Frank Caliendo headed to DC Improv

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Entertainment,Robert Fulton

Frank Caliendo is an early riser.

For example, the comedian and impressionist extraordinaire was all set for a phone interview from his home in Tempe, Ariz., never mind that it was 7 in the morning. In fact, he said he'd been up since 4 a.m. and had already done a little swimming. That doesn't sound like the life of a big-time comedian with frequent travel dates, television appearances and late nights.

"I'm kind of the antithesis of a comedian," Caliendo joked. "People that don't like me will agree with that."

Frank Caliendo performs Thursday through Sunday at DC Improv.

Onstage
Frank Caliendo
» Where: DC Improv, 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW
» When: 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
» Info: $30 to $35; 202-296-7008; dcimprov.com

Caliendo is best known for his impressions, which landed him gigs on "MADtv," "Fox NFL Sunday" and his own "Frank TV." He can now be found on ESPN, as well as at comedy clubs across the country.

With impressions ranging from presidents (a squinty eyed, dumbstruck George W. Bush) to movie stars (Al Pacino yelling for no reason), Caliendo is probably best known for his variety of sports personalities. He made a name for himself with his hilarious takes on John Madden and Charles Barkley, and more recently has introduced Jon Gruden and Mel Kiper Jr. to the mix. The comedian stresses that his live performance only touches upon the sports characters in his repertoire.

"I definitely do other things so the audience enjoys the whole show," Caliendo said.

Caliendo said there's no impression that he's retired, though he isn't looking to fold Madden or President Bush back into his television routines any time soon. That doesn't mean he won't bring them out for his live show, however.

"I don't mind, I do that stuff onstage because people want to see that," Caliendo said. "I think sometimes comedians and entertainers and artists, sometimes they get onstage and it's all for what they want to do. I think you still need to do stuff for the audience. They're the ones who are making it possible."

Caliendo described his live show as not just a bunch of impressions but a broader show with storytelling and joke telling much in the vein of Robin Williams or Jonathan Winter. However, he added that it's a clean show, and he uses club shows to try out some new stuff in addition to what he knows already works.

With ESPN work and plenty of live gigs lined up, Caliendo keeps busy. He said he admires the way comedians such as Lewis Black, Louis C.K. and Jim Gaffigan are able to tell stories on just about everything. Caliendo wants to continue working on his craft.

"Most people want to be on TV as much as possible," Caliendo said. "I went up the ranks so fast because I was doing impressions, and nobody was really doing it when I started. I never got a chance to explore what's my comfort level onstage."

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