I first saw Charlie Hides years ago at the 2 Brewers in Clapham, South London. Her characters of Kandi Kane Baxter, Laquisha Jonz and impersonations of Delia Smith and Sharon Osbourne used to make me roar with laughter. Once I had the ‘cremated remains’ of Kandi’s ‘deceased husband Reginald’ poured over my head for misbehaving in the front row. Luckily it was just sand, but these tales of naughty humour were just a fraction from the comic genius that was to come.
Fast forward to 2013 and now Charlie Hides is an internet sensation with a YouTube account nearly as popular as some of the divas he so wonderfully makes fun of. I spoke to him after one of his fantastic live shows at a packed-out Royal Vauxhall Tavern (RVT).
DH: When did you start doing impersonations, and who was your first one?
CH: I first started doing voices and impersonations as a kid, imitating my teachers and class mates and voices from cartoons and TV shows. I wasn’t the “class clown” because I had to be well-behaved in class. My dad was a head master and knew all my teachers so I had to behave, OR ELSE!
But in the playground and in the lunch room I was always an entertainer. I could do a perfect impersonation of my junior high school headmaster that my friends all loved to hear.
The first celebrity I got paid to imitate was Joan Rivers. I was hired to host a big splashy celebrity impersonation revue show as Joan and during the run of the show I kept adding other celebrities to the act.
DH: Who do you like ‘being’ the most, and who would you most like to meet face to face?
CH: I love playing Lourdes Leon, I play her as a sulky teen-ager who’s embarrassed by her mum. She’s had some of the best lines and put downs and is a lot of fun to play.
I think I’d most like to meet Cher because she’s a living legend. Oscar winning actress, Golden Globe winning singer, director, model, comedian and kick ass Twitter writer. At 67 she’s more glamorous than most 20 year olds.
DH: Do you think you’ve ever gone too far?
CH: Ummm… no! I don’t think I go far enough. I censor myself and cut the meanest lines before I even start filming. I’m not trying to hurt or be overly critical with my comedy, I’m more concerned with making people laugh and want my videos to be entertaining, not hurtful. I save my darker material for my live show.
DH: How are things going at the RVT?
CH: Very well thank you, I’ve always loved performing there, I used to work there two or three times a year and always loved it. Being able to perform there every week is a dream come true. The audiences there are just the best! We have a lot of fun and they encourage me to keep experimenting and trying new things.
DH: How do your live shows compare to the YouTube videos, and what do you enjoy the most?
CH: They are two completely different mediums… I’m much more spontaneous and in the moment during a live show but I love them both. I could never choose one over the other and feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to do both.
I love the connection, and the give and take that I get with a live audience, but it’s ephemeral. Once the show is over, it’s gone. A YouTube video can be watched over and over again and be seen by people on the other side of the planet within seconds of uploading, or years later. In my live shows I’m definitely darker and more politically incorrect, because I don’t have to worry about advertisers or “violating community standards.” I’m raw and uncensored. I enjoy that freedom.
DH: Are you single? What kind of guys do you go for?
CH: No, I’m not single… I’ve been happily married for nice years. James is very funny, kind, patient, and creative, and is my best friend. We are together 23 hours a day and make each other laugh all the time. Before I met James I didn’t have a “type” as I dated people older, younger, tall, short, skinny, chubby, black, white – damn, that makes me sound like a slut! But they were all different. The one thing they had in common was they were “nice”. They all had kind hearts and were genuinely good people. I never had time for the dangerous bad boys or trouble-makers.
Charlie Hides is at the RVT’s S.L.A.G.S./CHILL-OUT, Sundays from 2pm
(show time from 5:30pm).
To see more of Charlie’s videos, check out Charlie Hides TV