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October 6, 2015

The Year in Celebrity Impressions

by Jane Murphy, posted Dec 30th 2010 10:30AM
Anne HathawayWho doesn't love a good celebrity impression -- and who doesn't cringe at a bad one? In 2010, several impersonations went viral, generating chuckles and awe. We had comedians' impressions getting healthy screen time, like Kevin Pollak, Jimmy Fallon, and the up-and-coming Jay Pharoah. And we also had actors busting out take-offs on fellow thespians -- yes, Anne Hathaway's savage rendering of Katie Holmes on 'Saturday Night Live' is on this list. It was a truly a vintage year for people being other people.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. You can tell Jay Pharoah has great affection for the greats he mimics, like Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy. On the other hand, this year's rash of Jay Leno impressions were polished with bile.

Anne Hathaway as Katie Holmes. Who could upstage the hilarious 'SNL' newbie Vanessa Bayer and her braying Miley Cyrus? No less than Anne Hathaway, unleashing a fidgety impression of Katie Holmes. It was the standout of Hathaway's November 'SNL' appearance, and Hathaway later claimed to The Hollywood Reporter it was not so much a rendering of Holmes as Katie's 'Dawson's Creek' persona.

Jimmy Kimmel as Jay Leno. 2010 began with the Feel Good story of the New Orleans Saints' Super Bowl win, and the Feel Screwed story of Conan vs. Jay. Perhaps Jay's most vocal detractor was ABC late night entrant Jimmy Kimmel, who actually opened a January 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' with a takedown of the two-term 'Tonight Show' host. Kimmel doesn't really bother with a vocal approximation of Leno, instead letting a prosthetic chin do most of the work.

David Letterman as Jay Leno. The 'Late Night' host used to have Jay Leno regularly guest on his NBC show going back to Reagan Administration days. It's that familiarity with his longtime rival that makes Letterman's seemingly offhand Leno impersonation so biting.

Jimmy Fallon as Neil Young. Quick, who won 2010's 'American Idol?' Perhaps champ Lee DeWyze's album would have fared better if he covered the breakout hit of season nine, 'Pants on the Ground' by wannabe contestant General Larry Platt. Here we present someone with the good sense to embrace that tune -- ladies and gentlemen, Neil Young (as played by 'Late Night's Jimmy Fallon).

Matt Damon as Matthew McConaughey. David Letterman returns to the list, but not as the perpetrator of an impression. Does anything delight Dave more than when Matt Damon shares his peerless Matthew McConaughey with the world?

No! Not Kevin Pollak doing Christopher Walken again! Yes! From his 2010 Showtime special, Pollak (now of Fox's 'Million Dollar Money Drop') puts Christopher Walken in unexpected situations to comic effect. We will say this is not quite as funny as Pollak's astonishing Albert Brooks impression, which you can catch on the DVD of the ribald documentary 'The Aristocrats'.

Jon Hamm as Robin Williams, etc. For Jon Hamm's 2010 return to 'SNL' hosting, we were treated to the 'Back to the Future' screen test, which featured a bevy of impressions. Al Pacino appeared, courtesy of Bill Hader, and Hamm broke out of his Don Draper straitjacket big time with a manic Robin Williams.

Jon Stewart as George W. Bush. When we think of Jon Stewart, we think of a mind that's astute, a comic's comic presiding over 'The Daily Show' with a pitch-perfect delivery. Of course, that's all out the window when he tries to impersonate President George W. Bush. The laughs come from Stewart acknowledging it may be the worst presidential impression in history.

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What were your favorite celebrity impressions of the year?

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Kevin Spacey's impressions of Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Morgan Freeman are priceless. How come he is not on this list?

January 02 2011 at 5:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Don't forget Kenan Thompson's impression of legendary icon Reba on SNL, and then showing up at the 2010 CMT Awards as her! Hilarious!!!!!! She should totally host SNL!!!!!!!

January 02 2011 at 2:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Please, Please, stop all the advertizing, it's is most annoying!!! I LOVE Stephen King, always have and always will

January 02 2011 at 10:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Alfred Lewis doing Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn among others on his hysterical youtube videos...this guy is HYSTERICAL!!!!

January 02 2011 at 10:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I LMAO @ Tina Fey's (sp?) impression (in 2009) of Sarah Palin. To me, that is one of the best all-time favorites!

January 02 2011 at 9:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
michael Cooper

Gee John Stewart and David letterman on AOL! They wonder why i use yahoo for all business emails!

January 02 2011 at 9:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sorry I don't do impressions.

December 30 2010 at 12:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Peter Serafinowicz on Running Wilde did a great Alan Alda impression - though the character was unaware he was doing an Alan Alda impression at the time. It was the highlight of that show for me.

December 30 2010 at 11:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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