Who Loves Impressions? Americans and Australians

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Celeb Impressionist and YouTube Viral Sensation Jim Meskimen finds his audience in both hemispheres.

When actor/impressionist Jim Meskimen put up a YouTube video of himself reciting a speech from Shakespeare's Richard III in July, he didn't expect it to become a web sensation; he was just trying to promote his one man show to a broader audience. Currently, it has over 700K views.

And when his follow-up to Shakespeare Impressions, Celebrity Alphabet hit two weeks ago, he didn’t expect it to go viral... in Australia.

With the majority of the viral traffic coming from “down under”, Meskimen has tapped into a whole new “Aussie-ence”, which comes conveniently at the same time as a trip to Sydney next month, where Jim will appear on the Australian version of The Today Show, in between corporate gigs.

Meskimen wraps up his season of live JIMPRESSIONS shows in Hollywood on the 4th & 5th of November at The Acting Center, where his one-man presentation of 75 celebrity voices, with a journey through the actor’s unusual career, has been met with acclaim and sold out houses.

Gather.com said, “Not since Rich Little has there been such a talented and hilarious impressionist”, and Entertainment Weekly.com concurred, calling Meskimen “one side-splitting, hyper-observant impersonator.”

Calling himself the "Man of an Infinity of Voices", Meskimen has been performing impressions for years on television, for Parks & Recreation, Whose Line is It, Anyway? and most recently for the comedy Community, and on animated projects including one of the quintessential viral videos of 2004, Jibjab.com's This Land, which lampooned then president George W. Bush and John Kerry, among others (Meskimen did all the voices, including Bill Clinton's forlorn "Whud ah DO?")

His latest stage show, JIMPRESSIONS, takes a retro, 70's look at the art of celebrity impressions, and features over 75 different well known celebrity voices, some in song, like Frank Sinatra, who Meskimen presents singing a medley from the Beatle's rarely covered (and with good reason) White Album.

What is it about impressions that captures the imaginations of audiences worldwide?

"I don't really know," says Meskimen, who is the real life son of actress Marion Ross of Happy Days and Brooklyn Bridge fame, "but when my Shakespeare Impressions went viral, it became very clear that a LOT of people are really attracted to seeing someone change before their eyes into someone else. I guess it's a kind of fundamental amazement at changing identity. I’m a sucker for it, too! I loved the old school impressionists like Rich Little and Frank Gorshin who were on TV when I was a kid."

He followed up the popular Shakespeare video (did we mention he also imitates Ricky Gervais and Ron Howard?) with Celebrity Alphabet, a salute, in alphabetical order, to 26 other celebrities, in rhyming couplets, again, performed all in one take.

Tommy Lee Jones fans, or fans of Jim's version of Tommy Lee Jones, may enjoy his tribute to The Fugitive star in Tommy Lee Jones Recites Hamlet, also on Jim's YouTube channel.

On the strength of his YouTube success, Meskimen brought his show to audiences in England, Canada, Chicago and Tampa, and heads down to Australia in November. "The Aussies have really been passing my latest video around a lot" said Meskimen.

Any other plans for his Jimpressions?

"Maybe a kind of American Idol for impressionists... there's clearly an audience for it."

See JIMPRESSIONS Friday November 4 & Saturday November 5 at The Acting Center, 5514 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood CA 90028. Tickets and info at http://www.theactingcenterla.com/on-the-stage-2/

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Roland Portugal
meskimen@appliedsilliness.com
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