Glee "Glee, Actually" Review: Have Yourself a Very Glee-ful Christmas

Glee S04E10: “Glee, Actually”

In the name of full disclosure, I’ve never seen the film "Love, Actually" but I read the Wikipedia page and it actually helped make some sense out of the WTF-ery I was trying to sort through in my post-episode shellshock—as much sense as Glee manages to make these days, at least. There was also Sue’s blatant invocation of the chosen tribute, helpfully included in the beginning of the episode: “It’s where several separate storylines are sandwiched together between commercial breaks and then tied together at the end with a beautiful bow. Like that movie Love, Actually, which I don’t think anyone really cares for.” Thanks, Sue!


Story 1: It’s a Wonderful Life, Artie

Irish exchange student Rory—who'd been MIA since last season—returned to be the Clarence to Artie’s George Bailey when Artie fell down an icy ramp and wound up in the nurse’s office, dreaming his way through a perfect world in which he had the use of his legs.

Or not so perfect. Like George Bailey kept Bedford Falls from falling apart, Artie, we learned, was the glue that held the glee club together. Without him, Sue ruled the school, Emma married Ken Tanaka, and Schue drank away his resentment for Terri and their fake baby. Becky was preggers, all the males in the school appeared to be douchebag jocks, Kurt never graduated because he couldn’t handle the bullying, nor did he ever meet Blaine who, presumably, was still a Warbler. Rachel never got the lead in anything and, therefore, never embraced her insufferably obnoxious self (I thought this was supposed to be a bad alternate reality?) and Quinn died because, as Rory stated, “Quinn texts and drives in every timeline.” Also something about a broken heart.

I SEE what you were trying to do, Glee, but I think that some of the spectacular sloppiness from last week carried over to this homage-within-an-homage. After a failed attempt to motivate his peers through “Feliz Navidad,” Artie reclaimed his wheelchair having learned his lesson and resolving to accept his lot in life like a good little martyr. Don’t get me wrong—Artie coming to terms with his disability is a very positive thing, but the rationale behind it just seemed kind of unfair. If it’s any consolation, I have the same issue with the actual It’s a Wonderful Life. George Bailey and Artie are caring, and giving individuals, often at the cost of their own immediate gratification, and that’s totally admirable but that doesn’t mean that they can’t occasionally just want for the same breaks in life that they often enable others to experience.

Furthermore, we’ve already seen Artie take a pretty proactive approach to his wheelchair when he bonded with Quinn last season, an approach that was far more nuanced in its implications than this episode's apparent “the fate of the world rests upon your inability to walk” nonsense. Artie influenced Quinn’s life for the better in a way that no one else at that time could, and at the same time, he enjoyed the experience of spending time with her and showing her that there was still fun to be had, even in the chair. It was a mutually beneficial experience.

The idea that Artie HAS to be paralyzed for the good of everyone else just doesn’t sit right with me, but hey, that’s just me.


Story 2: Ice Ice Baby

With Rachel off to spend the holidays on a Rosie O’Donnell cruise with her dads, Kurt settled in for an artfully lonely Christmas on his own... until Mr. Hummel knocked on the door bearing a tree, a mysterious gift, and some generally terrible news—he'd been diagnosed with prostate cancer. I’m sure this will be handled with all the tastefulness and sensitivity Glee is so known for.

Kurt’s secret present turned out to be Blaine, which definitely skirted the line between awesome and awkward, as far as presents go. Neither Kurt nor Blaine wanted to ditch their traditional Christmas duet over little things like infidelity and their barely repaired relationship BUT if Kurt’s rather restrained response to news of Blaine’s decision to audition at NYADA is anything to go on, Klaine is hardly about to kiss and make up.

Still, the cheesy choreographed song-and-ice-dancing routine was some sorely needed lightheartedness after the mixed messaging in It’s a Wonderful Artie and the generally morose undertones of pretty much every Blaine and Kurt interaction since their break-up. That’s the Christmas campiness I was waiting for!


Story 3: The Puckermen Take L.A.

Continuing the trend of unexpected reunions started by Papa Hummel, the Brothers Puckerman road-tripped to California, attempted to network at Paramount Pictures through the magic of song, got kicked out of the swanky McMansion that Puck Sr. was squatting in while the owners were on vacay, and decided to return to Lima to wallow in their mutual daddy issues.

They decided to create a bonafide Hanukkah miracle by taking their mortal-enemy moms to dinner. It initially went as well as you’d expect, with plenty of snarking and passive-agressive name-calling, but wise ol’ Puck Sr. pointed out that the women shouldn’t be mad at each other, they should be mad at the dude they slept with... and suddenly all of that resentment that built up over the years melted away.

Since his whole screenwriting/pool-cleaning schtick in L.A. was kind of a disaster, Puck Sr. decided to return to Lima on a full-time basis to look out for his Mini Me. Mazel tov with that, Puckerman.


Story 4: Apocalypse...Now?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Weird Glee is the best Glee. Always reliable to deliver said weird, Brittany started the Mayan Apocalypse Club with Sam, to prepare for the end of civilization. Brittany emptied her savings account to shower her friends with cars and watches and in the name of purifying herself, and she also decided to give them the gift of truth: Tina’s acting aspirations are a pipe dream and she should just stop and while Brittany has no opinion of Joe, Marley is “delightful.” When the rest of the gang left in disgust, Sam serenaded his blonde bestie, backed by a line of Cheerios dressed as reindeer. The goofy get-ups weren’t QUITE of Dinosaur Prom caliber... but they were close.

And then Sam proposed. Oh.

OH.

Well, end of the world and all. Beiste wed them, claiming to have been ordained through an online Mayan church website, and Bam went off to enjoy their brief time together before the giant crocodile carrying the earth on its back was destroyed. Three days later, they realized that they'd survived. Oops.

Of course, there are no online Mayan churches, so Beiste was never ordained to do anything, so the unholy union of Brittany and Sam wasn’t binding in any possible way THANK GOD, but with the meltdown of civilization averted, our two doomsday preppers were feeling a little bit empty inside. Beiste was there for the save, helpfully providing a new date for the Mayan apocalypse with a little help from Indiana Jones.


Story 5: Marley & Sue

In addition to ruining the glee club competition season, Marley and her magical bulimia also managed to ruin Christmas at the Rose household because Mom had to use their Christmas present money to hire a fancy-schmancy eating-disorder therapist for Marley. Wow, Glee. I mean, WOW. Just when I think that this storyline can’t get anymore amazingly horrible, you go the Christmas-is-canceled-due-to-Bulimia route, you beautiful disaster, you.

After that point was made clear and I determined that I was neither laughing NOR crying, but instead, had fallen off the sofa from the combined hysteria of doing BOTH at the SAME TIME, we learned that Sue had ended up with Marley’s mom in McKinley High's Secret Santa gift exchange. Initially irritated by her bad luck of the draw, Sue’s conniving mind was changed by a chance encounter with the Roses during their little “No Christmas until you eat a sandwich” pep-talk.

At least the issue is being addressed, right? Marley realized that she had a problem and took the steps to get help. Her mother was there with support, and even Sue, SUE of all people, finally took the freaking issue seriously and gifted Momma Rose with enough money to cover Marley’s treatment... in addition to breaking into the house to leave a tree and presents in the living room. Oh Sue, you grumpy ol’ softie. She’s like one of those coconut nougats—crunchy AND squishy.


Musical Notes


– My End-of-the-World Glee Holiday Playlist: Blaine and Kurt’s “White Christmas” on ice, the Puck Brothers’ “Oh, Hanukkah” duet, and the ensemble’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

– Brittany and Sam’s vows were sweetly honest in their shallowness, weren’t they?

Sam: “Brittany, I always thought you were super hot and really smart but what I didn’t know was that you were going to end up being my soulmate. Who knows what the future holds for us—probably tsunamis and horrible sea monsters—but now I’m not worried about that because I have you.”

Brittany: “ Sam, when you first joined the glee club I didn’t notice for a while. It wasn’t until you did a Rich Little impression and told me it was a Rich Little impression and then explained who Rich Little was that I knew you were special. I can’t tell you how excited I am to become your Mayan star wife.”

– Okay, fine, so Kurt using his late mother’s perfume bottle as a Christmas ornament made me sniffle a little. But JUST a little. I don’t want Glee getting the idea that I have, like, feelings or something.

– Puck moving back to Lima—awesome or not awesome? I’m holding out hope that if we see more of Original Recipe Puck, Mini-Puck will get the chance to become more than a flimsy copy of his predecessor.

– Did I hear “topless scene” in the promo for when the show returns in January? Please tell me I didn’t hear that. You can lie if you want. I won’t tell Santa.

Comments (34)
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MaryAnn Sleasman, you were neither good nor creative in your recaps (not as Tim, Price or Lily) but the fact that you REALLY didn't see Love, Actually just killed me. Who didn't see Love, Actually?! Ok, who admits it? It's LOVE, ACTUALLY mfg, it's CLASSIC, what's wrong w/u, u act like u're PROUD of it, are u allright?!

Sorry, I spent a lot of time trying to LIKE u just a little bit, it'll be enough for me but u make it impossible. Maybe reviewing is not your piece of cake?
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The alternate timeline idea would have been great for a reboot though. Artie is able to walk again, and becomes the new Finn after graduation. Sam, Kurt, Blaine, Finn, Rachel, Mercedes, Brittany, Santana, Puck, Mike, Tina, Unique, Emma, Will and everyone else I may be forgetting are completely written off the show, and Artie starts up a new Glee Club with just Kitty, Marley, Jake, Ryder, and 8 new cast members.
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I think the It's a Wonderful Life segment is being taken a little too seriously. It was obviously meant as a Christmas-themed dream sequence for Artie, and nothing more. How else do you explain Mike Chang being there? Without the glee club taking up so much of his time, he probably wouldn't have even gotten that Asian F, so there's no way he wouldn't have graduated. And there's no way Beiste would have allowed Finn, Puck, and Mike to play and continue wearing their letter jackets had they flunked out. Sam and Mike were never bullies, and Finn only ever went along with it, and even then, he'd let Kurt prepare himself for the dumpster dumps. Puck would have been the only d-bag. Like I said, self-centered dream. As for Artie's backslide, do people with disabilities dream of themselves as they are? I don't have any disabilities, so this is a shallow example, but in my dreams, I still have a full head of hair, and still built like I was in college. I imagine if I ever lost a limb, my dream self would still be whole.
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As others have said last year's christmas special was most likely the worst episode of the entire series so this one had no issue with expectations. On the whole I thought it was a good episode but it was wildly uneven. The Artie story was the worst not because the message was wrong, just that the execution was poor and it was probably not the kind of story that can be done justice in 10 minutes. I won't hear anything bad about It's a Wonderful Life, that movie is flawless.
Blaine's story was pretty good, Puckermans' was a bit meh for me, Brittany and Sam's was charming and I'm relieved they didn't really get married - they do fit well together despite how this pairing undermines her lesbianness, and Sue's fluctuated - the longer everyone treats Marley like crap for her disorder instead of murdering Kitty, the more frustrated I will get. The story picked up towards the end, though with some great comedic moments, the what do you give to a woman who's eaten everything, the recurring gag with the jumper, the Marley & Me joke, all good stuff
One more thing that's irritating me about this season: we need the new characters to each have their voiceover episodes, that's been a pivotal part of Glee's success as it subtlely parodies the characters to balance out some of the overly-earnest goody two shoes treacle we get most of the time. So far it's been all earnestness from Marley, Puck Jr, and Ryder. This show is meant to be a comedy, if none of these characters have any self-effacing schtick the show will be weaker for it.
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Thank you; you said everything I perceived and said it almost exactly the same. Very nice :)
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as always WEMMA was over looked- would it have killed them to put in short scene- of wemma home by their tree dancing or kissing?
there was plenty of time to incorporate it in the last song
Matt was already on set!- they just needed to get Jayma for couple of hours
the fact that there is a wedding coming up (?) doesn't mean we don't need our wemma fix -especially on xmas!
we could have lived without the Sam song- really it was not even good
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Honestly this episode could have been twice as bad and it would still have been a million times better than last season's one. I was very pleased to see Rory back though and loved the way he said "glue" in his cute Irish way :)
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Best song: The Puckerman bros' Hanukka song, loved it. And I still hate Bam, they make no sense. Sam, you have a sucky taste in women (except Mercedes. Btw, what happened to her and Sam? Did they ever break up? :(). A pretty solid episode, I really enjoyed getting to know more about Puck jr. And seeing Sue slowly falling for the holiday spirit. Less Bam would have made it better. Ugh
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Woah Puck Jr mum is Charley from friends and the shock that she has aged is probably because Friends is never off our screens!!
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Thanks, I thought I recognised her.
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Glee should stop doing christmas episodes. Because of the whole mini-stories-coming-together/Love actually copying this episode seemed to be all over the place. The stories didn't even "tie together at the end with a beautiful bow." The just ended. Period.

And I can't believe they managed to do an even more terrible christmas episode than last year. Seriously, how is that even possible?

But about what actually happened without all the christmas.

Suddenly Artie is the glue keeping the Glee club together? What about Finn? The whole show started with Schue trying to find somebody "cool" or leader or whatever he needed. That's what Finn was all about. That's what has been repeatedly told to us over the last few years. But hey, it's Glee. Forget everything that has ever happened. It's a new world!!

Burt has prostate cancer. Can't they give the guy a break? And now Kurt should care about where Blaine goes after graduating? I wouldn't. But yeah, they're also best friends or whatever and Rachel isn't available so of course Kurt needs a friend at the moment. And friendship works both ways and the world moves on even though people get sick and so on and so forth...

Brittany and Sam... No. They just keep getting dummer. Thank God for Beiste. Although imo she could have said the next calendar ends in 2kwhatever. Instead she gave them two years? But lucky for us it's Glee. This will not effect their lives in any way. Like I said earlier: Forget everything that has ever happened. It's a new world!! Or maybe we should just believe that Brittany and Sam are too stupid or blonde or something to even remember the whole world-ends-in-two-years-thingy the next day.

Puck sr. annoys me. He always has. One day he's this awesome big brother giving advise and being a good person and the next he's the moron showing off and lying and acting like an idiot. And he always get's caught. It's nice that Jake has somebody though. Maybe Puck's not the best role model but at least he's family. And he's moving back so things are looking a bit better for Jake. Though hopefully we don't see more of Puck sr. The graduated students running around in their old school is just pathetic.

And finally Marley - and Sue. The bulimia storyline is still not that convincing. Shouldn't Marley first deny the whole problem? How about telling somebody about Kitty? (Yeah, yeah, everybody makes their own decisions.) But no, I didn't think Glee went for the "Christmas-is-canceled-due-to-Bulimia route". It's just a fact. The Rose family is poor. A therapist is expensive. I mean Marley uses some sort of lunch tickets (no idea, I'm from a different country) at school beacause they don't have money. Lucky for us Sue happened to hear everything. And christmas is the time for Sue to get soft. She always does in the end.

Parts of the episode were good, some made me laugh (Sue just makes me crack up everytime she opens her mouth.), some (almost) made me cry. As a whole I just didn't like it.
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couldn't agree more, my problem with the artie thing was how incorrect it was. finn was the one who got them to do don;t stop believing when will almost and quit and got their numbers for sectionals, the only time artie did something even a little important was the wheelchair episode. it sounds mean but if artie could walk... it wouldn;t make that much of a difference.
and it still pisses me off that kitty is still in the freaking club, she really just gets away with everything? that is NOT okay, even by glee standards. this is on the same level of wrong as if quinn had succeeded in getting beth back last year
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Hey does anyone know what's going on with the guy who plays Puck? I didn't watch last season, but he's looked a little rough this season. Dark circles under his eyes, and he seems to have put on a little weight as well? Not saying he looks fat or anything... he's just not in the shape he was a couple of years ago. He even avoided being shirtless in this episode's pool scene while his brother didn't. Is he touring or something that's been cutting into his sleep and workout schedule?
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I think age is catching up with him, people in their 30's can't play highschool students forever! Even last season he looked waaaaaaay too old to be playing one :)
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Although I do this this was the worst Christmas episode they've done, I didn't hate it. Just didn't love it. That said, I also think this was the funniest one they've done. It was full of so many really funny lines. "What do you get for the person who's eaten everything?" I loved the idea of a tribute to Love, Actually but I wish they'd stuck to that theme. Love, Actually wasn't a collection of vignettes, it was a bunch of individual stories that tied together at the end. I wish they'd done a bunch of little storylines involving how each couple/character spent the holidays and tied them together at the end and saved It's a Wonderful Life for next year because they really wasted it.
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Here's the thing about the "It's a Wonderful Life" storyline. The basic premise seemed to be "if Artie could walk, the world would suck" but everything they were saying suggested it was the non-existence of the Glee club that ruined the school. Quinn didn't have the glee club to support her, Shue drank because he didn't have the glee club to focus on, Rachel's dreams were crushed without the glee club. He could have joined the glee club with working legs too so I felt like it was kind of a weird message.

I didn't quite have the same reaction to the Marley storyline. I thought that was their strongest. I didn't like the way Marley's disease was treated last week where the general opinion seemed to be "way to be bulimic, hate you" but this week it made perfect sense. Marley had a problem, her mother was making her get help and on a lunchlady's salary, I don't see how she could have afforded both. Her mother wasn't trying to make her feel bad about ruining Christmas, it was just a casualty of her problem and I'm glad they treated it realistically as they don't always do that.
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few things:
this wasn;t as bad as the past glee christmas episodes, but watch the previous glee christmas episode, that;s really not saying much.
it sounds awful, but artie was never the "glue that held the group together". as much as people hate to admit it, watch the first year again, that was actually finn.
why does beiste keep encouraging brittany and apparently sam;s delusions? it;s like a couple of years ago when they kept brittany believing in santa, it;s one thing to coddle little kids, but brittany and sam are both of legal age, and as anyone who;s watched new girl can testify, the grown person acting like a child thing isn;t cute, it;s just kind of sad.
while i;m glad they acknowledged marley needs and is getting help, does it piss anyone else off kitty got away with EVERYTHING?
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I thought that too. Finn was always labeled the club's glue. He's the one that got everyone to band together, that's why he's teaching them now.
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Ugh. That's all I can say about this episode.
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I wanted to punch that episode in the face. First, the Artie debacle. I really don't see why his inability to walk would make the glee club stick together. Why would Rachel be different if she hadn't met Artie ? He never supported her. It was ridiculous and I find the "suffer so the others can be happy" moral awful.

Second, enough with making Kurt suffer. He must really love Christmas now, with the whole "let's talk about his dead mother", then Burt's cancer and then Blaine coming as a surprise.

And last, I liked the Puckermans storyline well enough and I feel like every Christmas Sue has the need to be good. Just to turn mean again the next day.

All in all, I didn't like the episode. Glee should let go of Holidays.
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" Why would Rachel be different if she hadn't met Artie?"

The girl has no existence when she isn't performing. Apparently, if Artie can walk, he'd rather be a jock than a singer, and so the glee club never forms. If the glee club never forms, Rachel never makes the transition from singing in the bathroom at home to singing on stage. Thus, she lacks confidence in herself and her stage presence, and takes on bit parts in community theater as the last vestiges of her dream to sing on Broadway. That's how.
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But in the pilot, before the glee club existed, she already had a lot of self confidence. And I'm sure she would have find a way to put together a glee club of some sort.
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wtf i hate bram so much
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I loved the Klaine storyline, except for the prostate cancer part - that just seemed totally unnecessary - and the Puck sr and jr one was ok, but the others just annoyed and/or bored me. Some good songs though.
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I thought the episode got a lot of things right. Marley's mom sacrificing Christmas was moving, whereas Sue's gesture was sweet but very uncharacaristic. I really hated the Wonderful Life thing with Artie. Really, Quinn died? Rachel never would shine? I've been begging for more Artie but this storyline was undeserving. He has never even got the chance to mean this much to the Glee club and now we're supposed to believe he's the glue that kept everyone happy? Though it was so awesome to see Rory and Terri again. And a mention of Coach Tenaka. Sometimes I think this show doesn't acknowledge actors or characters as if they mean anything.
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I don't think it's uncharacteristic. After four seasons I think it's obvious that Sue does care about her peers and the students, she just has a volatile temper. She always does something generous around the holidays. She donated all of her secret santa gifts and helped out at a soup kitchen in the past.
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I actually (pun fully intended) have very little to say about this episode. Good times all around, except for the fact that Kitty still isn't a pariah yet. See how great the show can be with minmal Rachel?
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My favorite exchange for this episode came at the end:

Marley: I asked Artie to get the Glee club together so that I could thank you.
Sue: Huh...it's a testament to how little you know me if you think this is something I would enjoy....

Ahh....love Sue.

This episode was pretty good overall (and, on a related note, HEY AISHA TYLER!!!). The Pucks "Oh, Hanukkah" was definitely my favorite song of the episode. And just in general, it was goofy enough to make up for last week's train wreck. Still kind of hoping Kitty gets hers, but as that is looking less and less likely, I guess I will have to let it go.
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Artie got bruised and becomes awkward on anything. But when he fell asleep, his dream is in black-and-white color and he walks. It is like a combination of a Season 3 Christmas episode and the Props episode. Of course, at the end, it is not true to know that Quinn got killed in a car accident to ruin the timeline.

Rachel did not sing at all in this episode and she has a few lines at the beginning. But in Artie's dream, she was wearing eyeglasses looking like a geek, but was she harassed by Artie in the meantime before falling backwards by accident?

Brittany and Sam should break-up in the next episode because Santana, might find out and punch Sam in the face!

I'm glad they still keep Tina on this show because we want her to sing more lead solos as best as she can. But the glee club member, who is considered pointless, is Sugar!

We know that the Warblers are in the Nationals this year, but if we hear news that they lost, then that's a good sign.

This episode is a little better than Season 3 Christmas episode, but it is not as great as the Season 2 Christmas episode. Although, it needs some more improvements and the story for the rest of this season needs to power up.

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Terrible episode.
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"Rich Little Impression"

How do you do an impression of a man known for only doing impressions?
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It's been my experience that nobody does impressions anymore, they just do impressions of other people doing impressions. Nearly every one I know does Dana Carvey's George Bush, Darrell Hammond's Bill Clinton, or Jay Mohr's Christopher Walken. I myself take it one step further...I don't do Ed Sullivan, I do George Carlin doing John Byner doing Ed Sullivan.
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The SNL cast still does (new) impressions on a regular basis. And I forget the guy's name who used to be part of Fox's pregame show did them, as well.
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Frank Caliendo? Yeah, I do him doing John Madden.
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