Between the need to entertain a different crowd every night and all the time to kill in between tour stops, it makes sense that these all-time great country stars developed quite the arsenal of jokes. In these five cases, a legendary performer used his talents as a vocalist and guitarist to develop a comedic routine that pokes fun at other country singers.
This is more than your drinking buddy singing “On the Road Again” out of their nose or belting out the familiar opening line of “Folsom Prison Blues” in a gravely drawl. These five examples find famous singers fully committing to more than a one-liner, learning not just the voice but the songs and, in some cases, the mannerisms that helped make others into household names.
Comedians known for impressions, such as Johnny Counterfeit, fail to make the cut. As does Keith Whitley’s hilarious Lester Flatt voice, since it wasn’t shared in song. Instead, these examples show singers known for their more serious material flaunting a lesser-known talent.
Boxcar Willie as Waylon, Willie and Numerous Other Country Singers
As one of the all-time great vocalists in country music history, Boxcar Willie kept alive the songs and spirit of fellow railroad devotee Jimmie Rodgers. He also celebrated the humor of Grandpa Jones. Here, he goes all in with his impersonations of famous outlaws, complete with wardrobe changes.
Glen Campbell as Elvis Presley
Country boys turned international celebrities Glen Campbell and Elvis Presley blended musical talent and down-home charm to suit that era of television’s image of a superstar. In this clip, Campbell teases his fellow Southern-born showman’s mid-’70’s image and outfits.
Merle Haggard as Marty Robbins, Hank Snow, Johnny Cash and Buck Owens
Noel Haggard must’ve inherited his winning sense of humor from dad. Merle famously did impressions of some of his best-known peers in his live set. He shows off his comedic timing, only to get surprised by one of the men he impersonates.
Del Reeves as Little Jimmy Dickens
Although he’s less famous now than the other impersonators on this list, Del Reeves really had it all. He looked like a rock star, sang like a country chart-topper and often brought the laughs. Whether he sang novelty songs or imitated others, Reeves could match anyone in country music’s comedic chops.
Jim Reeves as Johnny Cash, Ernest Tubb and Several Others
The late Jim Reeves made his name as a smooth-voiced singer of heart-felt material. It turns out he was also a skilled impressionist. Here he imitates, in order, Ernest Tubb, Webb Pierce, Red Foley and Kitty Wells, Johnny Cash, Ferlin Husky and Lefty Frizzell.