By Bobbie Katz
Gordie Brown is the Lives of the Party
By Bobbie Katz
One look at Gordie Brown and it’s immediately apparent that he’s more than 100 people rolled into one.
While that might tend to make other folks, well, quite lumpy, with Brown it just makes him one very well-rounded guy. And there’s no need to be concerned about his obvious case of multiple personalities --, ultimately, it is those observing him that end up “cracking up.”
The right-on comedy impressionist who is the mainstay headliner at the Golden Nugget, has been treating people to his own special brand of voices in his head combined with humor at the property since February 23,2009. During the course of an evening, he will do more than 65 personas, from movie and TV personalities to politicians and singers. His personas include the likes of Nicholas Cage, Ray Romano, Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Joe Cocker, Tom Jones, Green Day, Maroon 5, and John Mayer, just to name a few.
Brown writes every piece he performs and parodies everyone, finding humor in everything to make it an entertaining piece.
“One move can turn a character into a whole personality thing,” he observes. “I’ll look at videos to get someone’s mannerisms. When I learn an impression, I start with what hits me most about that character. Once I get that down, it’s where can I go from here? For Joe Cocker, for example, it was his gravelly voice. For Gary Shandling, it was that face. It hurt at first to do his face but after two weeks, it became second nature. It’s amazing how your body and muscles can adapt and contort.”
“I have a sense memory of certain characters and my body just shifts into them,” he adds. ”I actually feel like the character I’m doing and not like Gordie. I can shift very quickly from one character to another, which is another exercise, another skill. I have triggers for each one and I just envision that person in my mind. All my senses of that person when I was practicing and learning are still there and I can shift quickly because I’ve studied. All these characters are there inside me and it’s a pretty awesome thing.”
Once an impression becomes second nature, Brown can go beyond it and stretch and exaggerate the character. He will also allow himself creative freedom and often ad-lib whatever comes into his mind while doing a particular celebrity’s voice and mannerisms. He calls that creative freedom the magical part of his show and says that he feels free to jump off wherever he wants and has the ability to get back to where he was.
“If you exaggerate the character by 10 percent, people will see it more clearly,” Brown explains. “It also adds the element of making it more comical.”
Brown says that he can get an impression down with a good week of study, one hour a day, and that he practices in front of a mirror. In the early days of his career, he did all singers because no other impressionist in Ottawa, Canada, where he is from, was doing them. It was actually in 1983, when he saw the performance of another Canadian, famed impressionist Rich Little, that Brown first knew what he wanted to do. Although he was working as a cartoonist for an Ottawa newspaper at the time, Brown went home and figured out how to study impressions and learned 50 voices within two months. Then his newspaper entered him in a media lip synch contest. Brown did Elvis and won.
For the next two years, he worked clubs in Canada, filling up rooms every night. Then one morning, after seeing “The Al Jolson Story” and finding it inspirational, he packed up, gave notice to his newspaper, and moved to Las Vegas, leaving everything behind, including his girlfriend.
“When I got to Las Vegas, I wanted to meet Paul Anka, who is also from Ottawa,” Brown recalls. “I didn’t have a car, so I hailed a cab and asked the driver if he knew where Paul lived. I went to his house and waited outside with my guitar. Finally, I went up to his door but his secretary wouldn’t let me in. I went and bought flowers, chocolates and a teddy bear for him and came back but she wouldn’t accept them. But she gave me his business umber and I went to the clubhouse in his development and called. She answered and said he’d call me but he never did.”
“Then I went to see Paul perform at the Golden Nugget,” he continues. “I gave my card to the Maitre ‘d and he took me backstage. Paul was standing there with his hands on his hips and said, ‘So you’re the guy.’ We ended up talking about my career, hopes and dreams and he was totally supportive. He told me that he had heard about my show and then hired me to open for him without having seen it. All together, I spent two-and-a-half years on the road with Paul. With this incredible destiny I’ve been blessed to live, Paul’s dressing room at the Golden Nugget is now my dressing room in The Gordie Brown Theater.”
Ironically, Brown had also met Rich Little when he did a caricature of the master impressionist in Canada and later was hired by Little to perform in his show “Copycats” at the Sahara in the early 90’s. Now, in the true sense of what goes around, comes around, Brown has come full circle.
No identity crisis here.
This article appears by courtesy of Vegas Insider Daily.com.