Caliendo to make good impressions at Funny BoneWritten by John Benson | | email@example.com
It was roughly a year ago when funnyman Frank Caliendo found himself at a crossroads.
For years he entertained sports fans as a regular contributor to the “FOX NFL Sunday” show. However, it was after the 2011 gridiron season that the master impressionist, who first gained mainstream attention with his impersonation of former NFL head coach and retired television football analyst John Madden, felt he needed a change.
“I got tired at FOX,” said Caliendo, calling from his Phoenix, Ariz., home. “They got tired of me. It was so much of the same stuff. It was a spot where you couldn’t experiment because so many people were watching and you only have one shot. When you’re on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ you can do sketches for 90 minutes and throw some weird stuff in the end. When you’re doing that during a football pre-game show, it’s not really about the comedy anyways.”
While he was preparing for a fulltime return to touring his standup comedy, Caliendo was contacted by ESPN about contributing material to its football coverage. On the surface it may seem like the same gig, but he said being a part of the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader of Sports isn’t short on the unique type of opportunities he wanted.
“The great thing about ESPN, when we knock it out of the park like my Mel Kiper Jr. impersonation, they played it eight times and pieces of it run days after,” Caliendo said. “It used to be when I was on Sunday morning with FOX, that was the only time you saw it, but the Kiper sketch has over 300,000 hits on YouTube.”
For sports fans, that sketch is hilarious as Caliendo embodies the energetic spirit of the perfectly coiffed NFL draft expert. During the past year, Caliendo expanded his repertoire to include new impressions of Jerry Jones and John Gruden.
Fans of Caliendo may hear those new voices as the funnyman returns to Ohio for a 7:30 p.m. July 14 show at Toledo Funny Bone, 6140 Levis Commons Blvd., Perrysburg.
While the comedian said he enjoys performing in the Buckeye State, he actually has a summer home in Avon Lake outside of Cleveland. His wife is from the area and it’s a great opportunity for his kids to spend time with his in-laws.
Also, the vacation time allows Caliendo to mine new stage material. Lately he’s been adding more family jokes into his set in hopes of making a slight change to his material.
This move is tied to the one area where Caliendo could see himself return to non-sports-based television. Remember, the funnyman received his television start as a cast member of FOX-TV sketch comedy show “MADtv.” He also received plenty of mainstream attention with his WTBS series “Frank TV,” which only lasted one season but featured Caliendo showing off his mastery of impressions (President George W. Bush, Jay Leno, Robin Williams, et al.) within the sketch comedy program.
“I’ve been talking to [comedian] Jim Breuer because I’m trying to develop a family show,” Caliendo said. “We’ve had a couple of conversations. I’m just trying to figure out what I could do. I’m a dad now and starting to get a lot of these experiences with kids and being married. We’ll see where that goes.”
Whatever the future holds, you get the sense that Caliendo won’t be giving up his first love.
“I know what I do best,” Caliendo laughed. “That’s going on stage and acting like an idiot.”