Frank Caliendo is a funny guy. Yes, he rules in the world of impressions and has been on hit TV shows, but Frank Caliendo the comic is so much more. He exudes natural wit and when he comes to the Irvine Improv this Thursday through Sunday, the humor that Frank Caliendo is bringing to the stage will provide one show that can't be missed!
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Frank Caliendo: I think I first wanted to be an architect because Mr. Brady was one. I didn't really think about it that much. I just always told myself I wanted to be an architect but I had no reason because I wasn't good at drawing. I didn't even like to draw.
Maybe you were good with a ruler?
[Laughs.] Yeah. It sounded good. It was a three syllable word that was a job. I was a super shy kid who didn't do much but watch a lot of TV. My parents were like, what are you going to do with just watching TV all of the time? And now, ha-ha.
Yeah! In your face parents!
Yeah! In your face mom! In the face! I was a Mass Communications major and I realized I had to take a class that I didn't want to so I changed my major to Broadcast Journalism. The class I didn't want to take was “TV News” which is funny because you have to take “TV News” to get Mass Communications but, you don't have to take it to get a broadcast degree.
So after almost two years of playing Vegas… you've stopped and started touring. Did you miss the room service on the road?
[Laughs.] I just couldn't take being in Vegas five days a week. It was a bit much and my family was in Arizona so I was just commuting way too much. I wanted to be away like, a third as much, so I decided to go on the road here and there. I'm going back to do the Venetian in March. We do it with a band and it's a silly little show. I'd love to do five to ten weeks a year in Vegas but I just can't take forty.
You do some work with Fox NFL…who'd you take in the Super Bowl?
I was there for the pre-Super Bowl stuff and I was home before it started. I picked the Giants but I wasn't invested in either one because I grew up in Wisconsin and it's a state law to be a Packer fan when you leave. What did you think of Madonna? Did you think that was good?
My honest take is Madonna should've sung live and dressed a little sportier. I didn't get the gladiator thing. What did you think?
I thought the stage was amazing. I got a lot of feedback when I tweeted, what is Richard Simmons doing on that tight rope?
Haha he was getting his balls crushed I think.
[Laughs.] Yeah! What was that? I'm not a huge Madonna fan and to me it doesn't really fit the NFL's audience but, I think they were trying to reach out and get a bigger audience. It didn't do much for me though and like you said, the lip-syncing was like why? I didn't get it. It just wasn't for me but at this point they aren't programming for me either. It's hard to live up to the hype anymore. You'll never make everyone happy.
I still think Prince killed it. He was my all-time favorite. Switching sports, you do an awesome impression of Charles Barkley.
The funny thing to me with him is I'm still trying to figure out how many syllables are in the word "ribs.” Riiiibsss. It's great and really funny. My favorite thing about Barkley is that he's out there for everyone to see. He's not just a former broadcaster and athlete, he's an entity now hosting SNL and all of that stuff. It's really helpful.
You do it so great and one of my favorite things Barkley says is, "That is turrrible.”
Yes. Turrrible and hurrrible. He took the vowels out of turrrible and hurrrible and put them into riiiibs.
Wait until he masters Spanish like he's been claiming for a couple of seasons. Something you might want to look into!
Is he learning that for some reason? Me llamo Chuck Barkley! Hola mis amigos!
Right? Has anyone ever come to you and told you to stop impersonating them?
No, not so much. I don't think John Madden used to like me but I met him at the Super Bowl last year and he seems to have come around. Leno and Letterman, they both have had me do them on their shows. Umm…Dr. Phil and Donald Trump, they've all been pretty good about it. In the last couple of years I haven't really had any negative reaction.
That's a good thing and speaking of, you have been dropping the pounds so do you think that will that kind of "close the door” on any of your impressions?
Not really because you can always pan out on TV. I've always wanted to lose the weight and I'm down about 35 or 40 pounds right now. They actually had to shoot it a little different when I was doing John Madden this year because I looked too thin. I'm never going to be skinny so I don't think that'll be an issue. It actually helps because I do lots of impressions of people who are skinnier than me. People are always like, aren't you scared that if you lose the fat that you'll lose the funny? I'm like, I don't really rely on that and actually it's been the opposite of that because it's hurt me to be too fat.
Do you think you'll ever end up phasing the impressions out with your material?
You know I'm actually looking to develop the "me” side of it more. I'm not going to forget the impressions though because I know that is what people want to see. I'm trying to bridge that gap on who and I and what I do. A lot of comedian's people go see because of who they are. Like, people go see Daniel Tosh because is who he is and they just can't what to hear what he's going to say. A lot of people see me to see what I'm going to do. It's kind of more like establishing yourself as the person instead of the act. I'm still sort of an act to people so I'm trying to bridge that. I'd rather be like 50/50 as opposed to 80/20. That's what I'm looking for because I've never been a straight impressionist where I just did impressions. I always liked set-ups and did comedy around it. It just turned out that I could write well for these people. My idea is more now to do characters and make fun of people as opposed to famous people.
I'm pretty sure that anything you do will be funny. When was the last time you performed in Irvine?
I couldn't even tell you but it's been at least three years. Probably three to four years ago maybe.
What can the crowd look forward to with this long overdue trip to Irvine?
A lot of dancing. I was actually one of Madonna's background dancers.
Where you the one humping the ground?
I actually was the ground. I had a ground-a-tard on. [Laughs.] One of the reason's I am coming to the Improv is to do the stuff that I'm known for but also do some new things there as well. The show is going to be some impressions, a little about me, and a little about family. I do a clean show but that's not to say it's a show for kids!
You can buy some hilarious CD's and DVD's on Frank's website www.FrankCaliendo.com and follow him on Twitter @FrankCaliendo. Get your tickets now to see Frank this Friday through Sunday (2/24-2/26) by logging on www.improv.com or by calling 949-854-5455. The Improv is located at 71 Fortune Drive Irvine, CA 92618.