Frankly, George Bush has been a disappointing president so far for Rich Little. Oh sure, Bush whines a little and waves his hands around, but he's no Richard Nixon. Nixon - now there was a great president, if you happen to be a comedian who makes his living impersonating famous people.
Bush, on the other hand, hasn't emerged as a very distinctive personality so far. And besides, complains Little, "he hasn't written enough material for me yet."But then a lot of impersonators can do the easy people - Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Stewart, Ed Sullivan. What sets Rich Little apart is his ability to do the challenges, like Bush.
The president will be just one of dozens of famous people Little will be bringing to Salt Lake City on April 9, as part of a benefit concert to celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Children's Center, a treatment program for emotionally disturbed children.
"A Little Gift of Love" will begin at 6 p.m. in Symphony Hall. Tickets, which sell for $35 ($50 if the VIP reception afterwards is included), are available at all Gump and Ayers offices.
In addition to his regular repertoire of 200 voices, Little has added a couple of new voices this year, including televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, TV commentator Andy Rooney and President Bush, although Little admits that he still hasn't perfected this last one.
In a phone interview from his home in California, Little said he is working on a new skit, which he'll have ready for the Salt Lake show - a skit in which Bush calls Ronald Reagan to find out where he can find things in the Oval Office.
Little says Reagan is one of his favorite impressions. He also likes to do the entertainers he admires the most, like Frank Sinatra and Neil Diamond. "But if Andy Rooney brings the house down, then I guess Andy Rooney is my favorite."
There seems to be a tendency these days away from the kind of actors who are so easy to imitate, observes Little. "How do you do Robert Redford or Harrison Ford or Dustin Hoffman? You almost have to mention the particular movie they were in. We don't have the characters and personalities we used to."
Little has been doing impressions since he was a schoolboy in Canada. The first objects of his gift of mimicry were his teachers. They'd ask him a question and he'd answer in their own voices.
He gained national attention in Canada in his early 20s when he recorded his first album, "My Fellow Canadians," which became the best-selling comedy album in the country's history. He was introduced to the American public in 1964, on "The Judy Garland Show."
He is so adept at sounding like the people he mimics that he has even been hired to complete film and television roles for actors, such as Peter Sellers and Stacy Keach, who have died or been incapacitated during filming.
Last summer he appeared in Provo for America's Freedom Festival. At his friend Bob Hope's suggestion, Little left his more daring characters at home during that visit. But Little says even Dr. Ruth will be coming to Utah this time around.