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Old 04/09/2005, 3:24 PM
AbsolutelyOprah Male AbsolutelyOprah is offline
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Default Recurring Characters vs. Impressions

Hey all,

Big time lurker here, though I've popped in chat a few times.

Something that's been bothering me a bit in this fandom is the distinction of 'recurring character' versus 'celebrity impression,' and how so many people are sticklers about it. I realize that people do get picky about their favorite things, and that's not necessarily bad, but I just find the generally accepted distinction erroneous.

Because a character is an impression shouldn't rule them out of the 'recurring character' title automatically. There have been several (if not dozens) of impressions that broke out of the general 'impression' category.

Let's look at Debra's Oprah (completely forgot my own username on this board for a second, I swear). Yes, it started out as an impression. Oprah has a show, Debra's Oprah has a show. Oprah has these quirky, condecending mannerisms, Debra's Oprah has the same quirky, condescending mannerisms. Debra's Oprah is a bloodthirsty demi-god who hits people with baseball bats, Oprah--oh, wait. IMO, once you get past the generalities of a strict impression, and start getting into the absurdities of a regular recurring sketch, the 'impression' name is really meaningless.

Look at Will's Kenny Rogers. The real Kenny Rogers doesn't do a tenth of the crazy **** that Will's 'impression' would have you believe--frankly I don't even understand where in God's name Will was going with the character, given most of the later sketches. Does a Kenny Rogers who's so desperate to remain edgy and sensational that he takes on his own versions of "Jackass," "Punk'd" and "The Apprentice" have anything to do with the country singer that Will started out impersonating? Don't get me wrong, I loved those sketches, but Will's 'impression' of Kenny Rogers ended in maybe his first appearance. The shell of an impression that remained was a recurring character that did some funny, funny **** and still happened to have the name Kenny Rogers.

On the other side, think of recurring characters who were obviously based on real people--do those count as impressions? Does Ms. Swan count as a Bjork impression, counting out Alex' other actual Bjork role?

Impressions shouldn't really be cornerstones for a player, and they I]can't[/I]. That's a big part of why people like Pat Kilbane, Chris Hogan, Andy Daly and Christian Duguay never really made it--they had some really decent impressions, but turing those into recurring characters was impossible. Pat made a flawless Howard Stern, but never took enough creative license to make it a real 'character'--his appearances were always in the general guise of stuff that the 'real' stern would conceivably do. Howard Stern appearing on a show like "Talkin' American" isn't as far-fetched as something like Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown taking over "American Idol" or being recruited for a generic soda ad.

I think that maybe after a second or third appearance, or after breaking out of its original premise, an impression becomes a recurring character. Look at Mary Scheer's Gillian Anderson/Scully. She played it in a few sketches, but never went anywhere with it outside of X-Files spoofs.

There might be something to this regarding which impressions a player comes to the show with, but I don't know enough about players' histories to venture at a guess like that.

Clerk (Mo): It's 2.75. TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT!

Swan: Okay, okay, I take it. ...I'll take it like a man!
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Old 04/10/2005, 7:35 AM
flicker Female flicker is offline
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AbsolutleyOprah, I've seen a couple of your posts and mostly want to say that I really enjoy reading them.

I'm such a newbie, I don't know much about the fandom. I didn't know that people seemed to make a distinction between recurring characters and celeb impressions. It hadn't occurred to me to think of them differently, or that it would matter in any way. I'm still delighted by almost everything that I see on MadTV, old and new. I've not distilled much into categories yet.

I'm with you on one thing: I can't even begin to imagine where Will Sasso got his Kenny Rogers. Don't get me wrong, I love him to death -- Kenny on Jackass, and Kenny on Punk'd? I almost pee'd myself laughing! But is he like Kenny Rogers? Not that I can tell! That one blurs the line between impression and recurring character for sure.

OT: I'd love to hear your thoughts on why the fanbase for this show skews so young. That's for another thread I guess.
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View Post Old 04/10/2005, 2:03 PM
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Old 04/10/2005, 5:58 PM
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Dartanian Male Dartanian is offline
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I generally hate the impressions that are spun into recurring characters. John Madden and Connie Chung in the current seasons, and Kenny Rogers and Oprah earlier are my main peeves. The Oprah and John Madden impressions are both very good, and the Connie Chung impression was funny in season 8, but constantly turning out impression sketches just seems like, to me, the actors have no other characters to play, so they caricaturise an impression and beat it to death. The Kenny Rogers impression is beyond stupid. I liked it initially, but I cringe every time I see a sketch featuring him now.

The reason I personally treat characters and impressions as two very distinct categories is because I work on the guides in this forum. Do you know hard it would be to seperate every impression into "generic" and "characterised"? I think that there is a very clear line between character and impression: If it is stated that Will is playing Kenny Rogers, then it's an impression, despite how he is portrayed. Something like Ms Swan may be "based" loosely on a person like Bjork, but that doesn't make it an impression to me.

I don't fully understand what you mean by "Impressions shouldn't really be cornerstones for a player, and they can't. That's a big part of why people like Pat Kilbane, Chris Hogan, Andy Daly and Christian Duguay never really made it." I thought Pat Kilbane was successful on the show despite not having an impression that was used in stupid situations. Still, I don't really understand what you mean so perhaps you could explain it for me.

I dunno. Maybe I missed the point of your post completely.

What happened to Andrae?
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