September 15, 2015
Fresh off of his flight to Tucson the night before his first U.S. stage performance of One Man Breaking Bad, Los Angeles actor Miles Allen’s animated personality shines through every word. He doesn’t end all of his sentences with “Bitch!” like his favorite character, Jesse Pinkman, but he is as high energy as you might expect from a guy who does a dynamic one-man parody of Breaking Bad.
Allen strings together impressions of all of the show’s main characters– Walt, Skyler, Jesse, Hank, Mike, Walt, Jr., and Gus– to reenact all 62 episodes of Breaking Bad in just one hour of lively entertainment.
One Man Breaking Bad first struck a chord with audiences during its premiere performances at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, and Allen’s one-man theatrics were such a hit at the festival that he added shows in New Zealand and Britain. Later, U.S. cities, including Charlotte, jumped on the bandwagon.
“It’s always what I’d been hoping for, for the show, to get a U.S. tour out of it,” Allen says. “I was going everywhere else but the U.S., it seemed like, the UK and Australia and New Zealand. This is sort of like a dream come true just to be able to perform, you know, for the home country and get to see some friends along the way. Yeah, it’s gonna be a great time.”
It’s easy to assume that someone making a name for himself by parodying characters of the show probably got started watching Breaking Bad from day one. But Allen admits that he was a little late to the party.
“Actually, I didn’t start watching Breaking Bad until the fourth season had already aired. I had just graduated college and was living in Los Angeles, an unemployed actor, and was like, ‘What am I gonna do with my time? I’ve heard a lot about this show Breaking Bad.’ So I just binge watched four seasons in about a month,” he laughs.
“Yeah, it was probably so unhealthy, but it was just so amazing. I was highly engaged with the show.”
So, how does a guy go from watching Breaking Bad as a loyal fan to performing a one-man version that recreates all of its essential characters? The transition began with a common pastime: shooting goofy videos.
“My buddies and I just finished watching the second to last episode of Breaking Bad. And I was doing the impressions of the characters for them, and they thought it was hilarious and accurate, so they shot a video,” Allen explains.
That video got more than 1.5 million views on YouTube and started the ball rolling toward what is now an international tour.
“I saw that,” he says, “and was just like, ‘It went viral! Cool!’”
With the knowledge that his renditions of the Breaking Bad characters were funny to more than just his circle of friends, Allen thought more about what he could do with his impressions.
“About a month after that I realized, okay people really love these impressions, I really love the show Breaking Bad. How could I put my acting and comedy impression skills to good use and keep the Breaking Bad flame alive?” he says.
“The show developed out of that, and a producer in Australia who had seen my video contacted me. They flew me over and it’s been a crazy ride ever since!”
His brand of humor had proven to evoke laughs from a broad audience, but why keep the one-man version for a stage show rather than adding more actors for a giant production?
“I think it’s cheaper for my producers,” Allen says, “and yeah, it’s definitely not an ego thing, I like community… I think it just helps with the novelty of it. It’s just me and I think it’s fun to watch the humorous, sort of multiple personality disorder unfold on stage.”
Allen’s humble confidence and comfort in performing alone in the spotlight didn’t come easy, it was a process that started when he was a child.
“My parents very much knew growing up that I could do voices. One time, I was doing impressions of one of my favorite cartoon characters– it was SpongeBob. My mom, like, yelled downstairs, ‘Miles, will you shut off the TV?!’ and I was like, ‘It’s not a TV, it’s me mom,’” Allen remembers.
He chuckles, “It’s sort of a weird validation for your skills.”
And that validation came at an important time in Allen’s childhood as he battled a force with which so many young kids and teens struggle.
“Actually, it came out of, well, I was heavily bullied while I was growing up all the way to middle school. And then I just kind of, out of that really dark place I started doing impressions, just as an outlet, something fun to do. People saw I was good at it and that was how I changed people’s perception of me from being social outcast to, oh, I’m a funny guy. I knew that when I could make people laugh, they were kind of on my side. “
“So, it came from a place of hurt and a darker place in my younger years to a cool ability,” Allen says.
That ability is now bringing him success and a loyal following. Even people who have never watched Breaking Bad attend Allen’s show and enjoy the comedy that comes alive on stage.
“‘Yo, bitch!’ is the first thing people usually say to me after the show, and then they proceed to tell me how much they enjoy the impressions. But some people even tell me that they’ve never seen Breaking Bad, but they loved my show so now they’ll go watch. I’d prefer the reverse, but whatever works is fine.”
Six seasons in one hour adds up to a lot of energy expended over a relatively short amount of time. Allen mentions that he doesn’t really need to exercise outside of his performances.
“Audiences enjoy it. I enjoy it. If I’m not sweating profusely after the show, that probably means I never performed it,” he laughs.
All of that energetic comedy, sweat included, comes to Charlotte on September 24 and 25.
Allen gets excited when he details just what is in store for the Queen City audience.
“They should expect to see their favorite Breaking Bad characters all impersonated by one goofy guy, on stage for an hour with sets, wigs, hats, explosions, all the bells and whistles. And definitely they will come away with, hopefully, having their stomachs hurt from all of the laughter.”
Catch ‘One Man Breaking Bad’ on Sept. 24th and 25th at McGlohon Theatre at Spirit Square.