Kevin Pollak: The First Performer
at Baltimore's Improv Comedy Club
It seemed as if he were telling funny stories to a friends and not a room full of strangers. Pollak, who got his big break as an actor in Barry Levinson's set-in-Baltimore movie Avalon, also does great impersonations. His bits on Christopher Walken explaining the "birds and the bees" to an 8-year-old, William Shatner auditioning for Star Trek and Arnold Schwarzenegger getting down on the dance floor at a hip night club were hilarious.
Pollak says that he doesn't practice impersonations; they either come or they don't. In other words, he can't impersonate just anyone. "I don't really study people," he says. "I just have a great gift. I'll see a movie or I'll work with someone and they just have an effect on me. I didn't realize it, but ever since I was young, before I started doing impressions, whenever I went to the movies I would walk out sort of doing the poeple in the movie that I most connected with. My wife calls me Zelig, you know, [the character] from the Woody Allen movie who literally takes people's characteristics and personalities without even being aware of it. It just happens to me."
Pollak acts as if fame just happened, too. But since an early age, he's thrived on performing. When he was 10, his mother walked in on him lip-synching to Bill Cosbys first comedy album, playing each part in the Noah and the Ark routine. "I listened to this album about a hundred or 200 times," he says. "I didn't know what lip-synching was. I just knew this was a fun thing to do. I was listening to this album and I wanted to interact with it."