Impressive, Most Impressive

Last year, I set a goal to be able to do ten amusing impressions.

I was inspired by watching clips of Melissa Villaseñor, an actress on Saturday Night Live who does incredible impressions.

Villaseñor says she does impressions of people for two reasons. She chooses people or characters that make her “feel happy and warm” or make her “feel happy and stronger, people I look up to… they come from a place of pure love.”

After watching an unreasonable number of videos featuring impressions from Melissa and others, I decided to try doing impressions myself.

At first it was a slog, and my impressions weren’t that great. But it wasn’t impossible, and I found myself having quite a bit of fun!

The quality wasn’t so important to me. The most important thing to me was that the impressions had to make me laugh. On top of that, I tried to be able to say things in character that they wouldn’t be likely to actually say, just because it made the impressions funnier and more versatile.

Here are the impressions I learned to do:

  1. Goenka-ji
  2. Homestar Runner
  3. Milton Waddams
  4. Bill Lumbergh
  5. The Godfather
  6. Mickey Mouse
  7. Batman
  8. Owen Wilson
  9. Rex of Rex Kwan Do (from Napoleon Dynamite)
  10. David Attenborough (Audio)

I found that the more impressions I could do, the easier it was to learn new impressions. I’ve actually learned a couple of impressions since completing my goal that aren’t in this list. It also got easier to do impressions of people in my life, people who you may or may not recognize. Moreover, I became more attuned to the wide variety of vocal characteristics and facial expressions that people have.

I also learned being able to do impressions can come in handy. When I taught at OAK, our California branch, in the summer of 2020, I found myself doing impressions in my talks, not merely to make myself or others laugh, but as a way to get my point across.

As I’d hoped, this whole process was really fun for me. While the lessons and insights were a nice side effect, I was grateful to be doing something so fun, for the sole purpose of sheer enjoyment. Wow!

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