If the position of “Rich Little for a New Generation” is open, Caliendo has to be a serious candidate.
Close your eyes during his act and you’ll think Robin Williams, George Bush or NFL Hall of Famer John Madden are in the room. More amazing is how Caliendo flawlessly segues between celebs without clearing his throat.
In fact, down to the necessary wigs and prosthetics, Caliendo is all method when it comes to his knock-offs.
“I try to do the real person,” the 33-year-old comic explains. “Nothing bothers me more than when someone does a Tom Hanks impersonation and it’s Forrest Gump.”
Throughout the 1990s, impersonations fell out favor among standups, but the young Caliendo went against that grain, accentuating his set of impressions with insights about each celebrity’s foibles.
Not that every celebrity is happy about Caliendo doing this — especially Madden. “The guy won’t come near me — he doesn’t like me,” exclaims Caliendo, who has been booked by “Late Show With David Letterman” to “do” the sportscaster — a process that involves accentuating a panache for the obvious — four times this season.
Sporting everything from gray wig to a prosthetic belly, the faux Madden made his latest “Late Show” guest appearance the day after the Super Bowl, noting to Letterman, “If you tackle the guy, you usually have a good chance of stopping him.”
More appreciative is Vice President Dick Cheney, who liked the comic’s Bush imitation at a Washington correspondence dinner.
Buzz: After five years, Caliendo left “Mad TV” in May to pursue his own latenight sketch skein, “The Frank Show,” which was recently picked up for eight episodes on TBS.
A consistent club sellout on the road, Caliendo makes his feature-film debut in Fox’s football comedy “The Comebacks” this summer.
References: “Frank’s take on Bush is so complete and sincere, audiences truly relate to him as the President,” says “Mad TV” exec producer Dick Blasucci.
Fallback plan: “I suppose I’d be in radio,” Caliendo notes. “Can you think of any job where you count money all day? Maybe a casino owner?”