Chances are, if you tuned in to the premiere episode of NBC's sitcom spoof The Rerun Show last night, it was to see actor-comedian Paul Vogt's hilariously goofy imitation of Mrs. Garrett the character Charlotte Rae originated on Diff'rent Strokes and then spun off on The Facts of Life. Believe it or not, Rerun marked Vogt's first experience channeling TV's most lovable house mother.
"I had never done Mrs. Garrett before the audition," he tells TV Guide Online. "They gave us a bunch of [scripts] from TV shows and said, 'Go ahead and pick two characters you think you can do well.' And for some reason, Mrs. Garrett struck a note with me."
Vogt who says producers must have realized that "a large man playing Mrs. Garrett was funny" studied old Life episodes to master Rae's unmistakable manner of speaking. "Also, there was a website that had some sound bites, so I started there," explains the funnyman, a longtime Disney theme park entertainer who has guest-starred on such shows as Chicago Hope and Maximum Bob. "All of a sudden, I found that I could do the voice."
The ultimate judge of that, of course, would be Rae herself. "They tried to get her to guest star on one of our shows, and I was so pleased that they didn't," Vogt confesses with a laugh. "I think she's great, but it would have just made me a nervous wreck to be portraying her opposite her. But from what I understand, she's got a great sense of humor."
Mrs. Garrett isn't the only sitcom icon in Vogt's bag of tricks. In coming weeks, he will portray Chris Partridge ("the dark-haired drummer"), Ozzy Osbourne, and in a wild twist, Tiffani Thiessen's Saved by the Bell character Kelly as if she were Star Wars' hearty hairball Chewbacca. His dream role? "I would love to play Blossom," he says. "That show cracked me up. They always did these life-changing situations in such a goofy way. I would love to be able to spoof that."
Mayim Bialik, consider yourself warned.
Next week, The Rerun Show airs Tuesday night at 8:30 pm/ET.