Multiple personalities no problem for Frank Caliendo
Comedian Frank Caliendo peforms at The Improv at Woodfield Mall Sept. 7 and 8.
8 and 10:15 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7; 7 and 9:15 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8
Improv Comedy Nightclub, 5 Woodfield Road, Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg
(847) 240-2001; www.chicago.improv.com or www.frankcaliendo.com
Updated: September 5, 2012 2:36PM
When master impressionist Frank Caliendo performs Sept. 7 and 8 at Schaumburg’s Improv Comedy Nightclub, he’ll bring along people he hopes that you already know.
Caliendo’s pitch-perfect, rapid-fire repertoire includes sports icons, talk show hosts, movie stars, celebrity billionaires and recent U.S. presidents.
“I don’t do hardcore political comedy, I just try to find the funny,” he said. “Every time I hear Joe Biden talk, I picture George Bush sitting at home watching TV going, ‘That guy says some dumb stuff.’”
Caliendo, who was born in Chicago and grew up in Waukesha, Wis., attracted national attention with five seasons on “Mad TV,” two seasons of “Frank TV” and the last nine years on making football predictions for Fox-TV Sports as John Madden and others.
“My picks were horrific. I took the picks seriously, but I was never good at it. In the nine years, there were only two years I won with my Super Bowl picks,” said Caliendo.
Inspired by Robin Williams and Jonathan Winters, Caliendo deftly voices multiple characters — often within a single conversation. So how does it sit with him when he’s called a schizophrenic comedian?
“With me, fine, but with me, awful,” he jokes.
Caliendo said he always had a knack for mimicry but it was a back injury that kept him bedridden for a month during his sophomore year at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee that gave him the time to develop his skills into an act.
“I was bored so I just started mimicking a lot of the stuff on TV and eventually I thought I would try this on stage,” he said.
The second time he performed he was offered a job at a comedy club in Milwaukee.
Caliendo sees his particular forte in comedy as akin to being a catcher in baseball.
“There aren’t that many people willing to play that position so if you are good at it, you are going to move up in the ranks. I was able to become a headliner in just a couple of years.”
Caliendo said one of the reasons he is doing clubs right now is to work on new material for an upcoming DVD special.
“I’m working on a lot more stuff about my family and talking about me,” he said. “People keep waiting for which voice I’m going to break into next and part of the key to my current success is getting people to listen to me, as me.”
But when he’s taking on other personalities, he keeps the voices straight in his brain by employing a mental mirror.
“I actually see the person when I am doing the voice. Then I move that person out of the way and do the next one.”