The master returns following a long line of imposters and mimics. The crowded Debating Hall at Teviot is ideal for him. Busy, yes but with an intimacy that could attract hecklers and so confident is our hero that he immediately invites suggestions from the followers within. Very brave but confidence is high here and one of two shows he performs daily, the other as Hughie Green in Lena for Assembly. But today it is all about how many recognisable voices we can get in the Fringe limiting space of one hour.
With humble beginnings in hospital radio, he tells the story of how life changed with Spitting Image voices when Steve Coogan left, and the satirical nature meant a flurry of prime ministers from that era onwards. John Major was among the first then Tony Blair and an impeccable Gordon Brown quite literally jaw-dropping. David Cameron was brief but Boris Johnson an absolute gift with all the slavering, bumbling, stumbling gestures we come to observe.
As for American politicians the presidents are so well known and very distinctive starting with George Bush Sr then blending into George W. Barack Obama gets his own applause as the voice echoes the quick movements, sleepy Joe Biden is instantly recognised and as for the Donald, the facial expressions and hand movements alone are instant and from the word go bring further laughter. His years in the radio series Dead Ringers means that it is the voices that must dominate the impressions, but Jon is able to convince further with no wigs or props the full character involved instantly. This has made him hot property on several shows and on the long-running I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue we get a taster from ‘one song to the tune of another’ and in this case the challenging Nessun Dorma.
In addition to the great talent of mimicry, the performance is nothing without good scripting and Jon can add to the impersonation with some distinctive yet amusing few lines so we get none of the ‘I’m Alan Partridge’ lines which defeats lesser imitators. His songs are a rare treat too, ending with his Les Dawson voice, character and selective piano playing and fully appreciated by an audience reliving some classic TV moments.
Jon Culshaw – Imposter Syndrome runs at Gilded Balloon Teviot until Aug 27 at 16:00. Book tickets here: https://tickets.gildedballoon.co.uk/event/14:4946/