Not all of his characters consist of celebrity caricatures. One long-running recurring character is named Blind Mississippi White Boy Pig Feets Dupris, an old blues musician from Louisiana. "Feets" employs a harmonica to accompany his vocals on the "Imus" show. He often takes credit for writing songs or for having instituted, decades ago, innovations in American popular music that have been widely attributed in most music histories to African-American rhythm & blues, jazz and blues musicians.
Rob writes all the material he performs on the Imus show, as well as the lyrics to all of the song parodies the show has become famous for over the years. The lyrics often comment on current news items or societal phenomena. For example, the Bartlett character "Rush Limbaugh" sometimes expresses his commentary in song. An example from the years of the Clinton Administration was the "Limbaugh" criticism of the alleged ultra-feminist or unfeminine tendencies of First Lady Hillary Clinton in "The First Lady is a Tramp", a parody of Frank Sinatra's version of "The Lady is a Tramp". Somewhat later came another example of a "Limbaugh" song, a holiday parody of the Burl Ives version of "A Holly Jolly Christmas". "A Robert Downey Christmas" was about seasonal and celebrity drug use and dysfunction.
Bartlett has been appearing on the "Imus" show, beginning on New York's WFAN-AM (660) radio, since the late 1980s, and now on WABC-AM (770) radio. His earlier characters included Arnold Schwarzenegger, Manuel Antonio Noriega, and fictional Japanese comedian "Buddy" Miyagi.
For a brief stint in 1993, Bartlett was one of the three original hosts of the "WWF Raw" broadcast team, along with 'Macho Man' Randy Savage, and Vince McMahon. His final appearance on the professional wrestling program was April 19, 1993.
Bartlett continues to be in demand for his stand up comedy. He makes annual appearances in venues throughout the Northeastern United States.
Bartlett is also an accomplished stage actor. He made his Broadway debut in 'More to Love', which he wrote and starred in, with Dana Reeve and Joyce Van Patten. In 1999 he starred in 'Tabletop', for which he received a Drama Desk Award. His other roles include Amos Hart in 'Chicago the Musical', Herman in 'Sweet Charity' with Christina Applegate, originated the role of Mr. Mushnik in the Broadway production of "Little Shop of Horrors', and most recently played Speed in the Nathan Lane/Matthew Broderick revival of Neil Simon's 'The Odd Couple'. On television, in addition to a number of national commercials, he had a recurring role as Defense Attorney Milton Schoenfeld in 'Law and Order S.V.U.', and most recently, has guest starred on 'Ugly Betty' as Troy, the Security Guard. He was the voice of Marty the Dog in the hit animated children's show 'Kenny the Shark'. His film roles include 'Table One', 'Spin the Bottle', 'The Sex O'Clock News' and voiced Boss Baker Bunny in the animated films and commercials. His comic essays can be found on his website: robshow.com as well as on Imus' official website, Imus.com.
Bartlett fell ill prior to the Monday, August 25, 2008 broadcast of Imus in the Morning when he lost consciousness and was taken to St. Vincent's Hospital. He was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism, with a blood clot that lodged between both lungs after having passed through his heart. After his recovery, he became a print spokesperson for the hospital, where his face can be seen on posters throughout New York City.
In 2011, he will return to Broadway in the revival of How to succeed in business without really trying, playing the roles of Twimble and Wally Womper.