On the show tonight: Canadian acting legend William Shatner. He's known for many things — his role as Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek, his early years at the Stratford Festival, for which he received a Legacy Award in October — but he's perhaps most beloved for his idiosyncratic dramatic speaking style. That. speaking. style. is like catnip to impressionists, who've taken the basic template and run with it in all kinds of wonderful directions. In tribute to the great man, we offer a look at some of his greatest imitators.
And to see the real deal in the red chair, tune in to CBC at 11:30 p.m. on August 6, 2014.
Kevin Pollak outs himself as an old-school Trekkie in this stand-up bit from his 1991 special Stop with the Kicking (Shatner responded to Pollak's impression hilariously a few years back).
Belushi goes for a somewhat more naturalistic Kirk than Pollak does in this 1976 Saturday Night Live sketch, also starring Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase.
Like Pollak, the Family Guy creator has been known to bust out his best Kirk from time to time, as on this episode of Real Time with Bill Maher:
Canadian actor Will Sasso would later go on to star with Shatner on $h*! My Dad Says, but in this Mad TV bit, he does a pretty funny Kirk in an imagined 1974 variety show called The Kirk and Spock Variety Hour.
The Seinfeld vet appeared on season two of Shatner's interview show Shatner's Raw Nerve, and did a pretty mean behind-the-scenes Kirk (it starts around 49 seconds):
The "geeks" in Judd Apatow's cult series Freaks and Geeks were big sci-fi nerds, so it should be no surprise that Samm Levine pulled out this Shatner impersonation during his (successful) audition for the role of Neal Schweiber.
Heard of The Wrath of Khan? Here's The Wrath of Farrakhan, a 1990 In Living Color sketch with Jim Carrey as Kirk and Damon Wayans as the Minister Louis Farrakhan, who appears on the Starship Enterprise to warn the crew about their enslavement.
Not every single Shatner impression is also a Kirk impression. Here, Mad TV's Frank Caliendo plays William Shatner on the set of Boston Legal.
And finally, the great Carol Burnett, who was recently awarded the Mark Twain Award for American Humour, imagines what might happen if the Starship Enterprise flew through an estrogen cloud in her 1991 Carol Burnett Show.