BY BARB BERGGOETZ
In his small, second floor studio, equipped with a sound system and microphone, Lance Fox retreats to hone his craft. That’s where he practices out loud his impersonations — from Larry the Cable Guy to Jerry Seinfeld and even Miss Piggy. It’s where he fine tunes singing like Elvis, rasping like John Mellencamp, and yelling like Bobby Knight.
Being a “virtual one-man crowd” may seem like an unusual gig for this longtime University Elementary School physical education teacher. But, for Fox, it’s a passion that offers a creative outlet. “I like making people laugh, and I like singing, too,” he says. A Bloomington High School South graduate and a former All-American pole vaulter at Indiana University, he adds, “The singing makes it more entertaining, more dynamic.”
Fox, 56, will perform at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater at 8 p.m. on July 25. His two-hour show is one of many shows he’s performed on his own, primarily in the Midwest and South, since starting his sideline work in 1980. He’s also opened for big names, such as comedians George Carlin, Tim Allen, and Brad Garrett.
For his Bloomington show, Fox says he’ll do some 40 singers from the ’50s through the 2000s, impersonate comedians, and do movie tributes of people in odd roles — like Saturday Night Live’s Church Lady playing opposite Humphrey Bogart in a scene from Casablanca.
Over the years, Fox has performed more than 200 impersonations — ranging from movie stars like Robert De Niro and Anthony Hopkins to television stars like Andy Griffith and Carroll O’Connor (as Archie Bunker) and comedians Joan Rivers and Rodney Dangerfield.
“I try to find people who appeal to everyone,” says Fox. “I’m trying to stay current, too. I never thought I would do Brad Pitt. But I was watching Inglorious Bastards one night and thought, ‘I can do that.’ A half-hour later, it’s there.”
Fox will sometimes practice voices in between classes at school or in his car. Occasionally, his students will ask him to do a voice and he’ll do ones they know, like Kermit the Frog or Tony the Tiger. Teaching and performing on stage complement one another, he says. “Being a stand-up comedian and onstage makes me comfortable teaching.”