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With an ever-expanding arsenal of spot-on impressions, Pharoah’s genius stems form his attention to detail. The comedian will perform at Addison Improv June 21-23. We caught up with him before his set.

Before a Three Night Stand in Addison, Jay Pharaoh Chats Impressions, Youth, and His Feminine Butt Cheeks

Jay Pharoah started on the long trek to become a comedian as a young child, when he sat in his room for hours mimicking the people he saw on TV.  Back then, he was a kid killing time behind  his bedroom door; today, he’s just a slightly larger child on a much bigger stage, Saturday Night Live. With an ever-expanding arsenal of spot-on impressions, (Lil’ Wayne, Will Smith, and Barak Obama among his most memorable), Pharoah’s genius stems from his attention to detail. When you watch him play Eddie Murphy, he has the same laugh, makes the same hand gestures and darts his eyes in the same way as the Beverly Hills Cop.

Pharoah will perform at Addison Improv June 21-23, but we caught up with him.

FrontRow:  You started doing impressions in your bedroom as a child. Did your parents ever think you were crazy or schizophrenic?

Jay Pharoah:  [Laughs] All they heard were mufflings in my room, so they just thought I was doing the nasty things little boys do. They never busted in, so I guess I never alarmed them too much. They didn’t say anything like, “Oh, my son is crazy.” It was more like [in his most motherly voice], “Our son has locked himself in his room like Sam off of Clarissa Explains It All.” I know that’s a crazy reference but … you know. They were like there’s somebody in there with him, but now they know that was all me! Your son is not a crazy nut, he’s an aspiring comic.

FR:  How do you start doing an impression? And are most of the celebrities you do impressions of cool with it? Or do some get upset?

JP:  I start out doing an impression because I notice some ticks they have. Then I just put my mind to it and get it done. Not everyone can do impressions; it takes an eye for it just like musicians need an ear for music. Mockery is the sincerest form of flattery. So if I do you I like some of your stuff. Nobody has really ever gotten mad. I haven’t heard anything. I mean, Kat Williams, once before I got on SNL, was mad at me because I was doing him in a chat room on Twitter. He got mad and went off [in his Kat Williams voice], “Do you know my babies? You ignorant son of a bitch you. How you do me when I’m me?” I could just see his perm sizzling in my head, his nappy roots popping out.

FR:  Did you stop impersonating him?

JP:  Oh, hell no! For what? I started making fun of him on my radio show. But besides that everyone’s been cool.

FR:  Could you describe what was going through your head when you found out you landed the SNL gig?

JP:  I think I died. I was dead for about two seconds and came back [laughs]. When I came back I thought, “Oh sh*t, I’m going to be on television now. I can finally move out of my parents house.”

FR:  What’s the weirdest encounter you have ever had with a fan?

JP:  When a chick came up to me at the Men in Black 3 premiere and was like, “I’m a big fan, Jay, and you have very feminine butt cheeks.” What the hell does that even mean? You know if someone says feminine butt cheeks, they’re next code of attack is kidnapping. Who knows what type of tools she has her house to try to furthermore feminine my ass cheeks. I can’t have that happen to me. I felt really uncomfortable so at that point I just left the party. That made me, self-conscious, I don’t care about it now, but I was on the stair master like, “Oh man I have to get rid of these feminine butt cheeks!”

FR:  Now, whenever you look your name up on the internet you find all these raving reviews from blogs of your impressions of rappers, actors and athletes– all of whom are black men. Now is this on purpose? Do you prefer to impersonate black men?

JP:  See, that’s kind of annoying about the media; it’s like if only you people knew. I have a huge mix of characters. I do a butt-load of white people now. Now on SNL they’ll have a white guy dude  play a white dude, but in my other acts I do everything, man. But its whatever. I’ve heard some people say I’m a genius, and that’s cool, but I went to community college. So I guess forget four-year college! Where am I at? Hello, SNL!