On this edition of B-Side, imitation. What it means to do your best to be like someone else. Our show today in six acts (to be read in the style of a certain iconic radio personality). Act 1: Evil but not mean – a 30 year old marketing consultant becomes Austin Powers’ nemesis. Act 2: Polly wanna dictionary? Act 3: Bad Boys Gone Wild – impersonating an eighties hair band. Act 4: Faked Alaska. Act 5: Inside the Indian imitation industry. And Act 6: It’s a small world after all – our intrepid reporter goes ten thousand miles away only to find kids reciting Tupac. Originally aired in May 2004.
Dr. Evil: Jason Margolis
It’s human nature to pick up phrases and mannerisms from the people and pop culture around us. Like when you see a movie with a memorable character, and you figure out you have a knack for sounding just like them, and soon you just can’t stop. Kern Schireson is a marketing representative who occasionally morphs into Austin Power’s nemesis, Dr. Evil.
Birds: Mia Lobel
The art of vocal imitation is generally limited to human beings. But as it turns out – and people have studied this – birds are some of the best imitators of all.
Scorpions: Matt McCleskey
Why would a bunch of otherwise normal guys choose to cover songs by an eighties German hair band? Producer Matt McCleskey brings us this portrait of Bad Boys Running Wild.
Jr. Rock Stars: Dylan Hitchcock-Lopez
12-year old Dylan Hitchcock-Lopez reports from his hometown of Homer, Alaska, where he found some littler kids waiting for their big break.
Indian Call Centers: Jason Margolis
In India, a booming industry trains workers to sound American or British. On a recent trip to Bangalore, Jason Margolis spent some time with some young Indians learning to imitate people like him.
Namibia: Dave Gilson
A few years ago, Dave Gilson spent a year living in Namibia, a large but sparsely-populated country in Southern Africa. He taught sixth and seventh grade English in a small town in the middle of the desert. He lived at the school, as did most of his students. He’d brought a handheld tape recorder along, with vague hopes of sending audio postcards back home. But what he ended up with was a record of the many layers of imitation that happen naturally when cultures collide.