Thread: [MADtv] Frank Caliendo
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Old 04/22/2005, 3:52 AM
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Comedian Frank Caliendo makes a big impression
Colin Covert, Star Tribune
April 1, 2005 CALIENDO0401

Comedian-impressionist Frank Caliendo, a regular on "Mad TV" and "Fox NFL Sunday," and a favorite of local comedy audiences, is headlining two shows Saturday at the Historic State Theatre, his biggest venue to date.

Despite constant interruptions from George W. Bush, Bill Cosby and Al Pacino during our phone interview, we managed to get a few questions through to Caliendo himself.

Didn't you get your first big career boosts in Minneapolis?

Absolutely. I tell everybody Minneapolis is probably my favorite city. Louis Lee, who owns Acme Comedy Co., was the first person ever to feature me as a comedian in the middle spot. He was the first to book me as a headliner, the first ever to bring me to a theater and now the first to have me headline in a theater the size of the State.

Frank CaliendoFoxIt's always been a great city for me. People have taken to me faster on every level. My John Madden impression is big there because the Vikings are big. And coming from Wisconsin, I think we have a similar mentality.

Does it ever bother you that, because much of your material is based on impersonations, people may not get a strong impression of who you are?

Yeah, making that connection with the audience is vital. If I don't talk to the audience for five or 10 minutes before going to the impressions, people won't listen to me. A lot of the impressions I do have a piece of me in them, anyway. I find something about them that makes Frank Caliendo laugh. Like how John Madden will say the same thing at the beginning of a sentence and at the end of the sentence and wrap it up with, "and that's what that's all about." When you hear "that's what that's all about," that's a Band-Aid on a John Madden tragedy.

What's the process of developing an impression?

A lot of it has to do with walking around and annoying people while you talk to yourself. I listen to their vocal range, and I actually will say the alphabet with them, because if you can do the alphabet, you can do every single sound.

When you start out, maybe you can only say a couple of words and sound like them until you can stay in discipline through it. Sometimes I start with a phrase. When I started doing Michael J. Fox, I said, "You made a time machine out of a DeLorean?" over and over and over.

Learning to do Madden, it was "Here's a guy. ..." You find their key phrase and drill it into your brain. It's training your voice like a muscle as you keep talking like them and find those little sounds that they do, and that's what makes it funny. Madden sounds like he's eating a sentence and choking on a prepositional phrase.

There are a lot who elude me, though. Bill Parcells of the Dallas Cowboys has a raspiness to him, but every time I try to do him, he morphs into Al Pacino. There are a lot of people who are very close to each other, and they live side by side in my brain.

What happened to Andrae?
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