Who would you imitate?

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Who would you imitate?

توضیح مختصر

Why do we like to impersonate people? Neil tries out his best impression of Elvis while teaching you some related vocabulary

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Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript.

Alice Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I’m Alice…

Neil … And I’m Neil.

Alice Can you do any impersonations, Neil?

Neil How about this one: My name is Michael Caine. Not a lot of people know that.

Alice Michael Caine, one of our best loved actors here in Britain. Not bad, Neil. And is a very good way to start today’s show. We are talking about impersonation - or the act of pretending to be somebody else. Why do we like impersonations, Neil?

Neil Well, sometimes the impersonator is a comedian and doing it to be funny. But another reason is that we get the opportunity to meet people who are no longer with us - like Elvis Presley or Marilyn Monroe. Either way, it helps if it’s a good impersonation.

Alice Yes, some impersonations are pretty cheesy - and that means bad quality.

Neil Oh yeah so… uh-huh… OK, Alice, I have a question for you!

Alice Neil, that’s terrible!

Neil Elvis, please, come on. Can you tell me the name of a musical act that impersonates a famous group? Is it … a) tribute,
b) tribune, or c) tribunal?

Alice I’ll go for a) tribute.

Neil A tribute act? OK, well, we’ll find out if you got that right later on in the show. But, Alice, don’t you think some impersonators start to believe they really are the personalities they imitate?

Alice What makes you say that?

Neil Just think: every time you appear as Elvis Presley, you get fans yelling, ‘Elvis, Elvis, we love you, Elvis!’ And after a while that boundary between you and the real Elvis starts to blur. It must be quite tempting to, you know, pretend that you’re the king of rock’n’roll…

Alice I’m not convinced, Neil. I think Elvis hangs up his wig and moves on. So let’s move on too, and talk about the art of imitation. Here’s British impressionist Jon Culshaw providing some tips on how to imitate - or copy - people.

INSERT Jon Culshaw, impressionist Don’t just say the catchphrase, don’t just say, ‘I am Michael Caine.’ Say a bit more, get some gags going, some conversation going. Notice the things which are worth stretching, which are worth exaggerating to really give you the caricature of that person. It might be a little tic, it might be a little nuance - whatever you notice first really.

Alice Jon Culshaw, there. What’s a catchphrase , Neil?

Neil It’s a well-known phrase, often associated with a famous person - like the one I used for Michael Caine earlier on! ‘Not a lot of people know that.’ So Jon is saying that it isn’t enough to repeat a catchphrase or use another impersonator’s ideas - you need to think of your own gags - or jokes.

Alice And you do this by noticing and then exaggerating a person’s tics. A tic is something you do often without realizing you’re doing it, like using certain phrases or gestures - for example, scratching your head. Or in your case, Neil, wiggling your eyebrows.

Neil Do I wiggle my eyebrows?

Alice You’re doing it right now! But moving on, there is a serious and very negative side to impersonation. Some impostors - or people who deceive others by pretending to be somebody else - pose as doctors or lawyers, for example.

Neil You mean without having the qualifications to do the job?

Alice Exactly - which can have serious consequences, for example pretending to be a doctor with no medical knowledge.

Neil Like in the film with Leonardo DiCaprio where his character impersonates an airline pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer.

Alice DiCaprio’s character in the movie Catch Me If You Can is actually based on a real man called Frank Abagnale. Pan Am estimated that in two years Abagnale flew 250 flights to 26 countries.

Neil OK, let’s listen to Dr Naftali G. Berrill, a forensic psychologist in New York City. He evaluates people for the American government. Here he’s talking about another real case of a woman in the US who was caught pretending to be an attorney - that’s a lawyer.

INSERT Dr Naftali G. Berrill, forensic psychologist in New York City The thing that was most troubling is that because she realized that she was not an attorney and that she was taking people’s money under false pretence, there was no sense of remorse or sense of sadness that she had exploited the people that trusted her. But, you know, in cases where you get these impostors who specifically are pursuing financial gain, they know what they’re doing, but they do it with the shallow conscience of an antisocial personality.

Alice That was Dr Naftali G. Berrill. What does remorse mean, Neil?

Neil It means being sorry for something you’ve done.

Alice And our conscience is our inner sense of right or wrong - so a shallow conscience is one that isn’t very deep.

Neil Antisocial in this context means harmful to other people and to society - although in a general sense, it means not enjoying the company of others.

Alice OK. Well, I love your company, Neil, as you know. Now, how about the answer to today’s quiz question?

Neil I asked: What’s the name we use for a band that impersonates a famous group? Is it … a) tribute? b) tribune? Or c) tribunal?

Alice I said tribute.

Neil And you were right!

Alice Hurray!

Neil Many tribute acts copy the singing style and the appearance of the group as well as playing their music. They often name themselves based on the original band’s name (sometimes with a pun), or on one of their songs or albums. For example, Bjorn Again - a famous Abba tribute band. This name is a pun on ‘Bjorn’, a member of Abba, and the phrase ‘Born Again’, which means to come back to life!

Alice OK. It’s time to hear the words we learned today. They are: impersonation cheesy imitate catchphrase gags tic impostors conscience shallow antisocial

Neil Well, that’s the end of today’s 6 Minute English. Please join us again soon! [Imitates Elvis again.]

Alice Bye bye.

Neil Elvis is leaving the studio!

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