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Stand-up comedian offers frank talk about ‘Frank TV'

Comedian Frank Caliendo's impression-heavy half-hour sketch comedy show “Frank TV” started its second season on TBS on Oct. 21. But that won't keep him tied to the studio.

He's alternating his weekly NFL pre-game show tapings for Fox and his work for TBS with stand-up on weekends. He brings that stand-up show to Ovens Auditorium on Saturday. The Observer spoke to Caliendo recently about Tuesday's election and how the outcome will (or won't) affect “Frank TV.”

Q. Since you do political material and you won't know the outcome of the election until Tuesday, how much of the second season have you shot?

Everything is mostly shot because we were worried about an actor's strike. We got struck down by the writer's strike (last year). This way we can go back and change a couple things if we need to.

It's amazing how little has changed (in the presidential race). We were kind of worried about that. It's essentially exactly where it was five months ago.

Q. What about the introduction of Sarah Palin?

I wouldn't touch a Sarah Palin sketch. I think all that anybody thinks about is Tina Fey.

Q. You have a live audience for “Frank TV.” Did you want that to carry over from stand-up?

Well, that's where you get the laughs for TV. When there aren't any laughs, it feels a little dead.

The reason for the audience is to test the material too. You can tell if something doesn't work in front of that audience. You can remove something. We don't do the sketches live because when I was at “Mad TV” we were playing to the audience. I learned that if the audience doesn't laugh at something, it doesn't mean it's not funny. Something that works on TV may not translate as well with an audience.

You have to ask yourself if you're playing for 500 people in the audience or a million people watching at home. If it's too big and over the top, it might not work (for a live audience).

Q. Your election night episode is hosted by your President Bush. Are you going to miss him?

I think we'll still have some jokes. I don't think people are going to forget him. I will cut down the amount of President Bush that I'll do.

It's hard to talk about Obama and McCain because people are so tense about this election. The (crowds) are like “boo!” or “yay!” (during the stand-up shows). The political stuff slows down the show.

I've done more political stuff on TV than I do in the stand-up shows because the TV audience is told not to (heckle).

Q. What are your thoughts on using current events in your show?

“Frank TV” basically is like taking my stand-up act and turning it into sketches. We make an observation. We like it to be evergreen. You should be able to watch this show 10 years from now and this stuff will still make sense. That's why I don't do that much political stuff. There's no rerun factor. People aren't going to care a year from now.

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