Frank Caliendo Up Close and Personal

Caliendo discusses his career and new projects

Hailing from suburban Milwaulkee, the former broadcast journalism major is best known outside of the stand-up circuit for his work on Fox’s Mad TV and as a commentator on NFL Sunday. During his time on the sketch comedy show Mad TV, Caliendo became popular for his impressions of such diverse figures as George W. Bush, Robin Williams, Rod Roddy, and John Madden and he will be combining his talents for impressions and stand-up comedy in an upcoming sketch show that will air on TBS.

DC Scene:What do you do during the daytime during performance days? Do you sightsee? Meet up with friends in the city? Practice?
Caliendo: I end up working… doing press. My life is constant work. I’m always trying to get the word out there about a new project (like my TV show for TBS), I’m promoting shows (like the ones at D.C. Improv) or the fact that I’m back on Fox NFL Sundays this year.

DC Scene: I take it you're a football fan. I know that Wisconsin has a large tradition of football, but you might be surprised to know that Washingtonians are more into football than any other sport. I am probably the only person in the D.C. metropolitan area who doesn’t follow the Redskins. Why do you think football is the #1 sport in many American cities over baseball and basketball?
Caliendo: There are fewer games and each game is more important to the team’s season and also players are in danger every single play. There’s definitely excitement to that; it’s like being a modern day Gladiator. The NFL is a master at marketing too. They’re amazing

DC Scene: Have you been to Washington D.C. before? and if so where were you performing?
Caliendo: Absolutely, been there 3 or 4 times. I was at the Improv…and I also did some comedy for the congressional correspondents dinner in April of 2006

DC Scene: Do you also mind telling us what a congressional corresondent's dinner is and how it went?
Caliendo: Its for the press and congress. It went extremely well.

DC Scene: Growing up in Milwaulkee, Wisconsin, did you go on a class field trip to D.C.?
Caliendo: No, I didn’t…I always thought that was just something people did on TV….apparently I was wrong. .

DC Scene: One of your highlights on Mad TV was a music video parody of The Black Eyed Peas’ “My Humps” with a special guest appearance by President Bush (played by you). Was that your idea?
Caliendo: The writers brought it to me and I thought it would be fun. I’m not a good singer, so I didn’t do a lot of music video stuff. I’m not sure if I even did another one. I wish I had a better story for you. I wasn’t in love with the idea of doing it, but I’m glad that I did because it turned out to be pretty decent..

DC Scene: Did you know when you first got into stand-up comedy that you wanted to do impressions or did it just work out that way?
Caliendo: I just wanted to make people laugh and succeed so I just went with what I did best.

DC Scene: I just briefly glanced at the cast list of Frank TV on imdb, and was wondering how you went about selecting those people?
Caliendo: There’s no real cast right now. There were people that were in the pilot with me but they’re not official “cast members.” We are going to try and get the best people to do the show that we can with the resources that we have.

DC Scene: It seems as though your stand-up routine inspired the skits I see on the TBS website for your show. Your routine has that great joke about how President Clinton can lie to your face and say "I am not here" and get away with it, and I imagine that was the basis for your Clinton sketch. Is your material for stand-up comedy often fueled by impressions you want to be able to work in?
Caliendo: The show is basically taking how I’ve created my act and turning it into sketches. It’s my point of view that creates the standup and that point of view will determine the sketch show as well.

DC Scene: One of your most famous impressions is of the late announcer for the Price is Right, Rod Roddy. It was great how you worked him into so many sketches in so many original forms.
Caliendo: They asked me to do it one time at Mad TV. I didn’t think I could but it ended up being one of the funniest parts of the sketch. He’s passed away so I don’t really do it anymore

DC Scene: Did you ever think that with your ability to mimic people that, you could potentially be one of the greatest prank callers the world has ever seen? You could probably fool an operator at Fox Sports Network that you were John Madden and cause havock.
Caliendo: I don’t like to do that. [Besides], I don’t really find that kind of stuff that funny.

DC Scene: Your Dave Letterman and Jay Leno impressions are spot-on. Are you prepping to do a Conan O'Brien impression for when he takes over in 2009?
Caliendo: Unfortunately, I don’t have a Conan. I’m not even sure what I’d do [with] that impression

DC Scene: Are you going to root for certain 'people' to win the presidential election based on who you can give an impression of?
Caliendo: There’s no real cast right now. There were people that were in the pilot with me but they’re not official “cast members.” We are going to try and get the best people to do the show that we can with the resources that we have.

DC Scene: Thanks Frank.

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