Live

Watch CBSN Live

Jay Pharoah on "SNL" impersonations, Katt Williams

Jay Pharoah is most well-known for impersonating other people on "Saturday Night Live," but that didn't stop customers from recognizing the comedian when he pranked them through the screen of a Pepsi Spire digital soda fountain.

Pharoah talked to CBS News about the stunt, what it's like to impersonate celebrities in front of them and which comedians he admires.

How did you pull off your Pepsi Spire prank?

I was approached by Pepsi to do it and Pepsi is like, my favorite drink and I love giving people a hard time, so when they talked about it and said, "You're going to surprise people," I was like, "Let's do it." I loved doing it. It was so much fun and with no hesitation I was like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I gotta do it -- yes, yes."

It looked like fun and the video was really in sync, like when you played "Pat-a-cake" with a customer.

My mom saw that and she said that was her favorite part, when I was playing, "Patty cake, patty cake." She was like, "Yeah, I can't wait for that to go out" and she doesn't say that about everything I do.

A lot of people recognized you, as well, which is cool because you're one of the youngest members of "Saturday Night Live." Do you get recognized often on the street?

I do find myself getting recognized a lot more, especially over the last month because of the videos of my impressions back to back on "Weekend Update." I get recognized, but I just got off the elevator this morning and this guy walked up before and walked back in and said, "It's not my floor, but I'm a big, big fan," -- and he said "Michael Che." And I said, "Come on dog, I'm not Michael Che." Hopefully they'll know me now as the Pepsi Spire guy.

You're famous for your celebrity impersonations but you've also impersonated a few celebrities in front of them, including Jay Z and Barack Obama. What is that like?

You always want to make sure people who have power approve of your portrayal of them so they don't get mad and put a hit out on you. Both of those guys like it, so it's no problem, but sometimes you're a little cautious. I really don't worry about it too much. No one's going to start some bull with me. They'll be like, "Alright, cool. I didn't like that. But you know what -- you keep it up."

Do you have any celebrities you've just been waiting to bust out, who you haven't had the chance to include in an "SNL" skit yet?

You never know. I've got over 150 impressions and you've seen probably like 50 of them on the show, so there's always more for me to do. I'm working hard on the Caucasian folks now and some of them are really spot-on.

A few weeks ago on "Weekend Update" you talked about a secret meeting of black comedians in Hollywood to solve the Katt Williams vs. Kevin Hart feud, and you impersonated a lot of legendary comics. Who do you admire the most?

A lot of those guys I look up to. Some of them, it's hard to look up to because they're shorter than me, but you know all of them have some type of influence. I knew Kevin, I met him like eight years ago. Katt, when I first started doing comedy, I was watching him. Chris Rock is definitely one of my idols. Eddie Murphy definitely had an influence on me since I was a little kid. Tracy Morgan -- I know him and respect him. He's one of my co-workers. And Bernie Mac -- R.I.P. to him. He's one of the guys I idolized as well when I was little.

Hannibal Buress is a friend of mine. Dave Chappelle is the nicest dude ever. I just performed with him at the Hollywood Palladium. Before he got on stage, he was like, "How were they, Jay? Did you get a standing ovation?" And I said, "Yeah," and he said, "I was going to be like -- 'Sorry about that Jay Pharoah," but he was kidding and he said good job. Everybody I impersonated -- there is some type of relation. I haven't met Katt yet, though.

Are you on a side with Katt vs. Kevin?

It's not funny to me. I feel like Katt Williams is a great comedian. We need to leave him alone. He's going through some mishaps right now and I hope everything goes well for him because I'm a fan of his. I think he's extremely smart and talented. Who knows. We don't know the situation. You can't look at a situation and be like, "Oh snap!" You gotta know the back story. There could be something going on there that we don't know. It's kind of sad to see. He's amazing.

Do you have more projects in the pipeline?

Yeah, I have a couple. I got a cartoon coming out with Comedy Central, I got two animated films, a film this summer. I'm doing my music thing. I'm working and talking with some big people about some productions I can't talk about, but there's a lot popping off in Jay Pharoah's life. It's like bacon on the table -- sizzling.

View CBS News In