Daniel Ferguson hit on a good strategy when he appeared on the auditions for America’s Got Talent 2017. Ferguson included Simon Cowell in his performance with a brief, gentle parody that amused all of the judges including Cowell. I’m not sure that Ferguson would have made it through the auditions, were it not for his inclusion of Cowell.
Daniel Ferguson is a voice impressionist. For his audition he sang Cake by the Ocean by DNCE in the voices of, in order, Goofy, Scooby-Doo, Kermit the Frog, Peter Griffin (the animated protagonist of Family Guy), Simon Cowell, and Mickey Mouse. As Ferguson sang each impression, an image of the characters appeared on the rear screen.
The Simon Cowell interlude is the primary reason that YouTube viewers return to the video. To be honest, were it not for the projected images, I’m not sure that I would have guessed the subjects of the impressions, other than Cowell and possibly Kermit. This is not so much a comment on Ferguson’s ability to mimic voices, as much as I simply couldn’t imagine most of the characters singing Cake by The Ocean as harmoniously as they do in the sketch. And where are the character’s catchphrases?
No “Scooby Dooby Doo!” and no “Hot dog, hotdog, hot diggity dog” or any other Mick and Goof tropes? It is difficult to comment on Daniel Ferguson’s skill as an impersonator when the characters seem out of character. Kermit has a good singing voice and sings a wide range of songs, so that part is fine. The Simon interlude is more spoken than sung and fits Simon’s persona, so it works. It’s the other characters that make me want to hear Ferguson do straight-up impersonation. So here we go:
The Harry Potter video, above, was posted by Ferguson on the day before he appeared on the judges’ cut on AGT 2017. He posted the video to mark J.K. Rowling’s birthday (July 31). For the judges’ cut, Ferguson chose Sugar by Maroon 5. This time his impressions included Marge Simpson, Gollum from Lord of the Rings, and Bobby Generic, a character voiced by Howie Mandel in Bobby’s World, an animated kid’s show created by Mandel. Unfortunately Daniel Ferguson did not make the cut.
Daniel Ferguson was 23 years old when he appeared on AGT. Born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, Ferguson completed a bachelor’s degree in communication studies at Kent State University. Thereafter he worked as a sales rep for WMAN Radio, which is affiliated to iHeartMedia. Ferguson says that his interest in impressions first emerged when he was on the speech and debate team in high school. He started working out voices for the Mad Hatter & other Disney characters, as well as Looney Tunes and SpongeBob characters. Shortly after his AGT audition he said, “I’ve always watched cartoons. Even now I probably watch more cartoons than the average 23-year-old should.”
After AGT, Ferguson has leveraged his TV exposure to build up his YouTube channel. He currently has 301K subscribers and 142 videos. His most popular video is his version of Bad Guy by Billy Eilish & Finneas O’Connell. It has 18M views. That’s impressive!
Ferguson’s AGT audition was his first public performance. According to Ferguson, his inclusion of Simon Cowell in his act was basically a last-minute decision. “I kind of tweaked it from another voice I was going to do, and I wasn’t sure what the judges’ reaction would be. But then I saw them all look at Simon and he smiled.” Yikes! Without further ado, grab yourself some Scooby snacks. It’s time for Daniel Ferguson’s viral-video interpretation of Bad Boy: