There are few things in this life as difficult as running a marathon without training for it, giving birth to septuplets or having a root canal performed on you without anaesthesia, but believe it or not - transcribing an interview with American comedian/celebrity voice impressionist Pablo Francisco? Near. Impossible.
Even if you could hear over the sound of your own laughter (because he will have you in stitches), you’d still be left trying to convey the genius behind all the impressions that he does because, well, they’re freakin’ amazing.
And if you‘ve got any reason to doubt it, which means you either haven’t heard of him or seen his special variety of stand-up on Youtube already, then indeed, get your smartphones out now and do yourselves a favour. Mr. Francisco is approaching 11 million views for his video sensation Previewman Parody aka Little Tortilla Boy, in which the Tucson, Arizona native does his most famous impression of American movie voiceover king Don LaFontaine, as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Keanu Reeves.
It’s easy to see why critics have compared Francisco’s stand-up comedy routines to that of an hour-long comedic jazz-riff. When you get him on the phone, there’s almost no logic to what comes out of the comedians mouth, or so it seems. He is off the cuff, his impressions are spot on, and he works hard to keep the person on the other end guessing.
When I finally get the chance to ask the comedian when he first started doing impressions, he hints that it started at a young age, but credits his friends and family for his strong conviction to turn his talents into a career.
“I had some friends who used to tell me - you know, you always have that group of friends who encourage you are egg you on to do funny stuff - so I had this group of friends who told me, yeah man, you can do it!”
And do it is exactly what Francisco did. He appeared on MADtv as a featured player in the ‘90s, landed his own comedy special with Comedy Central Presents in 2000, has performed on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and also on Comedy Central’s Mind Of Mencia, hosted by American comedian Carlos Mencia, and has made guest appearances on Frank TV and Family Guy recently, all the while touring up a storm across the ‘States, Europe and Australia.
“The first trip out was fantastic because everyone in Australia treated me like family,” Francisco remembers.
Though his success story is as apparent as his talents, its still hard for to image what it must’ve been like as an aspiring comedian in the Francisco household.
“Well,” he begins, “when I needed to money that my brother had borrowed from me back off of him, I’d always do an impression of Arnold Schwarzenegger because that’s the only way that I could get my money back. So I’d be like ‘Listen to me! I need my money back, what’s wrong with you? Give me my money back now - or else!’”
At this point in the conversation, and for the twentieth time during the interview, I forget what I’m after. Francisco had done impressions of Michael J. Fox (his favourite currently, he tells me), Jerry Seinfield, Don LaFontaine, Arnie, and Christopher Walken to name a meagre few. In between my laughter and gasping for air, I manage to ask him about his relationship with the movie voiceover king.
“When I met Don LaFontaine, he was such a great guy. And would you believe, he actually talks like that! I’m working on some of the voiceovers right now myself. Don gave me some of his equipment, so I’ve been doing the work now, or trying to get it together. It’s been a bit of a process, you know? But I’ve been doing some international projects and such – it’s been great.”
Francisco is headed to Australia next month for the third time in his lively career and is sure to sell out venues across the country. What isn’t so certain is just who he's bringing with him.
“I’ve got a secret arsenal of impressions I do, sure! A bit of beat boxing, who knows? Whatever strikes me. My favourite people to do impressions of changes every few months, you know? My favourite person right now is Michael J. Fox... ‘What’s the deal, doc? ’Come on… Mallory?’ Stuff like that."
Pablo Francisco performs at The Forum on Monday September 26. Tickets through Ticketmaster.