Comedy legend Frank Caliendo stopped by The Marty Smith Podcast at Outsider this week to talk impersonations, impressions, and John Madden.
Frank Caliendo has no shortage of hilarious stories to tell Marty and Wes Blankenship about being a professional comedian. From the people, he’s met to the jokes he’s told to the impressions he’s delivered. And just like in real life, Frank Caliendo inspires all kinds of laughs on The Marty Smith Podcast.
“Frank, what is it about impersonation that you have found to be so funny?” Wes asked once the laughter died down. “Why is this funny to us, to hear another person talk like somebody else?”
“In terms of why is it funny to people, I think because it’s mostly the fish out of water situation,” Frank explained. “And that’s why analysts and sports analysts are so easy to do material with. You just take everyday situations and then describe them.”
Imagine hearing a football sports analyst describing a play-by-play of people scooting past one another to get to their seats. Or trying to find your phone in your coat pocket. Or, as Frank used in an example, describing a person eating a hot dog.
“They’re doing it in-game, and you know [John] Madden used to do it during the game,” Frank shared. “He’d go, ‘That guy’s got a hot dog right there. He’s put the hot dog in the bun. In Chicago, you can’t even put ketchup on that thing. You put ketchup on it, they kick you out. I mean, that’s a mustard city!'”
Frank added, “So yeah, it’s when you take the fish out of water stuff, do those types of things, that’s where it starts to have fun.”
Frank Caliendo Clarifies Impersonations vs. Impressions on The Marty Smith Podcast
But before Frank Caliendo shared the answer to Wes’s question about impersonations being funny on The Marty Smith Podcast, he clarified a key fact.
“You call it impersonation. I don’t think of it as impersonation, I think impersonation actually is boring,” Frank revealed to Marty and Wes. “If you do impersonation and you just try to sound like the person, it’s done after a short amount of time. You get maybe 30 seconds out of it.”
So, what is Frank’s key to being funny? “It’s what you caricature, and make it an impression,” the comedian explained. “It’s my own vernacular here, it’s my own way of thinking about it. But the impression, you blow something up a little bit.”
Frank Caliendo then went on to share a story about how sometimes, the impressions he does of famous or semi-famous people actually gain more traction with audiences. Those people that he does an impression of get recognized more for the way Caliendo made an impression of them than for their own actions.
“Sometimes those things can be a little goofy,” Frank concluded. “But be happy, people know you.”