By Tyana Campbell
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
He’s not your average student; he’s the guy who wears a neat comb over with a dark grey hoodie, a Beatles’ T-shirt, khaki short and flip flops. He’s also the guy who is known for his impersonations.
Kurt Vogelberger is a 22-year-old Towson University senior who spends the bulk of his free time mimicking the voices and behavior of virtually any actor or cartoon characters that come to mind. His hobby developed naturally.
“My impersonations largely started in elementary school,” said Vogelberger, remembering the days when he attended Warren Elementary School in Cockeysville.
“I’ve always had a big imagination and was very good at remembering cartoon quotes and jokes and such and could roughly imitate some character voices and other noises when I played at recess,” he told The Baltimore Watchdog. “I also loved to sing all the time and was really into Elton John, the Beach Boys, and SpongeBob songs.”
“Nothing was ever really defined, I think, until the movie ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’ came out,” he said.
Vogelberger said he first began singing along with Alvin and the Chipmunks in 2007, but by the time he began the 4th grade, he was able to gain a lot of attention from students and faculty in school. He said he remembers specifically being able to blow away some camp counselors one summer with his skills.
“It started off by singing for fun just for my love of Alvin and the Chipmunks,” said Vogelberger. “I got so good at it that I sang for my camp counselor one morning and he ended up making me sing for the entire camp. I was embarrassed to be put in the spotlight with little to no confidence whatsoever.”
By the time Vogelberger began attending Cockeysville Middle School, adolescence had kicked in and reduced his flexibility and voice range. He said he had to quickly adapt to those changes and find impressions that didn’t involve childish characters. Once he started to develop and practice his new voice impressions, Vogelberger said he added a British accent and Christopher Walken impressions to his repertoire.
The impressionist’s robot voice “Oddyssey” came into play during his freshman year at George Washington Carver Center for the Arts and Technology in Towson. He worked on his deep voices and very high-pitched voices. His more advanced impressions developed during his time in college.
Vogelberger said he impressed many teachers and professors over the years at Towson, where he studies Electronic media & Film.
“I don’t recall what the first impression was that he did for me,” said Lynn Tomlinson, Electronic Media and Film professor at Towson, “but I think my favorite is Oddyssey, the robot’s voice. He manages to make it sound quite authentic.”
Vogelberger explained, “I do a lot of the voices for people around campus and even in the Baltimore community. I get it all the time that I should be a voice actor, voice cartoonist, the voice of a video game character, or even on the radio.”
“I do these voices because people tell me that they sound good, if it wasn’t for the encouragement of others, I wouldn’t do them,” he said.
Among the voices now performed by Vogelberger are Scar from “The Lion King,” Rick and Morty, an American cartoon sitcom, Pikachu from Pokemon, Stitch from “Lilo and Stitch,” SpongeBob, Chewbacca, Shaggy, Elmo, Smeagol/Gollum, the Chipmunks. And then, there are impersonations of Steve Irwin, John Lennon and many more.
“The first impression I ever heard him do is probably the Spongebob laugh,” said Shawn Drinan, Jr. “He’s pretty good at that and it’s easy to throw it into a conversation.”
Certainly though, not everyone is a fan, some just don’t like or get the impressions, he said. There were times when Vogelberger said his impressions were denied. After auditioning his voices for Towson’s homecoming talent show last year, he said that judges quickly denied his act.
Vogelberger said he wants to turn his hobby into a career one day, merging his strong writing skills with his voice impersonations for television.
“As long as it gets a laugh or turns a head in a good way, I’ll just keep on doing them and I’ll keep picking them up as I find I can do them,” said Vogelberger. “I will have fun with it wherever it takes me.”