If you want to imitate famous people, remember to emulate their gestures, quirks, and facial expressions, as well as their voices or accents. By learning to recognize good candidates for your knockoffs and developing a simple practice routine, you'll be making your friends laugh in no time.
Part 1 of 3: Choosing an imitation
Step 1. Pick someone you know a lot
It is more difficult to do an imitation of someone that you do not know much or that you have not seen in more than one role. Pick someone whose movies or songs you've seen or listened to many times. To learn more about someone, watch them in different roles, listen to a wide variety of their music, watch interviews they have done, and read everything you can about them.
Step 2. Pick a celebrity with a distinctive voice or accent
It is much easier to do an accurate imitation of someone with an instantly recognizable manner of speaking. While physical appearance is also important, a good vocal imitation is what will ensure the success or failure of the imitation.
Step 3. Choose an imitation that matches your physical characteristics
To make a convincing impression, it helps to choose someone with whom you have a physical resemblance. Frank Caliendo makes a great John Madden impression because they both share the same robust and jovial appearance.
On the other hand, it can be a lot of fun to perfect an impression of a celebrity that is completely different from you physically. For example, a short girl doing a convincing Chris Farley impression can be hilarious
Step 4. Think from the "point of view" of the celebrity
The goal of the copycat is not to create a perfect image of the celebrity, but to capture the "essence" of that character. Watch movies, shows, and especially interviews with your chosen celebrity and take note of their emotions, speech patterns, facial expressions, gestures, and perception of the world.
Sarah Palin is known for presenting a "folk" image of herself. Let that vibe creep into your performance
Part 2 of 3: Study the quirks and way of speaking
Step 1. Make a list of all the characteristics of the celebrity
When you look at and hear the person you want to imitate, create a list of quotes, gestures, quirks, and facial expressions they make. Use many adjectives on this list. Here, you will already be creating the imitation, describing the person in words and expressing their presence in your own voice. Use this list to slowly start working on your imitation.
For example, notice how Brad Pitt is always eating and drinking in his movies, Nene Leakes is constantly stroking his extensions, and Elvis Presley twitches his upper lip
Step 2. Imitate the unique traits of the celebrity
Squinting eyes and poor pronunciations of George W. Bush are essential to a good impression of him, just as an impression of Shatner must involve strange pauses. A good imitation is made up of physical and vocal components that combine to give us an image of that celebrity. You start by honing those unique traits and building the imitation from there.
Step 3. Quote the celebrity's phrases
Often times, a celebrity will have a quote or quote from a particular movie to start with. A good Al Pacino accent would be incomplete without the phrase "say hello to my little friend" from the movie Cut Face. Even if you can't physically imitate Pacino, it's a good step to start working with that single phrase.
Step 4. Notice the sound of the voice
Voices can be nasal, meaning high-pitched and whiny, or they can come from the diaphragm, meaning they are deeper and softer. Looking at the way the person speaks can help you find their voice. Practice speaking from different "places" (such as the voice in your head, which is higher, or the voice in your chest, which is lower) to get an idea of the range of your own voice.
- Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson's voice comes from the throat and is a little guttural.
- Fran Drescher's voice is high-pitched and nasal.
Step 5. Take into account the speed of speech
Some people speak very fast, while others seem to lengthen their pronunciation a bit more. See if your chosen celebrity's speech is rushed, relaxed, or somewhere in between.
For example, Robert Downey Jr. often talks very fast
Step 6. Practice the accents
If you want to do a Christopher Walken impression, it will help to be able to do a solid New York accent before trying. If you want to do a Julia Child impression, practice your British accent.
When you become familiar with general accents, work on making them more specific. Within the world of British accents, South African, Australian, Welsh, and Scottish accents are all very different and unique. Studying accents will help you narrow down the celebrity's specific speech patterns that you want to imitate
Step 7. Work on only one physical and vocal characteristic at a time
It can be very difficult trying to capture all the quirks that make up a celebrity in one go. But since it is a combination of physical and vocal features, it is convenient to try to do them together.
- It starts with, say, Al Pacino's scream and the angry look he makes.
- On the other hand, adopt the crooked smile that Drew Barrymore has and work on recreating the way she speaks from the side of her mouth.
Part 3 of 3: Practice Imitation
Step 1. Record your imitation
The voice you have in your mind sounds different from the voice other people hear. To get a good idea of how you sound while doing an imitation, record it on your phone and play it back so you know how you are progressing.
Step 2. Practice in front of the mirror
Jim Carrey practiced many hours a day in front of the mirror. Use a mirror to see how you look doing an imitation and adjust your facial expressions based on whether or not you are exaggerating.
If you want to do a Victoria Beckham impression, you will want to make sure that you don't show too much emotion in your facial expressions. Practice speaking with a classy British accent in front of the mirror and focus on looking bored and upset
Step 3. Read a book or magazine out loud
Finding something to say with a certain voice can be difficult. To get a lot of sentences, just read something using the voice you are working on. Vary the rhythm and emotion behind the phrases as you read to practice the different ranges of the voice you are trying to imitate.
This will also help you figure out which words or phrases work well in that voice and which ones don't. In this way, you can start to achieve a better imitation
Step 4. Repeat what you hear on the radio
As you drive, turn on the radio and repeat what is said or sung using the voice you are practicing. This is very useful in the case of imitations of singers. Making a Britney Spears song with a Jim Morrison voice will also be fun to share with your friends.
Step 5. Keep practicing
As with a musical instrument, you need to practice to maintain a good imitation. Don't let your Shatner knockoff fade away. Even after you think you've gotten a good impression, redo it every now and then to keep it up to date. Consider adding more dimensions to the knockoff. Will Ferrell's impersonation of President Bush grew in complexity over the many years that he carried it out.
- If a person's voice is out of your range, don't try and find someone else to imitate. If you strain your voice to achieve the perfect range, you run the risk of permanently damaging your vocal cords.
- Try to identify which sentence or phrase the person you want to imitate always says, then memorize it and use it. It can be useful to improve the quality of your imitations.
- Choose knockoffs that are instantly recognizable if you're just getting started.
- Try to visualize yourself as the person you are trying to imitate. This will make you subconsciously show the subtle gestures and quirks that the person in question exhibits.
- If you don't have the right voice to do the impersonations, you can copy the body language of the person you want to imitate, which will help you with the end result.