Frank Caliendo stepped out of the small-stage spotlight, doing standup and impressions, and jumped into the small screen as a cast member on Fox's MADtv. Once America peeped his all-too-realistic John Madden impression, we got hooked on his comedy. TBS soon offered Caliendo his own program, Frank TV.
Though he's not a regular on television these days, he appeared as a guest on the Valerie Bertinelli and Betty White woman show Hot in Cleveland. His impressions have established him in the comedy world, but standup remains his passion, and after a stint in Vegas, Caliendo hit the road again. Before he heads to South Florida again for a few gigs, we chatted with the comic to learn about the man behind the voices.<
New Times: You have cemented yourself as a
master of many facets of comedy. Did you start out trying to make it in
standup or perfecting your impressions?
Frank Caliendo: I started out going to Comedy Sports Class. They
taught improv and team workshops. Then, when I was still in college, I
would always try out impressions on my friends and goof around. Someone
said, "Hey, you should try standup." I went up and tried it, and doing my
impressions onstage just kind of worked.
How do you feel about the television comedy shift from your standard
sitcom to more awkward and improvised comedies like The Office?
There are always trends for what's hot on television. Reality TV opened
the door for people seeing an awkward pause more regularly. It's more
like real life. Sitcoms tend to be more cookie cutter, but there is a
place for both types to succeed. Traditional sitcoms are making a
comeback now. My kids watch Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel
constantly, and those family-friendly channels have more and more
sitcoms, and the bigger networks seem to be getting more awkward. Let me
tell you, that iCarly really hits it out of the park!
What comics have inspired you to follow in their footsteps?
Growing up, I loved Jonathan Winters' wit and the speed of Robin
Williams. Standup kings like Dana Carvey and Brian Regan always get my
attention. I like people that do something different, like Lewis Black,
Dave Attell. I always look for the comics who created their own style
and that other people want to be like.