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The Strip’s newest headliner takes a decade’s worth of impressions to Monte Carlo.
Impressionist, actor, stand-up comedian, and family man Frank Caliendo is settling down in the entertainment capital of the world—at least for the next 10 years.
Caliendo is thrilled to leave the life of cross-country touring to become the latest headliner at Monte Carlo in Las Vegas. “I can’t wait! Las Vegas is great,” says Caliendo, before his show debuted on October 12. “I’m in love with two things there: the [white corn] tamales at Diablo’s Mexican Cantina in Monte Carlo, which I just can’t get enough of, and the meatballs at Café Martorano [in Rio All-Suite]. If you’ve never had one of their $12 meatballs—well, I’ll tell you, they are underpriced.”
The food in Las Vegas was not the only thing that motivated Caliendo to accept his new gig. “Signing on with Monte Carlo seemed like a good thing to do,” he says. “I really like the people at the hotel, and they really wanted to do the show. I also want to be around my family. I have been traveling back and forth to the East Coast, and I was tired of that.”
Caliendo’s two children attend school in Phoenix. He will commute from Las Vegas to Arizona, but this way he can see his family during the week, and they can visit him on weekends. He says that he and his wife are going to wait until the kids are out of school for the summer and then reassess their living arrangements.
Traveling can be exhausting for anyone, but it is particularly so when you are performing for a live audience night after night. “I’ve been to Reno, and I’ve worked in West Wendover, which is beautiful with all the mountains on the border of Utah, but I tend to get to a place, go to work, and then fall asleep without really getting to see it,” he says.
Caliendo, who for seven years has done impersonations—notably of former coach and announcer John Madden—on Sunday’s FOX NFL pregame show, starred on TBS’ “Frank TV,” has made regular appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “The Late Show with David Letterman,” and spent five years on “MADtv”. Caliendo says he will continue with the NFL pregame show for the next two years, but he will not be touring during his residency at Monte Carlo.
As for the new show, “It’s like nothing I’ve done before,” Caliendo says. “I just wanted it to be more than [your typical] stand-up show in Vegas. We are going to have a band and some video components, so it will be a hybrid of TV and stand-up. For people who like to see a little more production value in a show, this will be a good way to go.”
He plans to integrate some of his favorite impressions into the show, but fans can expect plenty of new material. “There will be tons of impressions, more than in my standard stand-up act,” Caliendo says. “Las Vegas has a very diverse audience; there are older folks as well as young people, so I am trying to add something for everyone. It’s part of the fun of what I do that I get to hit a lot of different angles.” He plans to incorporate everyone from Dr. Phil and Chris Rock to Dave Chappelle, Larry the Cable Guy, Robin Williams, and Jonathan Winters.
Caliendo says he will keep the show clean because he wants it to be one that everyone can enjoy. For inspiration, he looks to the world around him, particularly celebrities. “Just look at the roles actors accept and the ones they turn down,” he says. “It’s so funny, and sometimes you just can’t figure out what they were thinking. What could be funnier than watching Robert De Niro play Frankenstein, Jack Nicholson as the Wolf Man, or Casey Kasem as Robin on ‘Super Friends?’ That’s real, and you can’t get funnier than that.”
Who is Caliendo’s favorite person to impersonate? “I would have to say either Dr. Phil or Charles Barkley,” he says. “They are both so much fun because I get to yell at people. Yelling at people is always fun. I don’t try to be mean about it; to me it’s about being silly. Doing impressions is all about twisting words and situations till you say, ‘Hey, that sounds kind of funny,’ and then going with it.”
Dark Sun. & Mon.
(starting Sept. 23, 2010)