ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY!

Jim Meskimen by Ray Kachatorian

I had to check my iCal calendar, but I was right- this last weekend marked the one year anniversary of live performances of JIMPRESSIONS, my one-man journey through my obsession with celebrity voices.

(Actually, it’s more a strong professional interest, but “Obsession” is much more compelling, don’t you agree? Who would watch a movie called “Strong Professional Interest”?)

I have performed JIMPRESSIONS at least twice a month, sometimes as many as eight times a month since it premiered on March 25, 2011, and as I have noted elsewhere, in cities all over the U.S., as well as Sydney, Australia, Toronto, Canada and London, England.

As you might imagine, I’ve learned a lot along the way.
The best thing about being in a one-man show, particularly one that you have also written, is that you can make ceaseless changes and updates, which with luck are improvements. I haven’t felt the need to ask anyone’s permission, and every show was a learning experience for me, as all live theatre is.

I owe a lot to my friend and director, Tait Ruppert, who has made many invaluable suggestions along the way and knows the show backwards and forwards.

It has also been rewarding to listen first hand to what people have to say about the show, which is always gratifying, particularly when it had some special resonance for them.

One woman thanked me very warmly for directing her attention to the fact that one can always draw forth in memory the sound of a loved one’s laughter; she had recently lost her mother and found a lot of relief by doing that.

Others have remarked that they had no knowledge of particular actors that now they felt interested to seek out in films and enjoy first hand. That’s cool.

Quite a lot of people remark that they think it it entertaining to observe the transitions I go through to rapidly become another person… this seems to be one of the favorite parts of the performance, and that has made me think about what it is that people find so fascinating about this style of entertainment.

I think there is something very helpful to audiences, even perhaps mildly therapeutic, with watching someone adopt different personas and identities. Of course, it’s a sort of magic trick, but it also speaks to a basic ability that anybody has, however un-exercised, to BE someone else on one’s own whim.

It’s akin to watching a dancer and realizing that one has the same physical parts, and that expressing oneself with arms, legs, hands and feet, instead of just thru the voice or the keyboard, is an unexploited possibility.

Of course, actors know how satisfying and pleasant it can be to shuffle off our own personalities and become someone great or stylish or interesting… in many cases it’s that sensation that got us interested in acting in the first place.

In the case of impersonating celebrities, our desires for a better, more fulfilling life come into play I think, in that these individuals symbolize not only the characters they portray, but also, as movie stars or leaders in some walk of life, they come to represent an advance into a state that is closer to immortality. If somebody can BE a movie star, even only for a few seconds, that person seemingly is sipping from some fountain that a lot of us wish we could drink deeply from.

I realize of course that I’m speaking in a very formal way about something which, after all, owes more to the Las Vegas Strip than the Veda, but still…

It just amazes me, having done this kind of entertaining now on and off for almost thirty years, that people are dazzled by the art of impersonation as much as they are.

But then, I’m being hypocritical, too, because I am equally dazzled by brilliant impressionists when I see them. And I’m lucky to know quite a few that are much more talented than I.

But as JIMPRESSIONS is about MY journey, I guess nobody would be able to do a better job of this particular angle of the story as I can, even if some of my renditions leave something to be desired.

Anyway, that’s all very sober and psuedo-academic, but the point is, it’s been a year, I have had a blast doing JIMPRESSIONS, and, as people seem to enjoy watching me doing my “Infinity of Celebrity Voices,… I have no intention of stopping.

See you at a performace soon, I hope!

If you are interested in the DVD of my live JIMPRESSIONS show at the historic Capitol Theatre in Clearwater, Florida, visit this site: http://appliedsilliness.com/jimpressionsdvd.html

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT IMPRESSIONS, ANYWAY?

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I always think that folks get interested in someone performing celebrity impressions because the whole issue of personal identity is such a hot “button” for people.

“Who the Hell AM I?” is a question most of us has asked ourselves many times.  Sometimes we think we have the answer, only to wind up asking it again later.  Or, we are going along in life just fine and somebody else asks who the Hell we are, or THINK we are, anyway?  And for a second there, we aren’t 100% sure.

Which can be frustrating.

So, seeing someone who can act like other people, on PURPOSE, and then crawl back in under their own skin is the sort of magic trick that can really attract attention, especially when so many of us are only vaguely familiar with who we ourselves actually are.

Or are all TOO familiar with who we are, and wish we could snap OUR fingers and become somebody else.

I like to think that it is actually kind of therapeutic for audiences to watch a performance in which identities are taken on and discarded, such as in my show or those of other impressionist’s, because it at least demonstrates the POTENTIAL of being in complete control of one’s own identity.  I think that’s good for people to see.

Better than Beckett, anyway, as far as uplifting, life-affirming entertainment is concerned.

Although if you did “Waiting for Godot” with a lot of celebrity impressions…

Nah.

There are about three more performances scheduled of JIMPRESSIONS, my hilarious one-man impressions show at The Acting Center in Hollywood, Friday March 16, and Friday & Saturday March 23 & 24, at 8 p.m. sharp.

I don’t have any future performances scheduled, as yet, as I am going to be doing some out of town gigs and other work soon.

SO, If YOU are feeling at all uncertain about your identity (and a quick glance at your drivers license isn’t helping any) come to my show; or, conversely, if the issue of YOUR identity is TOTALLY resolved and filed away safely to your own satisfaction, come to JIMPRESSIONS and drag along someone less stably grounded than yourself.

The worst that can happen is that one of you walks out of the theatre thinking they are Christopher Walken.  And these days, that can happen to anybody.

For tickets and reservations, go to: http://www.theactingcenterla.com/jimpressions.

Published in: on March 15, 2012 at 6:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Celebrity Shakespeare Challenge!

In an attempt to engage you, my audience of friends, sympathizers and co-conspirators, I recently made a video of me reciting a famous Shakespeare speech in the style of nine of the angriest actors I could think of (and imitate) and offer the following challenge:

Visit my YouTube channel, watch the video, and enter your guesses as comments on the YouTube page as to the nine identities I’m attempting to portray. Get those correct (or a majority, if this turns out to be an impossible task) plus the bonus question (WHICH character from Shakespeare, plus Act and Scene of which play) and you will win a FREE copy of the JIMPRESSIONS live show on DVD!

It’s a win-win! Hear Shakespeare! Play a game! Possibly, win a DVD with almost two hours of hilarious impressions, music and improvisation… and it costs you nothing but your spare moments of attention.

Play now, why don’t you- and help me spread the word.
http://www.youtube.com/jimmeskimen

Good luck, fellow Shakespeare lovers!

200 Voices Silenced: The passing of Steve Bridges, 1963 – 2012

Last week, the sad news that impressionist and friend Steve Bridges passed away at the age of 48. He had recently flown home from China, and was complaining of extreme jet lag, but it is as yet unknown why he collapsed.

I met Steve about ten years ago on a pilot for a show featuring impressionists called “Headlines”, and at that time I recognized him to be an excellent mimic and improvisor/comedian. I owe my present Tom Brokaw impression in part to him, since his own version of the news anchor’s mushy delivery was so amusing to me that I began to focus on it myself.

I last ran into Steve at The Tonight Show a couple of years back, where I was doing some voiceover of some celebrity while he was appearing, in full makeup, (by the talented Kevin Haney) as President G.W. Bush. His dedication to the presidential characters he did involved the costly and time-consuming steps of having top makeup artists create prosthetics and wigs that he would have to have applied before each appearance. He managed to develop that into a very lucrative business and travelled the world performing Bush, Obama, Clinton and others.

He told me at that time, which must have been early in 2009, that he was next going to tackle Obama, in full makeup, as he had done so successfully with G. W. Bush.  Inside, I have to admit, I winced.  I didn’t see how he was going to pull that off.  But, as I was to discover, he pulled it off better than anyone else.

Contributing to that successful rendition was the brilliant makeup artist and sculptor Kazuhiro Tzuji, with whom I had the pleasure to work with at Rick Baker’s studio for The Grinch.

Although he specialized in presidents, Steve Bridges also had a large collection of celebrity voices in his bag of tricks, some 200 or so, which is a LOT. I never got to spend as much time as I wanted to with Steve, but he was always very friendly and charitable to me, and I am disappointed that we won’t have an opportunity to collaborate again… any time soon. I’m a great believer in the “Unvanquishability” of the human spirit, so I would not say that he is lost to us forever, and I look forward to enjoying his talents again. In the meantime, there are many terrific performances of Steve on his YouTube Channel that I highly recommend you check out and enjoy.

200 Voices Silenced: The passing of Steve Bridges, 1963 – 2012

Last week, the sad news that impressionist and friend Steve Bridges passed away at the age of 48. He had recently flown home from China, and was complaining of extreme jet lag, but it is as yet unknown why he collapsed.

I met Steve about ten years ago on a pilot for a show featuring impressionists called “Headlines”, and at that time I recognized him to be an excellent mimic and improvisor/comedian. I owe my present Tom Brokaw impression in part to him, since his own version of the news anchor’s mushy delivery was so amusing to me that I began to focus on it myself.

I last ran into Steve at The Tonight Show a couple of years back, where I was doing some voiceover of some celebrity while he was appearing, in full makeup, (by the talented Kevin Haney) as President G.W. Bush. His dedication to the presidential characters he did involved the costly and time-consuming steps of having top makeup artists create prosthetics and wigs that he would have to have applied before each appearance. He managed to develop that into a very lucrative business and travelled the world performing Bush, Obama, Clinton and others.

He told me at that time, which must have been early in 2009, that he was next going to tackle Obama, in full makeup, as he had done so successfully with G. W. Bush.  Inside, I have to admit, I winced.  I didn’t see how he was going to pull that off.  But, as I was to discover, he pulled it off better than anyone else.

Contributing to that successful rendition was the brilliant makeup artist and sculptor Kazuhiro Tzuji, with whom I had the pleasure to work with at Rick Baker’s studio for The Grinch.

Although he specialized in presidents, Steve Bridges also had a large collection of celebrity voices in his bag of tricks, some 200 or so, which is a LOT. I never got to spend as much time as I wanted to with Steve, but he was always very friendly and charitable to me, and I am disappointed that we won’t have an opportunity to collaborate again… any time soon. I’m a great believer in the “Unvanquishability” of the human spirit, so I would not say that he is lost to us forever, and I look forward to enjoying his talents again. In the meantime, there are many terrific performances of Steve on his YouTube Channel that I highly recommend you check out and enjoy.

Published in: on March 12, 2012 at 11:12 am  Leave a Comment  

200 Voices Silenced: The passing of Steve Bridges, 1963 – 2012

Last week, the sad news that impressionist and friend Steve Bridges passed away at the age of 48. He had recently flown home from China, and was complaining of extreme jet lag, but it is as yet unknown why he collapsed.

I met Steve about ten years ago on a pilot for a show featuring impressionists called “Headlines”, and at that time I recognized him to be an excellent mimic and improvisor/comedian. I owe my present Tom Brokaw impression in part to him, since his own version of the news anchor’s mushy delivery was so amusing to me that I began to focus on it myself.

Image

I last ran into Steve at The Tonight Show a couple of years back, where I was doing some voiceover of some celebrity while he was appearing, in full makeup, (by the talented Kevin Haney) as President G.W. Bush. His dedication to the presidential characters he did involved the costly and time-consuming steps of having top makeup artists create prosthetics and wigs that he would have to have applied before each appearance. He managed to develop that into a very lucrative business and travelled the world performing Bush, Obama, Clinton and others.

He told me at that time, which must have been early in 2009, that he was next going to tackle Obama, in full makeup, as he had done so successfully with G. W. Bush.  Inside, I have to admit, I winced.  I didn’t see how he was going to pull that off.  But, as I was to discover, he pulled it off better than anyone else. 

Contributing to that successful rendition was the brilliant makeup artist and sculptor Kazuhiro Tzuji, with whom I had the pleasure to work with at Rick Baker’s studio for The Grinch.

Although he specialized in presidents, Steve Bridges also had a large collection of celebrity voices in his bag of tricks, some 200 or so, which is a LOT. I never got to spend as much time as I wanted to with Steve, but he was always very friendly and charitable to me, and I am disappointed that we won’t have an opportunity to collaborate again… any time soon. I’m a great believer in the “Unvanquishability” of the human spirit, so I would not say that he is lost to us forever, and I look forward to enjoying his talents again. In the meantime, there are many terrific performances of Steve on his YouTube Channel that I highly recommend you check out and enjoy.