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A man of many faces

'Saturday Night Live' star Darrell Hammond will perform in Shippensburg, Pa.

'Saturday Night Live' star Darrell Hammond will perform in Shippensburg, Pa.

March 23, 2006|by KRISTIN WILSON

He's acted as the president of the United States. He's hosted talk shows, anchored the nightly news and told more than a few apprentices, "You're Fired."

Wearing those many hats is all in a day's work for Darrell Hammond.

The 11-season veteran of "Saturday Night Live" - renowned for his impressions and impersonations of celebrities, politicians and media figures - will bring his one-man show to Shippensburg University's H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center at 8 p.m. Friday, March 24.

Audiences can expect to see some of Hammond's most famous impressions at the show. He's known for his satirical take on former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, Regis Philbin, Donald Trump and Vice President Dick Cheney.

"I do as many impressions as I can pack into (the show) without turning it into a magic act," Hammond says.

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When Hammond develops his impressions, he works on imitating a person's voice, vocal rhythms and any accents. He also studies their mannerisms and facial expressions. To add humor, he exaggerates aspects of his characters' personalities.

During the election recount of 2000, for example, he acted as Al Gore, explaining the problems with hanging chads and faulty ballots. He's done spoofs on Dr. Phil McGraw by exaggerating some odd similes for which the psychologist is known.

For Hammond, making a living by mimicking America's most interesting public figures is a dream come true.

The actor and comedian got his start by working at a radio station in Florida. After living in New York City and acting on off-Broadway theater stages for several years, he decided to focus on impersonations.

"I knew in my heart of hearts that I would be unhappy if I didn't do this," he says. "I was all set to be poor, but I wanted my chief energies for the rest of my life to be focused on this."

In his radio station job, Hammond drilled himself on developing voice impressions. After a year of practice, he started recording demo tapes, and within 10 years he appeared in his first season of "Saturday Night Live."

Hammond's love of developing impressions came from his late mother.

"My mom used to impersonate people in the neighborhood," Hammond remembers. "She would tell stories about people in the neighborhood or what happened at work." During her stories she would imitate the voices and mannerisms of others, he says.

In recent years Hammond branched out to take on both comedic and dramatic roles in television and in film. He appeared on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and in movies such as "Agent Cody Banks" and "New York Minute."

"My life has ended up being a very rich life," he says. "I did three dramatic TV roles last year. I did a couple of independent films. I get to do stand-up ... I'm aware that it's gone far, far better than I expected it to."

Still, he's not satisfied quite yet. Hammond is looking to perfect his work, taking more time to mimic facial expressions, voice patterns and mannerisms of his famous sources.

"What I'm looking to do is revisit all of the people I do in my act and take a month on each one and sort of rediscover each one of them," Hammond says. "I'm just realizing how fascinating all these powerful people are. They didn't get to where they are by accident."

And neither did Hammond.




If you go ...



WHAT: Comedian Darrell Hammond

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, March 24

WHERE: H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center, Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, Pa.

COST: $20 to $35

DIRECTIONS: Take Interstate 81 north to Pennsylvania and take Exit 24 (Fayette Street). At exit ramp, turn left onto Pa. 696 and travel two miles to the T intersection. Turn left onto Fayette Street and proceed to another T intersection. Turn right onto King Street. At the third traffic light, turn left onto North Prince Street. Proceed a half mile to the main entrance of the Shippensburg University campus. Once on campus, turn right onto Adams Drive. Follow Adams Drive to Cumberland Avenue. The Luhrs Center is at the corner of Bucks and Cumberland Avenues. Parking is available to the right of the building and across the street in front of the building.

MORE: For more information or to purchase tickets, call 1-717-477-7469 or go to www.luhrscenter.com. Advance ticket reservations are recommended.

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