Kevin Pollak | 01.14.17

He doesn’t so much drop names as share them with the audience, with affection.

Helium Comedy Club, St. Louis

Kevin Pollak is a bigger deal than he thinks he is. He has this…not quite self-deprecating, but a habit of putting himself on the sidelines of celebrity. While telling stories at the Helium Comedy Club in St. Louis, he would mention someone like President Bill Clinton or Jack Nicholson, and then feature himself in the story as a bit player. This kind of humility only makes him more charming and engaging, honestly. He doesn’t so much drop names as share them with the audience with affection.

He said that people like impressionists because they steal the affection people have for the actual celebrity. I’m not sure this is exactly true. When Pollak started a pitch-perfect impersonation of Johnny Carson, I was immediately transported to the 1970s, when I would sit on my grandpa’s lap while he watched The Tonight Show. It was perfect and funny and endearing. I don’t think the affection was stolen so much as shared.

Not only does Pollak do wonderful impressions, but he does jokes inside of the impressions. He did this bit about Trader Joe’s as Christopher Walken. The bit was hilarious as it was, but when done in Walken’s voice and mannerisms, it became genius.

I know this was an amazing show because my husband actually giggled. He’s a big dude, fairly laidback, and he’s not generally a giggler. It was during the Walken bit that he completely lost it. The only other person in the world who has caused this remarkable phenomenon is Nick Offerman. As a matter of fact, Offerman and Pollak share a few rare traits: They’re both wonderful wordsmiths, and they can both build hilarity out of silence and beautifully placed pauses.

I was able to talk with Pollak for a few minutes after the show, and asked how he collected such a varied group of people to interview on the Kevin Pollak Chat Show. From Eddie Izzard to Elon Musk, Pollak has interviewed some of the most interesting and diverse folks you could imagine. He said that the first 40 to 50 cleaned out his Rolodex, some were connections through friends, and another 40 or so came from suggestions on Twitter. I love that this guy includes his fan base in the planning of this clever, simple little show. The interviews are more like conversations between friends, and if you’re not able to catch him live, definitely make some time to go through the extensive KPCS catalogue.

I would suggest, however, making an effort to catch Kevin Pollak live. It’s truly a great show, and he even signed an autograph for my mama. As she said, “Oh, what a nice guy. He’s funny, too!” | Melissa Cynova

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