How To Impersonate a Celebrity

Celebrity impersonations are funny when done accurately. If you do it well, you can even get paid for it. A good celebrity impersonation can really bring on the laughs at any party or event. Here’s how to do it right.

  • Choose your celebrity wisely. Try to impersonate someone that young and old alike will recognize. This means, the person has to be famous or notorious enough so that people recognize it the minute you walk on stage and start your impersonation. Good celebrities to do are those that have a trademark look or line. However, try to be a little original. Many celebrities are too commonly impersonated, such as George W. Bush, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elvis, Cher and Michael Jackson. Good ones to do are Jack Nicholson, Paris Hilton, Kathie Lee and Hoda from the Today Show, Tom Cruise and Oprah. If you want to get ideas, read the tabloids or watch entertainment channels. If you want someone political, go with world leaders like North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il, the Queen of England or U.S. President Obama.
  • Watch and learn. The best way to do an impersonation is to study the character you are trying to copy. Take note of the way the person speaks, any accent or the tone of the voice used. Does the person have any mannerisms that you can copy? For example, Paris Hilton likes to touch her hair while Elvis has his trademark curled lip and swagger. Watch video footage of the person. Look at film clips and observe how they dress and move.
  • Dress the part. Hair, makeup and the right costume can go a long way in helping you achieve the look. It’s not enough to sound like the character. You have to look like him too! Think of how the actors on Saturday Night Live use hair and makeup to complete their impersonation. Will Ferrell does a great James Lipton from the Actor’s Studio as well as George Bush with a little help from the hair and makeup department. Cher, Michael Jackson, Elvis and Madonna impersonators take this to heart.
  • Move and move just like the celebrity. If you’re doing the impersonation in front of a crowd, you need to learn the moves and walk of the person. Take the walk of Pres. Obama as he boards the plane, as imitated by Wanda Sykes. Or how about the swagger of Elvis Presley? Can you moonwalk like Michael Jackson? A good impersonation is one that is recognized as soon as you walk on stage, not only because of the way you are dressed, but also because of the way you move.
  • Exaggerate a bit. To make your impersonation funny, exaggerate one aspect of the character. For example, if the person is known for blonde hair, make it slightly more puffy or elaborate than usual. Angelina Jolie is famous for her full lips, so make your pout at big, red and puffy as possible. Tyra Banks always bats her eyelashes while speaking, so you can focus on that bit. Draw attention to the quirk of the character in your impersonation.
  • Practice 'til you get it right. You will spend countless hours in front of the mirror to get it just right. If you want to do a great impersonation, keep doing it over and over again.

Have fun with your impersonation. However, keep it tasteful. You don’t want to offend anyone with your antics but rather just bring a smile to your audience.


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