Impressionist Rich Little agreed to perform for just 12 weeks at the Laugh Factory at Las Vegas’ Tropicana — but that was back in 2015! Today, he’s still performing several times a week by popular demand. The legendary comedian even broke the record for the longest-running one-man show in Sin City.
Of course, Rich is never alone in his act. The Canadian-born performer is famed for the hundreds of spot-on celebrity impressions he’s been honing since childhood. “I didn’t think I’d still be working at my age,” Rich, 84, confesses to Closer. To stay in shape for the stage, he swims and rides a stationary bike every day. “I say to myself that I can’t keep going forever, but as long as I’ve got my health, and people come and enjoy the show, that’s an inspiration.”
Current events also keep his live show fresh. “It’s good to change things every once in a while — it keeps the mind active. I watch the news a lot and keep up-to-date on what’s going on,” says Rich, who officially became an American citizen in 2010. He has added impressions of both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump to his lineup. “Trump is not one of my best impressions, but it goes over very well,” he says. “And Biden actually gives me new material every day!”
While Rich hasn’t gotten feedback on his impersonations from the most recent residents of the White House, late President Ronald Reagan had been a great fan. “He really loved my impression of him,” says Rich. “He said, ‘Rich, I think you do me better than I do. You do me so good that when I pass away, they should bury you!’”
Rich has fun recounting this and other stories about his celebrity friendships in his act — like the time he tried to teach Jimmy Stewart how to do an impression of himself! “That was one of my favorite routines I did on The Dean Martin Roast,” says Rich, who appeared on the show many times. Of course, not every celebrity saw the humor in Rich’s act. “Paul Lynde of Hollywood Squares never liked my impression of him,” recounts Rich. “He would make a terrible face, look into the camera and say, ‘Who is he doing? Who is that? Get a day job!’ Let’s just say that he was not a fan.”
Rich, who is divorced and resides in Las Vegas with a one-eyed cat named T-Bo, also includes his own charcoal sketches in his current show. “I’ve sketched and done portraits since I was 15,” he explains. “I don’t think I’m brilliant at it, but they’re pretty good. I’ve done hundreds of pictures of celebrities and friends. Most of the people I impersonate I have also drawn.”
Although his Las Vegas audiences tend to skew older, the comedian is often surprised by the young people who come out and enjoy his show. “The average young person doesn’t know who John Wayne or Jimmy Stewart are,” he says. “Once in a while, I’ll get somebody young who knows everybody I do. It’s just amazing.”