Whether you favour the deadpan snarl, the nasal whine or the tremulous skip from cockney barrer-boy to booming drama queen, we’ve all got a Bowie we pull out at parties. His inimitable style, iconic look and innovative vocals made him one of those iconic personalities that everyone thought they could do a pretty decent impression of.
Most of those people were wrong. But there are a few good takes on the Dame out there, with a number of comedy greats giving their best Bowie tribute and coming out looking more Ziggy than Twiggy. Here are the best of the Bowie apes.
For such a savage satire of ’80s politics and celebrity culture, Spitting Image’s take on Bowie was remarkably restrained and unhistrionic, more like the man himself than a million karaoke starmen.
In Stella Street’s fantasy suburbia where Jack Nicholson, Michael Caine and Jimmy Hill all live on the same Surbiton street and Mick’n’Keef run the corner shop, Spitting Image alumni Phil Cornwell took the role of Bowie, caught karate kicking through the serious moonlight in his white suit, panama hat and loose bow tie era. An uncanny caricature.
Flight Of The Concords
Bowie reportedly turned down the chance to play himself in Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement’s spoof ‘Bowie In Space’, in which ‘Space Oddity’ Bowie communicated from ground control with ‘Diamond Dogs’ Bowie, who was floating around Pluto transmitting his signals back to Earth via his distended nipples.
Adam & Joe were rampant Bowie obsessives, often frothing on air about his life, work and goblin alter-egos with Buxton channeling the Zigster via an impressive impression that largely consisted of saying “wuzza wuzza” in a way that often teetered dangerously close to Jimmy Saville.
Ross, Joey and Chandler all had a crack at the Bowie quiver over the course of the 3.1 billion episodes of Friends, with varying results. Chandler and Joey might as well have been doing Norman Wisdom but Ross’ take had a brief spark of Ziggy’s lizard enigma.
Scottish US TV host Ferguson provided one of the best Bowies on screen by imagining the great man stealing his mother’s underwear and constantly namedropping dinosaurs. Faultless.
Despite Charlotte Church criticizing his “weird tongue thing” and at times looking as though he’s having a stroke, Jonathan Ross’ 2010 take on ‘Ashes To Ashes’ didn’t come off too bad.
Long before he convinced Bowie to appear on Extras singing a song of sublime abuse towards “chubby little loser” Andy Millman, Ricky Gervais proved his fandom in a proto-Office 1998 Comedy Lab show in which he played a frustrated video game shop manager trying to forge a second life as a Bowie impersonator. “I’ve not so much followed in his footsteps as walked beside him,” he Brents before donning the full Aladdin and doing a cracking ‘Space Oddity’ on the boardroom table.
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Another underplayed Bowie arrived as a gift from Funny Or Die at Christmas 2010, a recreation of the classic Bowie’n’Bing duet on ‘Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth’ with John C Reilly playing Crosby and Will Ferrell, thankfully refraining from jazz flute, as Dave. Their remake of Bowie’s 1977 appearance on Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas only widely varied from the original towards the end. Embedding disabled, so click here to watch.