortcuts to cover for failings in their abilities. At any rate it seemed that, for about a decade, no British impressionist's act was complete without a dose of Frank. Image File history File links Gnome-globe. ... The 1970s decade refers to the years from 1970 to 1979, inclusive. ... British television broadcasting has a range of different broadcasters, broadcasting multiple channels over a variety of distribution media. ... A British sitcom is a situation comedy (sitcom) produced in the United Kingdom. ... Michele Dotrice and Michael Crawford as Betty and Frank Spencer Some Mothers Do Ave Em (1973-1978) was a highly successful BBC sitcom, written by Raymond Allen and starring Michael Crawford and Michele Dotrice. ...


From the mid 1960s to the early 1980s Mike Yarwood dominated the impressionist scene, with his own TV shows regularly attracting more than 10 million viewers. The 1960s decade refers to the years from January 1, 1960 to December 31, 1969, inclusive. ... The 1980s refers to the years of and between 1980 and 1989. ... Mike Yarwood, OBE (born 14 June 1941, Stockport, England) is an English impressionist and comedian. ...


Impressionists were very popular on the televised talent shows of the 1970s; Lenny Henry is a notable example of an act that developed from these roots. This page meets Wikipedias criteria for speedy deletion. ... The 1970s decade refers to the years from 1970 to 1979, inclusive. ... Lenworth George Henry, CBE, better known as Lenny Henry (born 29 August 1958), is an English entertainer. ...


In the 1990s there was a certain absence of impressionists on television, with the demise of Spitting Image and Rory Bremner mainly concentrating on political figures (notably John Major, Tony Blair Gordon Brown and also members of the Royal Family). Then in 1999 came Alistair McGowan's Big Impression with Alistair McGowan and Ronni Ancona, and in 2002 came Dead Ringers. Both these shows featured impressions of celebrities and television personalities, and also sporting figures on the former and politicians on the latter. For the band, see 1990s (band). ... Spitting Image was a satirical puppet show that ran on the United Kingdoms ITV television network from 1984 to 1996. ... Rory Bremner Rory Bremner FKC (born April 6, 1961, Edinburgh, Scotland) is a British impressionist and comedian, noted for his political satire and is widely regarded as being the master of impressionist comedy. ... Sir John Major, KG, CH, PC (born 29 March 1943) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and leader of the British Conservative Party from 1990 to 1997. ... For other people of the same name, see Tony Blair (disambiguation) Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born May 6, 1953)[1] is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, Leader of the Labour Party, and Member of Parliament for the constituency... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the Trooping the Colour ceremony The British Royal Family is a shared royal family. ... 1999 (MCMXCIX) was a common year starting on Friday, and was designated the International Year of Older Persons by the United Nations. ... Big Impression is a British comedy sketch show. ... Alistair McGowan (born November 24, 1964) is a British impressionist and actor. ... Ronni Ancona Ronni Ancona (born 1968) is a Scottish impressionist and actress of Italian/Jewish ancestry who won the Best TV Comedy Actress award at the British Comedy Awards for her work in Big Impression. ... For album titles with the same name, see 2002 (album). ... Dead Ringers is a UK radio and television comedy impressions show broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Two. ...


Some notable impressionists


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