Johnny Counterfit Doesn’t Disappoint

On June 16, 2007, a little before 7:30 p.m., I sat down in the auditorium of the Fine and Performing Arts Center expecting to be entertained. I had a good seat, K16, right in the middle of the orchestra level, and the seats were arranged with just enough slope that I didn’t have to worry about seeing over the head of the undoubtedly taller person in front of me. It was just prior to the time for the show to start and the house was already getting pretty full. I pulled out my pen and small spiral notebook to jot down my thoughts as the show began. By the end of the performance I found my notebook still pathetically empty for having been so wrapped up in watching the show that I forgot to write anything down. The performance I saw that night was from a man who calls himself Johnny Counterfit, and he did not fail to satisfy my expectation to be entertained. “He was wonderful!” said fellow audience member Wanda Jones of Sylva. “He sounded just like them.” Johnny Counterfit is a comedian, an impressionist, and a country music singer all rolled into one. Since the age of five when he discovered his talent for voices, Counterfit has been performing impressions of famous singers, actors, and even politicians. He has performed on national television every year since 1986. He claims over 200 voices in his ability, and has been called “the Rich Little of country music.” Counterfit began his show with singing politicians. Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, performing such appropriate numbers as “Stay Away From Me, Little Girl,” sounded as though they were both genuinely there. Counterfit then followed with duets of unusually paired singers, such as Elvis Presley and Jim Reeves, showing off his talent with a smile as he switched flawlessly back and forth between two very different voices for the same song. His renditions of well known songs and actors were peppered throughout with Counterfit’s own original songs and jokes. Counterfit’s songs often doubled as social commentary for the age, with such numbers as “Elbowcellphonitis” addressing the frustration of drivers with cell phones and “Send God An Instant Message, Everyday” bringing religion into the computer age. There were portions of the show where Counterfit encouraged the audience to sing along with him, and even took requests on the spot. (Though, as one particularly vocal audience member found out, he doesn’t do an impression of Dolly Parton.) There were bits of Rodney Dangerfield comedy, Johnny Carson doing his timeless “The Answer Is,” and even John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart reading poetry together. I am embarrassed to say that I did not entirely understand the majority of Counterfit’s jokes and impressions. I am not much of a country music fan, and it caught my attention as I was leaving the auditorium after the show that I was probably one of the youngest audience members there (at 21). I am sure there were many names and voices I did not recognize simply because of ignorance, but that did not take away in the slightest from my enjoying the show. As I was leaving I also noticed that the house had not completely filled up for the performance. This is a shame in that so many more people could have had a pleasurable evening of clean entertainment, but also understandable. The Western Carolina campus was at the time in between summer sessions, so not many students would have been on campus. Also, Counterfit’s conservative political songs might not have received such cheers with a more liberal student audience. But politics aside, Counterfit provides a genuinely enjoyable show that was a true compliment to WCU’s stage. For those who may have missed the performance and are still interested in seeing Counterfit on stage, or who managed to catch the show anyway and wish to see more, information and scheduled performances can be found on his website: