Ryan Goldsher, 19, of Northbrook and a 2015 Glenbrook North High School graduate, won $10,000 for his celebrity impressions on the USA Network show “First Impressions,” a competition show featuring comedian Dana Carvey.
Goldsher’s win was revealed during a May 17 evening telecast. The comedian impressionist, a student at Pepperdine University of Malibu, California, was chosen over two contestants.
Award proceeds will help to finance his college education. Goldsher, a political science major, has a goal of working in the entertainment industry.
“Hopefully, I just keep performing,” he said.
Goldsher, known for film actor Morgan Freeman and U.S. President Barack Obama impressions, watched the program at home with family and friends.
“Some people do impressions of the president but it’s a heavy task to do it justice,” he said.
“I would say his impression of the president (Obama) is spot on,” said Linda Goldsher, Ryan’s mother, a Feng Shui consultant.
Comedian Jay Leno made a surprise show appearance, challenging the three contestants to do an impression of Leno, a former talk show host.
“It was scary having him (Leno) see me do an impression,” Goldsher said, with a smile.
During the show, Ryan Goldsher adlibbed challenge impressions and a solo rapid-fire performance where he offered multiple personalities.
He was also asked by Carvey to appear May 15 in Santa Monica, Calif. at the M.i. Westside Comedy Theater. Goldsher opened for Carvey.
“He was confident enough to let me do five minutes,” Goldsher said.
“He (Carvey) has already invited me to come back to do standup.”
Goldsher, who has been doing impressions since he was 6, said his craft was struck after appearing in a Glenbrook North High School variety show during his sophomore year.
“Goofing off in class, doing pranks on the phone, that was the foundation to learning impressions,” Goldsher said.
“He just likes to make people laugh,” said his father Steve Goldsher, who works in the printing industry.
Ryan Goldsher has two siblings, Leah Goldsher, 25, of Lincoln Park, Chicago, and Adam Goldsher, 21, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign engineering student.
In 2014, his family hosted a film screening party at the Wilmette Theater (1122 Central Ave.) in Wilmette to celebrate completion of Ryan Goldsher’s goal of seeing all 512 movies nominated for the Oscars Academy Award for “Best Picture.”
On a dare by his cousin, Ryan watched every movie made since 1927 nominated for the category.
While in high school, the teenager also met comedian Rich Little backstage in St. Charles after Little performed at Pheasant Run Resort.
“He (Little) gave some good advice, to always stay current,” Linda Goldsher said.
Fast forward to 2016 and Goldsher hit another personal best by demonstrating Freeman and Obama impressions plus celebrities Mark Wahlberg and Nicolas Cage on Carvey’s show.
“It’s kind of weird see that voice coming out of my body,” Ryan Goldsher said, of Obama.
“His (Obama) positive way of speaking, his swagger and confidence make it fun to do an impression of him.
“His timing leaves us hanging,” he added.
U.S. President Ronald Reagan is also a regular Goldsher impression.
“I happen to be a Ronald Reagan fan,” said Steve Goldsher, with a laugh.
“So I’m partial to Ronnie.”
In high school, his son was a student council class president all four years.
“Ryan is often presidential himself!” Steve Goldsher added.
But Obama is an oft-requested presidential impression.
“It’s really an honor to impersonate someone so widely respected who happens to be a United States president,” Ryan Goldsher said, of Obama.
He had a shout out and request to Obama.
“I know you have some free time coming,” Ryan Goldsher said.
“So come make me a proud Chicagoan and do stand up with me!”
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–Northbrook teen wins USA Network’s First Impressions competition —