Top 10 Talk Show Impressions Done in Front of the Actual Person

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Top 10 Talk Show Impressions Done in Front of the Actual Person

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: David Foster
Impressions are always funnier when done in front of the actual person on talk shows. Our countdown includes "Inside the NBA," "The Drew Barrymore Show," "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," and more!
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Top 10 Impressions Done in Front of the Actual Person on Talk Shows


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 impressions done in front of the actual person on talk shows.

For this list, we’ll see if a person thinks imitation is the highest form of flattery when they are right there seeing someone else imitate them. To perform an impression without the actual person there is one thing, but how both parties react when in contact is another!

Are these moments flattering or just plain flat? Sound off in the Comments.

#10: Chloe Fineman as Drew Barrymore
“The Drew Barrymore Show” (2020-)


Though many people raved about Jim Carrey’s impression of Joe Biden during the 46th season opener of SNL, the real show-stealer was relative newcomer Chloe Fineman’s pitch perfect spoof recreation of a “Drew Barrymore Show'' advertisement. Few were more impressed, however, than the focus of the parody, herself. About one week later, Drew “good sport” Barrymore invited Fineman into her “empty studio” and the impersonator got to meet the impersonatee. During the interview, they mentioned both being from Berkeley, California, how much they were fans of each other––and, towards the end, Chloe Fineman performed the outro as Drew Barrymore. If you had closed your eyes at that point, you wouldn’t have even noticed.

#9: Jon Culshaw as Frank Bruno
“The Chris Moyles Show” (2015-)


Jon Culshaw is a comedy impressionist from the UK who has a huge range of voices under his belt. Some would argue that he must also have a huge set of… fortitudes to lampoon some of the people he does. One such target of his impressions is former Boxing Champion Frank Bruno. You can see why Culshaw wanted to do an impression. First, Bruno has such a deep bass voice that seismographs react when he talks. Second, he’s such a fun personality to be around. In this case, Bruno pranks Culshaw during his impressions of him by calling into the show and pretending to be an impressionist himself. That said, Bruno can’t keep it up long and his signature laugh is heard… twice.

#8: Danny Rouhier as Charles Barkley
“Inside the NBA” (1989-)


Host Charles Barkley makes “Inside the NBA” so entertaining that you don’t have to be a basketball fan to enjoy the show. The presenter is known for his somewhat hyperbolic style, and his ability to make fun of pretty much everyone. NBA legends consider the former player to be one of the greatest of all time––not just as an opponent and teammate, but as a pundit too. This style leaves him open to roasts of his own, and none better came in the form of impressionist Danny Rouhier. During quarantine, the radio DJ and comedian posted a plethora of impersonations, with Chuck being his best. It was the reason why he was invited to interview the real life version, eliciting constant laughter from Barkley.

#7: Jay Pharoah as Jamie Foxx (et al)
“The Ellen DeGeneres Show” (2003-)


If you haven’t heard of Jay Pharoah by now, then stop everything and check him out. Done? Great, isn’t he? Yeah, we also loved the Will Smith vs Denzel Washington one. In fact, it’s reported that Denzel does too––and very much so. Being a friend of Pharoah must involve constant impressions of people you know, and the people you are––particularly if you are Jamie Foxx. Foxx is not a bad impressionist himself, but when Foxx met Pharoah via “SNL” in 2012, he knew he had met a friend for life. Pharoah’s Foxx impression is so good, Jamie cast him in his series ‘White Famous’ and hangs around with him to hear impressions all night. He also has the laugh spot on.

#6: Jon Culshaw as Ricky Gervais as David Brent
“BBC Radio 5 Live’s Mid-Afternoon Show with Richard Bacon” (2010-14)


Of course, this wouldn’t be an impression list without Jon Culshaw appearing more than once. This time is also from a radio show, with his subject sitting next to him. However, on this occasion we might be bending the rules slightly––either that or the intended target of impersonation was perhaps not overly thrilled at how good Culshaw is at picking out the idiosyncrasies. When asked to perform as Ricky Gervais, (or rather, when he offered) Culshaw launches into a very good few lines. Of course, Gervais believes it’s more David Brent than Ricky, but then admits that could be a defense of his ego… yeah… could be...

#5: Oprah Winfrey as Reese Witherspoon
“The Late Late Show with James Corden” (2015-)


We know Oprah Winfrey is accomplished at pretty much everything. She’s an established actress, author, talk show host… the woman can do it all, and well! But did you know that she was an impressionist as well? Nope, few did––including Reese Witherspoon and James Corden. During the publicity tour for “A Wrinkle in Time,” Oprah pulled out a pretty bang-on impression of her co-star’s proactive attitude to everything, including the actress’ southern drawl, to full effect. It may not be the best sounding facsimile of Witherspoon’s voice y’all, but the surprise of it and the accuracy of her cadence takes center-stage here.

#4: Seth MacFarlane (as Stewie & Peter Griffin) as Cyndi Lauper
“The Graham Norton Show” (2007-)


Ok, so we’re bending the rules again––slightly. This isn’t so much an impression by Seth MacFarlane (a man who is really quite proficient at emulating other’s voices). Rather, this is him performing as a character who is doing an impression of a song in front of the original artist. Still with us? Good. Ok, the rule is so out of shape now that it’s at breaking point, but there’s no way we couldn’t include this gem of the “Family Guy” creator singing Cyndi Lauper’s greatest hits as both Stewie and Peter Griffin. There’s a lot of liberties taken, and yet it pays so much homage to the original. Always busting out voices on “The Graham Norton Show,” MacFarlane cracks up not just the audience, but Lauper too!

#3: Kate McKinnon as Ellen DeGeneres
“The Ellen DeGeneres Show” (2003-)


Since 2012, Kate McKinnon has been a powerhouse of comedy impersonations, lighting up our TV screens every Saturday as part of the SNL crew. Like many who came before her, including some on this list, her ability to hone in on a person’s traits and replicate them have led to some incredible moments for all. Her segments as Ellen DeGeneres are very much proof of that, during which the longest female “Saturday Night Live” performer has the talk show host down to the tiniest nuance. For her pitch-perfect impersonation, DeGeneres even doubled up on her opening monologue in February 2016, and the audience were treated to two performers sharing the stage, and the dance, to kick off the show.

#2: All of the Guests as Arnold Schwarzenegger
“The Graham Norton Show” (2007-)


Someone like Humphrey Bogart may hold the record for uttering the most catchphrases in film history, but is anyone more imitable or quotable than Arnold Schwarzenegger? The answer is no. Just… no. I mean, every comedian has attempted to emulate the Austrian giant’s unique voice. And he loves it, as he showed during an episode of Graham Norton when he challenged all of the other guests to deliver an iconic movie quote in his voice. Cara Delevingne’s was ok, Emilia Clarke’s was decent… but when he got to Jake Gyllenhaal, business picked up. Instead of the T-800, he went for Mr. Kimble’s lesser-known “There is no Bat’room!” before Tiny Tempah followed suit. They were pretty good too! Hopefully, he’ll be back… ahem...

#1: Tom Hiddleston as Robert De Niro (& Al Pacino)
“The Graham Norton Show” (2007-)


Man of many talents, Tom Hiddleston is also a man of many voices, although few of them are his own. His incredibly succinct impersonations have been covered multiple times before, and he never runs out of excuses to perform them. However, it isn’t that often that he gets to meet his heroes and emulate them, too. We are of course talking about his appearance on “The Graham Norton Show” when Hiddleston impersonated… Graham Norton. Ok, he did also do that––but we’re really referring to Tom Hiddleston’s immaculate recreation of the “Heat” diner scene before a very impressed Robert De Niro. Going into complete fan-mode, Hiddleston manages to perform most of the scene as both actors from the original. Sans script, and “De Niro approved.”
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