TV star impressionist Alistair McGowan will be performing a mix of stand-up and voice mimicry next week as part of Sheffield’s Last Laugh comedy festival.
The star of hit BBC show The Big Impression has become TV’s most recognisable impressionist with a career spanning more than two decades with a huge repertoire of impersonations. He does more than 100 voices and his most popular impersonations on The Big Impression included Posh and Becks with co-star Ronni Ancona, Prince Charles, Tony Blair, Angus Deayton and Gary Lineker.
That show won numerous awards including the BAFTA for best comedy in 2003. He first did impressions on TV in iconic satirical puppet showe Spitting Image.
However, as the title of Alistair’s new show underlines, he is Not Just a Pretty Voice but is also an accomplished stand-up comedian.
Alistair explained the thinking behind the title of the show, which comes to Sheffield City Hall next Thursday.
“As well as hearing the first-known impressions of Alan Shearer, Mickey Flanagan and Roger Federer, people will find out my views about a few things. You can’t just do voices – you have to have something behind that which says something about them – and about you.”
Alistair, who last summer wrote and presented ITV1’s topical sports-comedy show You Cannot Be Serious!, said he was excited about the tour.
“I think this is absolutely the best material I’ve ever done since I first ventured into a stand-up club some 24 years ago.”
Not Just a Pretty Voice asks the big questions like, would the world be a better place if Doncaster MP and Labour leader Ed Miliband was Prime Minister? Is Hillary Devey Jesse J’s mum? And what is really going through our minds when we’re watching Shakespeare?
Be prepared to hear everyone from Andy Murray to Colin Murray, routines on everything from Jeff Stelling to bad spelling and at least one song about butter.
Audiences seem to adore impersonations. Alistair explains why: “If people laugh at an impression, it simply shows they’ve noticed something about a celebrity, but have never put it into words. But people like seeing that change.
“Audiences always appreciate the skill, the virtuosity, but it still has to be backed up with good material if it’s not just going to be showing off.
“For instance, I have been trying to impersonate the MP, Diane Abbott, because I noticed she has a very unusual way of talking. But I can’t find the right routine for her yet.
“When I do, I will be childishly thrilled and she will be in the act!”
Alistair said that he is constantly searching for the similarities between voices: “If you listen to Tim Henman talking about tennis, he soon starts to sound like Jack Dee.
“Jo Brand is very similar to Sarah Beeney and Gary Barlow is a whisker away from Dave from The Royal Family – as is Gary Neville.
“I‘m still working on a really long ‘chain’ of several voices. I hope I have that ready soon!”
He won’t be using any gimmickry on this tour. “I’ve never been wowed by technology. It’s just me and a microphone.
“There are no sets, no props, no projections. It’s all about trying to create different energies through one voice.
“I hope that by the end of the evening the audience really feel that they have been in the presence of 90-odd, well-known characters and not just in the presence of a 48-year-old balding man from Worcestershire.”
Box office: 0114 278 9789 or go to http://www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk/