Frank Caliendo – who never intended on making his living by doing standup, impressions, starring on “MADtv” and ultimately getting his own show on TBS – had ambitions to play baseball, and only tried standup to stay afloat after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. It proved to be the beginning of his career in comedy. Born in Chicago in 1974, Frank was raised in Waukesha, Wisconsin, one of the perennial “Best Places to Live” cities in the United States. He was always aware of his ability to make people laugh beginning in his grade school years, but was more focused on playing baseball (catcher and outfielder) and paying his way through school. His weapons were his many impressions, and it was this ability that got him going when he tried standup.
Frank’s first television experience was on the short-lived WB sketch comedy series “Hype,” which ran for 17 episodes from 2000 – 2001. But it was “MADtv” in which Frank honed his comedic skills, eventually becoming most well known for his John Madden and President George W. Bush impressions. He was a regular guest as different characters on David Letterman, as well as appearances on NBA and NFL shows. While Charles Barkley personally approved of Frank’s impression of himself, Madden reportedly was not so enthused.
In November 2007, TBS and Frank inked a deal that would bring Frank’s own show to the network. Entitled “Frank TV,” a sketch series revolving around numerous Frank creations and characters, the show proves that the comedian has deftly climbed the ladder of success – his utilization of the Internet and YouTube as well as his credo that no character or person is ever outdated if brought into proper context has paid off. He has quite a fan following, and now the exposure will be even bigger.
Frank on the Web
Database of Franks’ TV appearances, as well as links and a message board.
TBS’s official site for their show “Frank TV.”
Official site for the impressionist and comedian.
Frank’s official MySpace page.
YouTube clip from Frank’s official site promoting his DVD.
That Other Paper Interview
Austin newspaper talks to Frank.
Frank on gaining recognition as he launches “Frank TV.”
Frank on the Screen
Frank started his TV career after doing standup for a few years on “Hype,” though it was “MADtv” in which he gained recognition and exposure. He has appeared on Letterman, Craig Kilborn, Craig Ferguson and Conan. He also utilizes radio, as his claim is that impressions rely more on voice accuracy than visual. Among his impressions – many of which you can easily find on YouTube – include John Madden, President Bush, Dick Cheney, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Rick Moranis, Dr. Phil, Jack Nicholson, William Shatner and Yoda.
Frank now has his own show, “Frank TV,” debuting in November 2007. The current writer’s strike has reduced the show’s number of episodes for its inaugural run. Catch it while you can – it’s reportedly only going to be broadcasting five episodes unless the conflict with the writer’s resolves itself.
On his start:
“After graduating from college, I didn’t want to work at a desk job, so I just took a chance on standup and developed more from there.”
On his talent:
“I’m just a regular guy who’s got a little bit of a freaky ability.”
On bad comedians:
“Most of them have no idea. Really bad ones who think they’re good can be funny to me, though.”