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October 16, 2008

Go Away, Frank Caliendo

01frankcaliendoheadshot_2 The Major League Baseball playoffs have been an especially painful viewing experience this year, and not just because my beloved Red Sox are getting thoroughly outplayed by a team that's resurrected the "Mohawks for team unity" trend from Little League. No, it's all made worse by the fact that seemingly every commercial break (and there are a lot of those in baseball), the folks at TBS immediately throw a promo for "FrankTV" at us.

I suppose TBS has no choice but to do this, given that "FrankTV" is about their only piece of original programming during the baseball off-season. It's just that the commercials are so damn annoying. Naturally, the network's chief marketing officer, Jeff Gregor, disagrees.

"This is just a hypothesis on my side: You think there are a lot of (FrankTV) spots, but there's actually not as many as you think," Gregor said. "They're just so good at entertaining and engaging that when they come on you feel like you just saw one not too long ago."

If only that were true, Mr. Gregor. Unfortunately your ads are not entertaining, nor are they engaging. Maybe they would be if you didn't play so damn many of them. Or maybe they would be if Frank Caliendo was actually funny.

See, the thing with impression comedy is that it's hopelessly one-dimensional. Frank Caliendo is great at imitating speech patterns. But where is there to go from there? Yes, George W. Bush talks like an idiot and has a sketchy laugh. John Madden is old and crazy and often gets too worked up to speak clearly. Donald Trump does that smug, pouty thing with his lips. These are all things I already knew and found amusing. Frank Caliendo's imitations don't make them any more funny.

Also, who is the character with the dark purple shirt that Caliendo portrays in a few of the commercials? No one I've asked can figure it out. That can't be a good sign for an impression comedian.

Here's to hoping that Caliendo next chooses to do an imitation of a character from "Arrested Development" — by getting promptly canceled.


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