Comedian and impressionist Frank Caliendo joined the Gio and Jones show on CBS Sports Radio on Friday morning to discuss his favorite impressions to do and his upcoming show schedule. As expected, hilarity ensued.
Caliendo originally became known for his impression of John Madden and now he says he’s become known for impersonating another John, as in former coach and current Monday Night Football broadcaster Jon Gruden.
“Well, Gruden has become really big. I pigeonholed myself as a guy who did an impression of a sportscaster named John, to a guy who does an impression of a sportscaster named Jon,” said Caliendo. “It went from John Madden going ‘I mean eh Boom! Brett Favre’ after everything to Gruden. People will say Jon Gruden is the new John Madden and I’m like no he’s the opposite. John Madden would explain things you already know. He’d say things like: ‘Hey that guys got mud on his jersey’ and then he’d explain the mud. Now, Gruden, he’s more like Dennis Miller, if you remember Dennis Miller did that Monday Night Football stuff, but the references were over my head. ‘That’s like waiting on the line for the Matterhorn at Disney World’. Even Stephen A. Smith is watching saying ‘I’m incredulous to this entire situation. Gruden doesn’t always know the references though, he’ll be like ‘I’ll tell you what Mike, that play was magical man. I wonder if he ever went to school to learn a play like that. What was the name of that school Harry Potter went to…uh…Hogwarts. I’ll tell you what man, I don’t care if you’re Minerva McGonagall, Albus Dumbledore or Severus Snape. If you’re Harry Potter, you’re pretty good at the game of Quidditch.”
Everyone knows and loves Caliendo’s Gruden, Madden and Charles Barkley, but does he have any newer characters that he’s started to work on?
“Well, I mean, the sports guys are the ones I’ve been doing the most with. You know, at ESPN it’s like the Simpsons because they really just have their own set of characters,” said Caliendo. “The newer stuff that people like is like the Morgan Freeman. ‘That’s when the audience realized that Frank Caliendo had no idea what he was talking about.’ One that’s been a newer one is Robert Downey Jr. The funny thing about him is, since the Avengers and Iron Man, he’s just become Tony Stark in everything he does. He’s like a human Twitter feed, talks in 140 characters or less and everything is about him. He could be like given out Academy Awards ‘These people deserve your applause almost as much as I do, hashtag awesome.’
On a more serious note, Frank does impressions of people of all races, which in today’s day and age can get you into hot water if it’s taken the wrong way. How does he handle those voices that could be seen as stereotypical?
“I think it’s a great question that you ask. I think we get lost in that nowadays, is what’s the intent of it,” said Caliendo. “In the old days, things were done–mean. They were done in a mean way to say this group of people wasn’t equal to this group of people and if you’re still doing that, you’re a knucklehead. But, if you’re doing it because you’re talking especially about a specific person, I think it’s funny. I definitely do watch myself and I’m very careful about things because I don’t–that’s not what I’m going out there to do. I’m not going out there to try and shock somebody and say look at what I can get away with.”
Caliendo will be performing two shows at Foxwoods Resort Casino on Friday January 29th at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. at the Fox Theater. Tickets for the shows are available online.