Thread: [MADtv] Frank Caeti
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Old 07/26/2005, 6:17 AM
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ComedySportz Veteran Frank Caeti joins MAD-TV

On Friday, July 1st, local comic actor Frank Caeti accepted an invitation to join the cast of MAD-TV, the LA based sketch comedy show, now in its 10th season. Caeti will begin his MAD-TV career as a “featured player” with at least 4 episodes guaranteed in the upcoming season, one of which being the season opener which will air in mid to late September.

Along with acting and improv credits throughout the city, Frank Caeti was a mainstay of The ComedySportz Theatre from 1997 – 2003. At ComedySportz, Frank was a performer, a teacher, and a founding member of The Hot Karl, a late-night cult comedy that began in 1999. In 2001, Frank was named ComedySportz’s most valuable player. Resigning from the company in 2003, Frank went on to star in two sketch comedy revues with Second City E.T.C. MAD-TV is Frank’s first venture into television of this nature.

“This is a totally new adventure. It’s the same type of theater I do now, but a totally new type of media,” said Frank in a phone interview Thursday, July 8. ComedySportz is a live improv comedy show where there is no script and no chance to re-shoot a bad scene. On MAD-TV, actors say what writers write and a tough scene means multiple takes in front of a studio audience. Frank doesn’t seemed phased by the shift. “The scenes are shot live on tape, but the last take is usually improvised. As far as writing goes, I’d prefer to be an actor before a writer, anyway. And, it’s definitely collaborative. You’re expected to have ideas.”

If Frank was to go anywhere in television comedy, it seems like MAD-TV was the place for him: “What I like about MAD is that they push the form a little bit more. They try to get away with more than other shows. And, when it comes to comedy I actually like watching, Fox is the network to beat. They’re willing to push boundaries. And also, everyone [at Fox and MAD-TV] have been very, very nice. I’m looking forward to it.”


Caeti’s path to a signed contract with MAD-TV was not an easy one. It began at the end of April, when executives from MAD-TV saw Caeti in “from Fear to Eternity,” the current Second City E.T.C. revue. Frank auditioned with other Chicago actors, and then received some good news and some bad news.

“I was told by my agent that I would be flown out to L.A. for a callback, but that there was no way to tell when. But several weeks later, I did get flown out. The whole thing was pretty stressful. I had to test for the producers and the network. I ended up doing 12 different characters and impressions in just one of the screen tests.” Caeti’s advice to those who wish to get on a TV show, “bring more stuff than what you need.”

Because of a prior development deal Caeti signed with Sony Pictures that was never exercised, MAD-TV had to wait until June 30th to pursue the actor further, making the process even longer. Finally, on July 1st, an offer was made and accepted. Caeti definitely believes the process was worth it.


For six years, Frank Caeti was ComedySportz. He looks back on that time as foundational to his recent success: “ComedySportz gave me the opportunity to perform on a regular basis when I needed to – the chance to work and be directed by people who were much better than me. And not just ComedySportz, but the other shows we did at [The ComedySportz Theatre] like Whose Chorus Line Is It Anyway?, The Hot Karl, and Blind Date. With ComedySportz, they each taught me something different about comedy.”

Caeti did not just learn from ComedySportz, he taught others. “I was a teacher for our beginning level. I think where ComedySportz surpasses other training centers is where it prepares you to think quickly and to ultimately have fun. It’s much easier to excel if you’re having a good time doing it. And that’s something that ComedySportz’s training center imparts to its students. And ultimately that is a reflection of the show. There is a playfulness that ComedySportz possesses that isn’t present everywhere.


Frank Caeti is by no means the first Chicago comic talent to go to one of the coasts. In late 2003, ComedySportz’s Liz Cackowski was hired to Saturday Night Live. Several performers from Second City, ComedySportz, Improv Olympic, and the Annoyance have all left their mark on both the West and East Coasts.

At last count, half of the repertory players on Saturday Night Live hailed from the Chicago improv scene: Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Rachel Dratch, Horatio Sanz, and Tina Fey, their Head Writer. In addition to Fey, SNL writers include such Chicago talent as John Lutz, Rich Talarico, Jason Sudeikis, and of course, Cackowski. On the West Coast’s MAD-TV, Frank will join such Chicago favorites as Stephanie Weir, Ike Barinholtz, Keegan Michael Key, and Nicole Parker.

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