Luke Kempner, Impressionist, Tour, TotalNtertainment, York

10 Questions With… Luke Kempner

Top impressionist Luke Kempner takes his House Of Faces show out on the road later this year and we spoke to the man of a thousands voices about his career… at least we think it was him…

Before you get reading though, Luke brought along one of his “famous friends” to say a few words.

1. Great to talk to you Luke. You’ve got the show “House Of Faces” touring at the end of the year, you must be pretty excited about that?
“Super excited. It’s the first time I’ve gone out on tour under my own name. I used to be in musical theatre and did shows like Les Mis, Avenue Q and South Pacific. Then I did a show called Downstairs At Downton which was just me but this is the first time I’ve gone out as just Luke Kempner so, you know, I’m buzzing for it.”

“The show is a mix of stand-up and sketches. It’s about my love and obsession with TV but it’s also got a throughline about how I auditioned for my favourite show Hamilton and I didn’t get it and, I’m absolutely fine with that (laughs). There’s loads of impressions from Gogglebox and The Apprentice through to Game Of Thrones and Queer Eye and everything from Andy Murray to Liam Gallagher and The Queen to Phillip Schofield. There’s something like about fifty impressions in there, loads of stuff, so it should be a lot of fun.”

2. Which leads nicely into the next question as, looking at your list, it would seem that nobody is off limits?
“Absolutely. The thing is though, the way I do it is always tongue-in-cheek. I’m a nice guy honest. I remember the Downton Abbey show I did which was a whole show based on Downton Abbey and I had members of the cast come and see it and no-one was offended, it was all done in good taste.”

3. Are you working on any new voices at the moment?
“Well, you know, I tried very hard to get Louis Theroux into the show and it started off where I couldn’t find the voice then (in Louis Theroux style) all of a sudden I found it and it was quite easy to do. That was loads of fun to work on. Nearly everybody I do there is something about them that I like. Donald Trump, I wouldn’t say I necessarily like him but there is something about him that you can really get your teeth into.”

4. Has anyone been offended by your impression of them?
“No, not at all. I remember I recently did a show called The Imitation Game with Alexander Armstrong and I said (in Alexander Armstrong style) ‘well Alexander, I think I can do an impression of you’ and he wasn’t sure but I did it. Even my best mate is Iain Stirling the voice of Love Island and I remember sending him an audio note of my impression of him and he sent one back saying it didn’t sound anything like him. I supported him on tour last year and I did the impression as he was about to come on and the audience gave me enough laughs to prove him wrong.”

5. From your point what makes an impression you’re working on good enough to unleash on the public?
“I think it’s different with every voice. Like, you could do your Uncle John and it sound really like him but, for me, there has to be a joke like Andy Murray because, it’s fine to be able to sound like him and have that kind of tone to the voice but there has to be some sort of joke there. So, the way I play Andy is that I make out that he still lives at home like a teenager with his mum because she’s so involved in his life. Of course, none of it is true but that’s just the character I’ve added to it to make it funny.”

“With someone like Donald Trump it’s hard to write something more bizarre than he actually is. He’s the gift that keeps on giving but, you know, I’ve got this bit in the show where he talks to David Attenborough about how he loves him in Jurassic Park but he thinks it’s one of the strangest documentaries he’d ever seen. Now I’m sure that Donald Trump wouldn’t know who David Attenborough is but I’m also sure he wouldn’t think he was Richard Attenborough nor would he think Jurassic Park was a documentary. It’s just that adding that little bit to the character.”

6. How did you get into impressions and have you had much advice from any of the experienced impressionists out there?
“Oh yeah loads. I got into it really young by doing impressions of the teachers at school and getting sent out then my parents getting called in because I was disrupting the class. Usually what I was told off about was doing voices and making people laugh and, well, it’s turned out alright.”

“As far as advice from other people, I’ve been lucky to work with them all. I’ve worked with Rory Bremner loads, I’ve worked with Alistair Mcgowan and even some of the younger impressionists like Jess Robinson and Ronni Ancona. They’ve all been great at giving advice but the thing is we’ve all got to find our own way of doing them. Once I remember I was having real problems doing Piers Morgan and I remember hearing Alastair Mcgowan doing it and it not sounding a million miles from Kermit but there is thing where he supresses the larynx and it all became easy. From there I realised I could use that sound to put it through other voices that aren’t necessarily Piers Morgan. It’s been amazing to work with so many legends of the game.”

7. A lot of the legends started on programmes like “Spitting Image”. Is that an opportunity you would have liked?
“Absolutely! I’ve been watching clips of it recently. I’ve working a lot with Russell Kane recently where he interviews me as lots of different people and he said he really wanted this Spitting Image type satire and I had to admit I hadn’t really seen it. So, I sat back and watched loads of it and was like this is what we’re missing where we don’t all have to be so careful about it. If it’s a joke it’s a joke and we’re living in these mad times with Brexit and Donald Trump and we have to go so much further to make these things more laughable than they actually are.”

8. Do you have a particular favourite to do?
“I would say there are quite a few I like doing. I like doing Jeremy Kyle because he’s got such an aggressive, arrogant tone to him that I like to be able to strut about on the stage as Jeremy Kyle and berate people but people can see it’s me and i’m joking but it’s a lot of fun for people to see the version of Jeremy Kyle I have come up with.”

9. I saw a clip of you on Blind Date with Christopher Biggins and Rory Bremner. If you could go on a date or night out with any of the people you impersonate who would it be?
“Oh yeah, that was a lot of fun and I bet Christopher Biggins would like me to say him. I’d have to say though that it would have to be Arsene Wenger the former Arsenal manager. I’m a huge Arsenal fan and I was lucky enough to do my impression of him to him when I did a gig for the Arsenal charity. Afterwards they invited me to the Directors Box which is such a privilege. Arsene Wenger came in and I was introduced as “this is Luke he does an impression of you” and he asked to hear it but, oh my God, I would love to go for dinner with him, I would pick his brains about a million things.”

10. Thanks for your time Luke, do you want to give the shows one last plug before we finish up?
“I would love to see as many people there as possible. The tickets are selling really well and it would just be amazing to sell out as many shows as possible. I can’t wait to get on tour and get out and meet people so come along!”

Luke’s House Of Faces show kicks off at the Epstein Theatre in Liverpool on the 26th September. To get the full list of dates visit Luke’s Official Website