Everybody knows Christopher Walken, right? I mean, who. Doesn't. Remember. The stilted speech? The sporadic infle-e-ections. The somewhat vacant look, like his mind is always on vacation even though his body is here and of course – the piercing stare.
There’s no doubt that he’s a strange character. This comes out in every one of his roles including; The Deer Hunter (for which he won an Oscar), Catch Me If You Can (for which he was Oscar nominated) and let us not forget Pulp Fiction. To be honest, I've always held a certain fascination for the guy. Did you know he was trained in classical dance? I first noticed him (and some of you young 'uns may not remember this) in one of Fatboy Slim's videos, called 'Weapon “of Choice'. This was back in the early-to-mid nineties, soon after MTV came to India. Check it out, when you get a chance.
Then of course, were all his appearances on Saturday Night Live. Especially, the 'Cowbell' sketch, now of legendary status. There are literally tons of parodies paying homage to the original sketch (which, ironically, is itself a parody) on YouTube, even though the original was removed for copyright reasons. The sketch even has it's own Wikipedia page, for God's sake. Why it's become so famous is completely beyond me. Don't get me wrong, I think it's hilarious but ultimately, just another SNL sketch. If you live on Mars, here's your chance to see it now.
Anyhow, I digress. Getting back to Christopher Walken, the whole reason for this post – I was listening to a newly discovered podcast (called NPR Pop Culture – which I highly recommend, by the way) and they started talking about a show in LA called All About Walken. It consists of is eight actors impersonating Walken in various roles, both real and fictitious. For instance, they have one actor singing 'These Boots Are Made For Walken', Walken-style,others re-enact a scene from Annie Hall as well as some of his other famous film roles.
Right now, there are three women (Lily Holleman, Amy Kelly and Tara Price) and an Asian man (Kenzo Lee) along with a bunch of other people (Michael Bayouth, Patrick O'Sullivan, Brennan Vetter and Troy Vincent) who imitate Walken. From the NPR show, it seems at one time they even had a black guy and an Asian woman in the show. Each has their own interpretation of the Walken-style of speaking, and they each focus on different aspects of his speech. They played clips from the show on the podcast, and I have to say it was downright hilarious. The creator of the show – Patrick O'Sullivan – even gave a little tutorial on the three things you need to impersonate Walken's speech: (1) The stilted-ness; (2) the inflection and; (3) the rasp. The whole concept is so absurd that it's brilliant. It's almost a parody of the obsession that this country has for him. An obsession which has -rightly, I think- given him a secure seat in the court of pop culture royalty.
The show is only performed on Mondays because Patrick O'Sullivan is also a waiter, and that's his only day off. Some reviews of the show can be found here, here and here. The NPR podcast (originally from the Day to Day show) is here.
If you're in the LA area, you might want to check it out and leave a comment. I'd definitely like to hear your take on it.