Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Miscellaneous: First Impressions

The New Yorker on Rich Little’s selection as the headliner at the upcoming White House Correspondents Dinner. The official line is that Little is not a safe choice in the wake of last year’s controversial Stephen Colbert appearance, but it’s clear that writer Jeffrey Goldberg ain’t buying it.

The piece seems a touch mean-spirited to me, but then Little doesn’t do himself any favors. When you’re asked to name your favorite young comedian, do not say “Robin Williams.” And never follow up your own jokes with the observation that they’re funny. Particularly when they’re not.

After reading the article, I then spent twenty minutes exploring Little’s website and listening to some of his 163 impressions. If he didn’t identify the person beforehand (always with the same phrase, “Well, this is ... INSERT NAME HERE”), I’m not sure I could tell you who he was doing. I doubt there’s much call for imitations of Edgar Buchanan, Jack Hawkins and Stewart Granger these days, but considering the age of some of the members of the Senate he’ll be performing in front of, his act will probably play like gangbusters. He may even get requests. (“And now, for Senator Robert Byrd, here’s ... Hugh Herbert!”) I will say that Little’s Rod Steiger is still damn good.

As for those naysayers who claimed that Colbert bombed last year: twelve months later people are still talking about his appearance. He must have done something right.