Josh Robert Thompson

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Josh Robert Thompson
Josh Robert Thompson in 2011
Born (1975-03-11) March 11, 1975 (age 40)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
  • Actor
  • impressionist
  • comedian
Years active 2000–present
Known for The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
The Howard Stern Show

Josh Robert Thompson (born March 11, 1975)[1] is an American actor, voice actor, impressionist, and comedian. Thompson is known for his celebrity impressions, including Robert De Niro, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wilford Brimley, Willie Nelson, Sylvester Stallone, Matthew McConaughey, and Morgan Freeman. He is best known for his work on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, providing the voice of robot skeleton Geoff Peterson along with numerous characters and impersonations, as well as his celebrity impersonations on The Howard Stern Show and Family Guy.

Early life[edit]

Thompson grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, "raised by classic television." He would watch as actors became different characters and began to mimic them. At age eight, his grandmother bought him a Fisher-Price tape recorder that he used to create radio-style "shows", voicing the host and the guests. The following year, he performed on stage in Peter Pan at the Cleveland Play House.

During his junior year at Padua Franciscan High School, Thompson delivered one line for the school's production of Oklahoma! and walked off to laughter and applause. "Then someone backstage said, ‘They're clapping for you. They love you.' After that, I was hooked." Thompson and some of his classmates got a video camera and began making feature-length and short films, and television-style shows. He graduated from Padua in 1993.

Thompson moved to Los Angeles a few years later and performed on local television and as a stand-up comic while working toward his degree in TV, Radio and Film Production at California State University, Fullerton. He uses his middle name professionally because a "Josh Thompson" was already registered with the Screen Actors Guild.[2]


Radio appearances[edit]

Thompson's Arnold Schwarzenegger impression first gained national attention during the California gubernatorial recall election of 2003. Posing as Schwarzenegger, Thompson phoned in to Fox News Channel's morning program, Fox & Friends, fooling the hosts into believing (at least for a short while) that he was, in fact, Schwarzenegger.[3]

Thompson's Fox News prank caught the attention of The Howard Stern Show, and the impression—dubbed "Fake Arnold" by the show's producers—soon became a mainstay on the program.[3] At around the same time, Thompson also made a number of appearances on the Conway and Steckler and Conway and Whitman radio shows in Los Angeles (KLSX), and 96fm's Breakfast show in Perth, Western Australia, where he voiced a number of characters, including Fake Arnold, Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone, Michael Jackson, and Bill Cosby.[3]

The Howard Stern Show[edit]

In April 2005, Thompson's Fake Arnold character proposed a fictitious plan to "blow up the moon".[3] Fake Arnold's phony agenda managed to dupe MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, who appeared soon after on his television program, publicly lambasting the Governor for his alleged plan.[4] Ten days later, after learning that the entire moon destruction scenario was a hoax, Scarborough apologized on-air for his erroneous comments.[4]

On January 10, 2006, one day after Stern's show debuted on Sirius Satellite Radio, Thompson fooled Star Trek actor George Takei into believing he was actually speaking with Governor Schwarzenegger. Several minutes after the phone call with Fake Arnold ended, Takei was finally let in on the joke. One year later, the Takei prank was ranked sixth out of the Top 10 best moments from the show in 2006.

Television work[edit]

The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson[edit]

See also: Geoff Peterson

In February 2007, Thompson made his first on-camera television appearance as Governor Schwarzenegger on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS. He become a regular performer on the show, making appearances as Robert De Niro, "Frat Guy", Brian Deese, and Levi Johnston, and as the voice of Morgan Freeman.

Starting on April 20, 2010, Thompson voiced Ferguson's robot skeleton sidekick Geoff Peterson, originally using pre-recorded clips of various reactions to the host's cues. Thompson tweeted his "recipe" for Geoff's voice in September: "1 part Snagglepuss. 1 part Vincent Price. 2 parts George Takei."[5] On May 16, 2011, Thompson performed Geoff as a show guest; in a later skit spoofing the show's opening broadcast, Thompson portrayed Peterson as a living sidekick who suggested that Ferguson could reanimate his skeleton should something befall him while skydiving.[a] Beginning June 29, 2011,[6] Thompson voiced and performed Geoff live for nearly every episode, both in-studio and in such locations as Paris, France.[7]

Once Thompson began voicing Geoff Peterson live, he incorporated several of his own impressions into the character's repertoire. He has performed his Morgan Freeman impression for Freeman during the actor's appearances. In June 2011, Geoff asked Freeman, "Would you like to hear my Morgan Freeman voice?" and "What would you like to say to yourself?". Freeman gave the impression a thumbs-up and called it "outstanding".[8]

In 2014, Thompson took over as the voice and operator of Sandra Peterson, the remote-controlled rhinoceros head that hangs over the fireplace.[9][b] The character was originated by actress Dana DeLorenzo.[10]

Craig Ferguson told Larry King Now in 2014 that he and Thompson will continue to work together after leaving The Late Late Show in December. In the interview, Ferguson called Thompson a "comedic genius".[11]

Solo projects[edit]

Thompson began working on his first television series while still on The Late Late Show. The first installment, dubbed WJRT Television, starred Thompson alongside Dana DeLorenzo in a television news show parody. While some episodes were uploaded to Funny or Die, the series was not sold to a network.[12]

The Josh Robert Thompson Show[edit]

In 2014, Thompson announced plans for an upcoming variety show, The Josh Robert Thompson Show. Its pilot episode was completed through a crowdfunding campaign via Indiegogo.[13]

Other work[edit]

In 2010, Thompson appeared in advertisements for More Than insurance, doing his Morgan Freeman impression. In the advertisement, Thompson's character is named More Than Freeman.[14]

Thompson began hosting a podcast, Joshin' Around (first titled Driving Myself Crazy), in 2013.[15]

Original characters[edit]

Thompson's original creations include crooked televangelist Apostle BG, and Gary the Gay Eurotrash Ogre. He also puppeteers such characters as Darnell Jenkins the Goblin, Feldman, and Snorky the Mexican Raccoon.




Video games[edit]



  1. ^ A video with no authorization data has been uploaded to YouTube.
  2. ^ The character's return occurred during a Tweets and E-mails segment in January. A video with no authorization data has been uploaded to YouTube.


  1. ^ Stallsmith, Shelly (March 11, 2013). "Good Morning, Central PA: DDB Has Been Serving ... (Today's birthdays)". The Patriot-News (Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania). Retrieved January 13, 2015. 
  2. ^ "The Paduan (Summer 2011)" (PDF). pp. 4–8. Retrieved October 31, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Can I Have Your Autograph Please? - Fake Arnold". Dean's Planet. Archived from the original on February 4, 2010.  via Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b "Host Gets Fooled By Arnold Impersonator". The Radio Equalizer. 
  5. ^ "Josh Robert Thompson on Twitter". Twitter (official). September 1, 2010. Retrieved October 31, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Josh Robert Thompson on Twitter". Twitter (official). June 29, 2011. Retrieved October 31, 2014. 
  7. ^ Wick, Krista (August 1, 2011). "Craig Ferguson and Kristen Bell Tape The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson In Paris". Archived from the original on August 18, 2011. 
  8. ^ Best Morgan Freeman Impression EVER. YouTube (Josh Robert Thompson official channel). June 10, 2011. Retrieved October 31, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Yes, I'm voicing Sandra the rhino. No, I don't like the voice, either.". Facebook (jrtcomedy official). January 23, 2014. Retrieved October 27, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Share photos and videos on Twitter". Twitpic. Retrieved 2012-10-20. 
  11. ^ I'm Not Retiring. YouTube (Larry King Now official channel). July 23, 2014. Retrieved October 31, 2014. 
  12. ^ "WJRT Television". Funny or Die. Retrieved 28 January 2016. 
  13. ^ "The Josh Robert Thompson Show". Indiegogo. Retrieved 28 January 2016. 
  14. ^ Sharp, Rob (11 February 2011). "Insurance salesman who's created more than an advert". The Independent. 
  15. ^ "Joshin' Around by Josh Robert Thompson". iTunes. Retrieved 28 January 2016. 

External links[edit]