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Class Clown turned Full-Time Comedian: A Conversation with Jeff Richards

Jan 04, 2018 04:00PM
By Cate Reynolds

Jeff Richards knew he wanted to be a comedian the second he realized he could make people laugh, but his greatest talent has always been impressions. His collection of spot-on celebrity impressions earned him a spot as a cast member on both Saturday Night Live (SNL) and MADtv, making him the first person ever to be casted on both sketch shows.

Richards is best known for his equally popular and hilarious “Drunk Girl” character, who was featured frequently as a guest on SNL’s Weekend Update.

“Working on Saturday Night Live and MADtv was always a lot of laughs. Just hanging out with the cast and celebrities was fun, and everyone was so cool to me. I loved it” – Jeff Richards

Since his time performing sketch comedy, Richards has started a new chapter as a stand-up comic. His life in stand-up comedy has taken him on tour across the country, performing in venues of all sizes, including the sets of Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn.

Jeff Richards will be performing on Friday, January 12th, 7 p.m. at Rams Head on Stage. If you’re craving a good laugh and good fun, this is a show you don’t want to miss!


How did you decide you wanted to pursue a career in comedy?

It was definitely when I realized I could impersonate my teachers and get laughs from the other students. That was the greatest feeling in the world.

Which comedians would you say have most greatly influenced you?

Bill Burr, Sarah Silverman, Robin Williams, and Eddie Murphy have all influenced me. I love how confident and fearless they are, and they’re all such great leaders. They made me strive for better material and helped me find confidence wherever I could.

You’re an extremely talented impressionist. Which celebrity impression is your favorite to perform? 

My favorite impression is Dr. Phil. He’s just a really fun one to do. I like his voice and his moustache - they beckon me to impersonate him. I simply can't help myself.

Tell me about your time as a cast member on both Saturday Night Live and MADtv. What was your favorite part about working on these sketch comedy series?

Writing the material was really fun. There was always a lot of laughs. Just hanging out with the cast and the celebrities was fun, and everyone was so cool to me. I loved it.

Were there ever any embarrassing moments or a time when things didn’t go as planned?

Most things went as planned while I was there. Sometimes in dress rehearsal things would go a little differently, and the writers and producers would rewrite sketches to take into account audience reaction and whatnot.

As a cast member on SNL, you were known for your recurring “Drunk Girl” character. How did you come up with this character?

That character is actually based on my father…just kidding! Mostly just going to bars in junior college led to this generalized impression.

Since your time doing sketch comedy, you have been touring as a stand-up comic. In terms of preparation and execution, how do sketch and stand-up comedy differ? Do you prefer one over the other?

I like stand-up because the show is basically just me and only I can take the blame. It’s stressful, but also more rewarding. Sketch is the most fun when everyone you’re working with is on the same page. Inventing and collaborating with others is also really great.

What can someone expect at one of your shows? What are you most looking forward to most about your Rams Head show?

People can expect lots of celebrity impressions, characters, and audience interactions. I don’t believe I’ve ever performed in Maryland before, but I’m looking forward to some seafood and some much deserved boogie boarding! I can’t wait to let loose and bottom up my shirt for some fireworks and general excitement.