What does Mark Wahlberg have in common with Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, and Christopher Walken? Well, in addition to being fine actors, all are favorite subjects of impersonators. It’s easy to see why the star of the new Transformers movie — with his Boston accent, cocked head and piercing squint — is so fun to mimic.
We’ve rounded up the best-of-the-best Wahlberg impressions, and called on comedian Daniel Van Kirk (whose own sturdy Wahlberg-channelings can be seen on various YouTube videos and Doug Benson’s Doug Loves Movies podcast) to offer his expert judgment, via our Wahlberg-ized rating system:
(1) Max Payne-ful
(2) Some Pain, Some Gain!
(3) I Dirk Dig-It
(4) The Almost-Perfect Storm
1. Andy Samberg
"Say hi to your mother for me." It was on a popular Saturday Night Live sketch — “Mark Wahlberg Talks to Animals” — that Samberg forever stuck those words on Wahlberg’s back. (Who cares if the actor never uttered that line.)
Daniel Van Kirk Says: “Like the first guy who did a Christopher Walken impression, Sandberg kicked open the door for everybody else to follow. Slightly out of breath, raising his voice at the of the sentence, and getting high-pitched when he’s mad. Andy killed it.”
2. Ike Barinholtz
The comic actor does Wahlberg in the summer hit Neighbors, in our Q&A from SXSW, and while promoting Mindy Kaling’s book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
Daniel Van Kirk Says: “What Ike Barinholtz lacks in voice, he more than makes up for with the perfect squinty face and his humor. Ike is one of the funniest actors working today, with jokes like, ‘He’s not blood, he doesn’t count’ and ‘Go see this book.’ I could watch him do this character all day, even if the voice isn’t spot on.”
3. Public Excess
A comedian from this YouTube outfit imagines Walhberg spouting famous quotes (from non-Wahlberg movies) and nearly expires from the effort.
Daniel Van Kirk Says: “This is known as the ‘out-of-breath Wahlberg impression.’ My man has the cadence down and the voice is there. Only problem is, this type of impression only works when doing the gym scenes from Pain and Gain.”
Shot on mobile phone, the viral hit “Mark Wahlberg does cool things” has a father channeling his inner Wahlberg as he walks around the house.
Daniel Van Kirk Says: “It sounds great and has some really funny jokes! ‘Mark’ telling his daughter not to give him attitude, or his wife yelling at him while he cleans the toilet — it’s all great. The only thing missing for me is the ‘look.’ Going that extra distance would’ve easily made this a solid 4.”
5. Daniel Van Kirk
Our guest judge Daniel Van Kirk is the most prolific of all Wahlberg impressionists, with a running series on Nerdist’s YouTube channel. ”In the interest of fairness,” he explains, “I have asked my grandmother to rate this one.”
Grandma Van Kirk Says: “Oh Danny, I just love it! But I gave you a 3 for being mean to the checkout lady. Did you get my card? Yesterday, I saw cardinal outside in the feeder! And have you given any thought to moving back to Illinois? I saw Bradford Wilson’s mom at the Hallmark Store on Wednesday, and she says they’re hiring at Bradford’s work. Just so you know! Love you and see you for Thanksgiving this year, right? [”Thank you, Grandma.”]
6. Mark Walhberg
Even Wahlberg himself entered the arena, showing up on SNL to threaten Samberg (and of course, say hello to some mothers).
Daniel Van Kirk Says: “Starts out a little shaky, but all in all, Mark Wahlberg nails it with his “Mark Wahlberg” impression. The crossed arms, that intense whisper, the bobbing of the head, the two finger point, working out every day just to get that ‘Wahlberg” physique.” And he’s got jokes! But seriously, it’s fun when someone is ‘in on the joke’ and Wahlberg was great in this. One note for him though: Change the costume. Mark would never wear that. Long sleeves under a t-shirt went out of style with Third-Eye-Blind.”