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They say it’s easier to make an audience burst into tears than it is to crack them up, and when it comes to Charlie Hides you will have a little bit of both. He’ll have you crying with laughter. Just a quick browse through his hilariously elaborated videos is enough to understand why the talented comedian has gone viral, becoming a worshipped YouTube sensation.
Known worldwide for his impeccable impressions of Madonna, Lady Gaga, Cher and every pop diva you can possibly think of–including teen heart-snatcher Justin Bieber–there’s more to Charlie Hides than the eye can meet. He pens the witty lines he will later deliver in front of the camera and takes care of every single errand from editing the video to making sure the characters look fabulous and believable.
Every Wednesday he’ll bring the divas over to your house, and if you’re lucky Charlie will unleash his very own creations that include Christian extremist Loretta Lee Jackson and Ghetto hot-mess Laquisha Jonz. Welcome to the universe of Charlie Hides.
Toonari Post (TP): You direct, write, perform, edit your videos…How do you explain what you do for a living when there’s so many layers to your professional career?
Charlie Hides (CH): Well my main interest is making people laugh so “comedian” is the label that I feel most comfortable with.
TP: Did you always know you wanted to work in the entertainment industry?
CH: From my earliest recollections I was an entertainer; putting on plays in the basement with my brothers and sisters, appearing in school productions… etc. As a kid I would entertain my friends on the school playground by doing the voices of the teachers. I got so good at mimicking the voice of my high school principle that I could fool the teachers.
TP: What single moment made you embark on this journey?
CH: The first time I heard a paying audience laugh at my jokes sealed my fate. I came off stage feeling more alive than I had ever done in my life and I wanted to go right back on and do it all over again.
TP: What or who would you cite as your inspirations, idols and influences?
CH: There are too many inspirations to list. I’m inspired by lots of things, music, TV, movies as well as the by people I see in day to day life. Saturday Night Live was an early inspiration for me. It was a great mix of original sketch comedy, celebrity impressions and pop culture. The musical guests were always the hottest acts on the charts and it was the only chance for me to see some of these legendary performers live.
TP: Now you’re a renowned YouTube personality thanks to your genius videos. Were you always drawn to the video format?
CH: I’ve been making videos for years which I used in my live shows as a way of keeping the audience entertained while I did a quick costume change into another character. When I moved to England YouTube was a great way of sharing my videos with my friends and family back home in the States.
TP: How has YouTube changed your career?
CH: It never crossed my mind that I’d have so many people in other countries watching me, or that I’d be seen by the celebrities. The biggest change to my career is that number of people from around the world who are seeing my work. My channel gets over 10,000 views a day, that’s mind boggling.
TP: In your hilarious parodies you spoof all kinds of divas. Who’s your favorite pop icon to impersonate? Who’s the audience’s favorite?
CH: My favorite celebrity is whichever one I’m doing at the moment. It changes from day to day. The Madonna Gaga videos get the most views because of the huge amount of interest in everything they do and anything related to them.
As a writer and actor my favorite characters to play are the original ones like Laquisha Jonz, Loretta Lee Jackson, Maureen and Stanley Blackstone. I’m free to start with a blank slate and don’t have to worry about recreating a certain look or accent. And I don’t have to worry about offending any fans.
TP: Let’s say you are to impersonate a new character. What would the process be like? How do you find that signature touch so everyone will recognize who you’re portraying?)
CH: Anytime I challenge myself to impersonate a new celebrity it starts with the research. I watch their music videos, movies, interviews etc , and then I experiment with wigs and make up to see if I can get my face to look like them. I look for mannerisms, gestures, facial expressions etc. and I try to incorporate as many details as I can.
There are some people I just can’t look like due to the shape of my face and body type. Sometimes an iconic costume or hairstyle can suggest the celebrity enough to make a joke work. Plop a Tina Turner wig on a fire hydrant and everyone will know who its meant to be.
TP: Pop stars are usually accompanied by a hovering entourage of hair & make-up assistants, costume designers… Do you have your own team or you’re also in charge of your image?
CH: I wish I had a team! No, it’s just me and a bag of wigs and video camera.
TP: Have you gotten any feedback from the famous stars you impersonate? Who would be your dream celebrity run-in?
CH: I’ve not heard directly from anyone I impersonate but Kylie Minogue has tweeted me a couple of times and Boy George took me to lunch in London after seeing my videos. I’ve heard from Cher’s vocal coach that she is now saying “Hellooooo” and “whooooo?” to her sister and friends. And I’ve been told that Lourdes and Rocco are watching the videos of their mom. I’d love to sit beside Madonna on a long haul flight but I’m guessing she wouldn’t be too impressed to meet me.
TP: What’s your take on social media? Do you think the plots you create really take place in real life?
CH: I think most people know that celebrities use the media to create and maintain an image and that their public personas are often a very different version of themselves. I like to imagine what goes on behind the scenes and then exaggerate the ideas for comic effect. If those “plots” really happen in real life it’s purely coincidence.
TP: Fans can be as fierce and catty as the divas they worship. How have those die-hard fans reacted to your parodies?
CH: At first some fans thought I was being critical but over time most people have realized that I’m affectionate and not mean-spirited. I don’t take it too seriously. I have a genuine respect and admiration for the accomplishments of most of the subjects of my videos. My goal is to brighten people’s day with a bit light-hearted fun and I think that my intention comes through.
Make sure to tune in for a new video every Wednesday.
Image Courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/pages/Charlie-Hides-TV/136970379705116