There’s a saying that all comedians want to be rock stars and all rock stars want to be comedians. Sometimes that dream gets to come true. The 20 comedians on our list transformed themselves so seamlessly into the personas of famous rock stars, pop stars, rappers and crooners that we can’t separate the musician from their famous impersonator anymore.
20) Maya Rudolph as Whitney Houston on Saturday Night Live
Maya Rudolph always brought a musical flair to her performances, but no where was her musicality and penchant for physical comedy more appreciated than in her bonkers impression of the late, great Whitney Houston.
19) Zach Galifianakis as “Kanye West” in “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”
The hilarious Zach Galifianakis would normally rank higher for starring in a Kanye West video, but it’s not a straight up impression. He’s just taking on the voice of West for comedic effect, and yes, it’s hilarious.
18) Ana Gasteyer as Celine Dion on Saturday Night Live
Celine Dion seemed like a pretty nice and untouchable personality…until Ana Gasteyer pointed out her naive egotism.
17) Kristen Wiig as Bjork on Saturday Night Live
Kristen Wiig’s comedy could sometimes polarize her audiences. People either loved or hated her over-the-top character creations. However, her penchant for the weird served her well with her Bjork impression.
16) Fred Armisen as Prince on Saturday Night Live
Uber-chameleon Fred Armisen pretty much nailed Prince in his hilarious recurring impression of him. He’d probably rank higher, but there’s another, even more hysterically funny rendition of Prince coming up.
15) Jimmy Fallon as Justin Bieber on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
Jimmy Fallon might be the best musical impressionist in the game. This whole list could be entirely composed of Fallon impressions. His impression of Justin Bieber is a mix of joy and satire. It pokes fun at the young star, but still is bursting with exuberant fandom.
[Photo Credit: NBC & WordPress]
14) Jason Bateman, Will Forte, Ed Helms & Jason Sudeikis as Mumford & Sons in “Hopeless Wanderer”
Mumford & Sons didn’t appear in their recent music video for “Hopeless Wanderer.” Instead, comedy stars Jason Bateman, Will Forte, Ed Helm and Jason Sudeikis lampooned the band and the cliches of nu folk in this silly music video.
13) Jemaine Clement as David Bowie in Flight of the Conchords
Cult hit Flight of the Conchords might be one of the best musical comedy series of the past decade. Stars Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie usually took center stage with their own songs, but in the episode “Bowie,” Clement delivers more than one absurdly hilarious take on the rock legend.
12) Noel Fielding as Kate Bush for 2011 Comic Relief
Every year, the UK puts on a massive charity drive called “Comic Relief” which boasts hilarious turns from international superstars like Daniel Craig and British comics alike. In 2011, they decided to do an elaborate dance competition called “Let’s Dance” where British comics would recreate famous dance scenes and then they were judged by other comics. Anyway, The Mighty Boosh’s Noel Fielding delivered an eerily spot on impression of Kate Bush and it’s mesmerizing and funny and sexy all at once.
11) Vanessa Bayer as Miley Cyrus on Saturday Night Live (and the VMAs!)
Vanessa Bayer’s big debut on Saturday Night Live was playing a then still just precocious Miley Cyrus in the recurring sketch, “The Miley Cyrus Show.” As time bore on and as Miley grew up, Bayer adapted the impression to reflect the changes in Cyrus’s image, but she’s still managed to make it feel like it’s the same girl…just now she like to twerk. It’s pretty cool.
10) Will Ferrell as Robert Goulet on Saturday Night Live
Maybe Robert Goulet isn’t as big a pop star or rock star as others on this list, but come on…this is Will Ferrell at his finest.
9) Eddie Murphy as Stevie Wonder on Saturday Night Live
Eddie Murphy was the unquestioned star of Saturday Night Live in the early ’80s. Not only was he quite simply the funniest guy in the room, but he also had a wicked ear for impressions like this one of Stevie Wonder.
8) Andy Kaufman as Elvis Presley on The Andy Kaufman Special
Andy Kaufman is regarded as one of the pioneers of alternative comedy. He didn’t just impersonate people or play characters; he melted into other people. His Elvis Presley impression may be one of his most mainstream acts, but it’s no else revolutionary.
7) Phil Hartman as Frank Sinatra on Saturday Night Live
Some might prefer Joe Piscopo’s take on Frank Sinatra, but we’re die hard Phil Hartman fans. I mean, how can you compete with a joke about nailing 1950s screen goddesses?
6) Dave Chappelle as Prince on Chappelle’s Show
Remember how I said that while Fred Armisen was genius, someone did Prince a tiny bit better? Dave Chappelle’s take on Prince isn’t just hilarious because it’s spot-on, but it’s got the added bonus of being narrated by Charlie Murphy.
[Photo Credit: NBC]
5) Jimmy Fallon as Mick Jagger on Saturday Night Live
While at Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Fallon got to impersonate one of his rock heroes, Mick Jagger, in front of Jagger’s face…in the mirror. The full clip isn’t online anymore, but we can still enjoy the two Jaggers pointing their fingers at each other.
4) Jimmy Fallon as Barry Gibb on Saturday Night Live and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
Justin Timberlake’s first hosting debut on Saturday Night Live also marked the debut of Jimmy Fallon’s “The Barry Gibb Talk Show” sketch. The sketch became so popular that the duo not only brought their BeeGees impression back to Saturday Night Live, but it’s also been performed on Fallon’s late night show.
[Photo Credit: NBC]
3) Eddie Murphy as Michael Jackson in Delirious
Eddie Murphy makes the list a second time for his absolutely hysterically funny and freakishly spot-on impression of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
2) Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell, Chris Kattan Chris Parnell and Horatio Sanz as Blue Öyster Cult on Saturday Night Live
It’s one of the most famous and quotable sketches in Saturday Night Live history. Christopher Walken shines as the crazy producer who wants “more cowbell” and Will Ferrell is an insane delight as the Blue Öyster Cult member who gives it to him.
So who’s number one???
1) Dave Chappelle as Rick James on Chappelle’s Show
What’s the best impression of a music star of all time? “It’s Rick James, bitch!”