If imitation is truly the sincerest form of flattery, then it must also be true that comedian and impressionist Steve Van Zandt really knows how to give a compliment. Best known for his dead-on vocal and physical impersonations of the famous, Steve’s comedy performances are an eclectic mix of uncanny impressions, original characters, and his own unique style of stand-up.
Today, Steve is regarded as one of the funniest and most talented acts of his genre on the comedy scene. Traveling throughout the U.S. and beyond, he dazzles and entertains audiences whatever the venue — comedy club, resort, casino, corporate event, or on stage aboard a cruise ship halfway around the world.
Born in Albany, New York and raised in its suburbs, Steve grew up smack in the middle of nine siblings, making any attention focused solely on him hard to come by. As a young boy he discovered he had a knack for mimicry. His first impression? His mom — speaking to her mom on the phone — in Italian. The bit would crack up the family, and got him the attention he so craved. Before long, Steve was imitating his teachers, his football coach — even his boss at the local Burger King. Before long he set his sights on tackling the vocal patterns of more famous subjects (Jackie Gleason, Bing Crosby and others), and by his late teens he had over 60 celebrity voices in his repertoire.
Steve’s first real taste of show biz came in the spring of 1978, when the then 19-year-old entered a local talent show and won the grand prize: an all-expense-paid trip to Hollywood to audition for “The Gong Show” on NBC. Of course, the ‘70's classic is best known for its outrageous acts and the bizarre antics of its creator and host, Chuck Barris. But Steve was chosen to appear on the show, and his performance wowed Barris and the celebrity judges. They awarded his act a perfect score—a very rare occurrence during the show’s four-year run.
Aside from a few stints doing his own morning-drive radio show, Steve has been performing full-time throughout the U.S. and beyond since 1991. That year he appeared on ABC TV’s “America’s Funniest People”; winning the runner-up cash prize. Other national TV appearances include “Show Me the Funny” on FOX and Canada’s “Comedy at Club 54” on TCN.
Over the years Steve has also opened shows for a wide variety of past and present entertainment icons — people like Henny Youngman, Debbie Reynolds, Michael Bolton, Willie Nelson, Howie Mandel and Weird Al Yankovic, to name a few.
In addition to the stage, Steve’s versatile vocal dexterity is a much sought-after commodity in the “voice over” industry. His has voiced many hundreds of radio commercials, TV ads, radio comedy bits and industrial projects — ranging from toys to a water park ride in Dubai. Some of his work in this area has won various regional and national marketing awards.
After seeing Steve perform at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, reporter Rick Joyce (Host of the syndicated radio show “On Location in Hollywood’) said, “Steve Van Zandt is an all-star line-up — all by himself!’’
Check out Steve for yourself, and see if you don’t agree.