Funny character

RAGHAV MEHTA | Updated 1/10/2013

Impression ace James Adomian gets laughs in and out of character.

James Adomian

James Adomian has made a living being almost everyone but himself -- most of the time.

As a former contestant on NBC's "Last Comic Standing," guest star on Adult Swim's "Children's Hospital" and a mainstay on the ever-popular "Comedy Bang Bang" podcast, you've probably at least seen -- or heard -- Adomian.

In the wake of a particularly stellar performance at the West Bank's Cedar Cultural Center during the "Comedy Bang Bang" tour last July, Adomian is returning to Minneapolis for a five-night stint at Acme Comedy Co. beginning Tuesday.

He'll be performing standup at Acme, but the 32-year-old comic got his start in the improv world.

"That's still kind of my home theater in L.A.," Adomian said of the famed Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles, where he cut his teeth performing improv almost a decade ago. "I didn't get into standup until my early-20s when I found out who Bill Hicks was."

Currently based in New York City, Adomian released his impressive debut album, "Low Hangin Fruit," last year. The disc is a comedic maelstrom that showcases his penchant for joke writing and zany celebrity impressions that include Gary Busey, Westboro Baptist Church's Fred Phelps and former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura.

"I used to impersonate people a lot when I was very young," Adomian said. "But the good Lord gives us teachers to make fun of first [laughs]. And then, of course, by college I eventually graduated to a more sophisticated kind of comedy more people were familiar with."

What distinguishes Adomian from your garden-variety impressionists is the amount of personality he instills in every character. Each voice is presented with a fairly well-defined worldview, a testament to his skill as a comedy writer.

"I Google myself and I Bing myself, but only in private. I find it very comforting to Bing myself with a nice cup of eggnog," Adomian said via his spot-on Orson Welles impression last month on "Comedy Bang Bang," an example of the surreal bits he constructs for his characters.

And while impressions might be Adomian's forte, all his silliness is edged with a certain seriousness. As an openly gay comedian, he's never been hesitant to confront contentious socio-political issues such as gay marriage in his act -- even if some audience members seem visibly uncomfortable with it.

"I'm usually in control of the room but if I sense some kind of hostility, I address it," Adomian said. "Occasionally there are pockets of homophobia and it's not just the South -- it's all over the country."

Adomian's versatility as a performer and writer makes him one of today's most consistently unique standups. But even with his arsenal of characters and sharp "Low Hangin Fruit" hour, he knows laughs aren't guaranteed.

"The moment you think you're not funny, the next funny thing you think of is just around the corner. So you have to appreciate the natural breathing patterns, the ups and downs," Adomian said. "There are moments you're going to be hilarious and moments where you're going to be not so hilarious. That's just the way it works."