It takes someone special to impress one of the big-name celebrity guests at Kansas City’s Planet Comic-Con convention at Bartle Hall.
Blue Springs resident David Babcock is that special someone – or, to quote his alter ego Ron Burgundy, he’s “kind of a big deal.”
Babcock, a graphic design artist and website builder for Liquid Soap Products LTD in Grain Valley, is one of the most sought after Ron Burgundy impersonators in the country. He also impersonates memorable Will Ferrell characters Ricky Bobby and Buddy the Elf, but it was his “Anchorman” persona that caught movie antihero Danny Trejo off guard.
Babcock had a booth at the event and heard that Trejo was signing autographs for fans, so he decided to pay a surprise visit. Trejo had a cameo role as a bartender in “Anchorman,” so Babcock slipped into Trejo’s meet-and-greet line to see his reaction.
“Oh my God, it’s Ron Burgundy!” Trejo cried out, as fans began to applaud the newest celebrity in their midst.
Trejo has a memorable line in the movie that is directed at Burgundy after he gets back on his feet following a down-an-out period.
“Danny the bartender sees Ron in the movie and says, ‘Dude, you clean up good,’” Babcock said, chuckling, “and when he saw me, that’s the first things he said when he met me. What a great testimonial. I think Danny was really surprised. I had no idea what his reaction would be, and it was even better than I could have ever dreamed of.”
Not all testimonials come from Hollywood stars:
• “As the vice president of sales for an event planning company in Las Vegas, I have worked with a lot of talent. We hired David Babcock as a Ron Burgundy impersonator for a corporate program at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego. He was a big hit. Not only did all of the attendees love him but he was very professional and a complete joy to work with prior to the program and on site. I would highly recommend using him if you are in need of any type of Will Ferrel character.” – Dorie Beacham, Las Vegas
• “Buddy the Elf was an awesome choice for our Holiday Open House! Our staff and customers enjoyed him so much! He took pictures, handed out candy canes and stickers, and stayed in character for the entire event! We are happy to highly recommend him to anyone for any event.” – Mike Balano, owner Balano’s Jewelry
• “So, so funny and spot-on. David came to our office Christmas party as Ricky Bobby to interact with our guests/clients. He stayed in character the entire time, was absolutely hilarious, and super responsive in communication from the time I contacted him until the time of our event. David is highly recommended as a ‘guest’ at your party.” – Natalie Levine-McCracken, account executive at SAGE
Egotistic anchorman Ron Burgundy, fictional NASCAR legend Ricky Bobby and the loveable Buddy the Elf have helped Babcock create a new career that fits in nicely with his work at Liquid Soap.
“I work a lot of weekends, and it’s all worked out well,” said Babcock, whose spot-on banter with fans at his Ron Burgundy booth was memorable and hilarious.
“Stay classy,” he called out two young fans who were dressed up as students of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. They immediately joined Babcock in his mock San Diego Channel 4 news room and posed for a photo.
“Where’s the jazz flute?” one Comic-Con guest asked.
Without skipping a beat, Babcock whipped open his jacket, produced the flute and delighted a crowd with a few tunes.
As a young woman, who was wearing a barely there costume and her boyfriend walked by his booth, Babcock – using his sexiest Burgundy baritone – purred, “I usually don’t do this, but I feel compelled to compliment you on your ...”
The boyfriend glared, and the young woman feigned a smile, as Babcock continued, “... I must compliment you on your hygiene.”
When Babcock ended his comment with “hygiene,” the man and woman laughed out loud and went on their way.
“A turn of a word or phrase can make all the difference in the world,” said Babcock, who watches “Anchorman,” “The Legend of Ricky Bobby” and “Elf” on a regular basis to keep in character for all three roles.
His second career began by accident a few years ago when he and his wife Linda dressed as Burgundy and his co-anchor Veronica Cornerstone for a Halloween contest.
“I went to the thrift store and got my suit, a coat and a paint roller I turned into a makeshift microphone,” he said. “When we got there, I became Ron Burgundy and interviewed everyone at the event in character. As it turned out, the winner of the contest was named by applause, and I got the most applause.”
His $20 thrift store investment turned into a weekend trip to New York and $500.
After that successful venture, he started working social network sites and was soon zig-zagging across the United States, attending corporate and private events in need of some levity and star power.
“I was even booked at a party in Hawaii,” Babcock said. “Now, let me tell you. That was classy, my friend.”
While he’s never met Ferrell, he anticipates what the meeting might be like.
“I’m sure he will be there with his lawyers and a cease and desist order,” Babcock said, in his best Ron Burgundy voice. “Really, I’d love to meet the guy. I think it would be a lot of fun.”