Caliendo brings wealth of personality to Gator Growl


Published: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 at 7:48 p.m.

Don't tell anybody, but the latest word on Gator Growl is that Al Pacino, Robin Williams and even Dr. Phil will show up, joining the likes of John Madden and George W. Bush.

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Comedian Frank Caliendo performs at Gator Growl Friday.

Special to The Sun

Forget the fact that they'll be "special guests" of comedian Frank Caliendo, and that they'll be more "heard" than seen.

In fact, in the anything-goes mind of funnyman (and master impressionist) Caliendo, the President and Madden may well weigh in Friday night on the outcome of Saturday's game against Vanderbilt.

In a telephone call, the 33-year-old Caliendo hardly skips a beat before relating a conversation the President and the venerable sportscaster could have Friday night in front of thousands in the swamp.

"John Madden talking about the Gators is pretty simple," Caliendo says before easing into a dead-on impression of the Prez.

"How much do you think these guys are going to win by?" he inquires in the familiar tone of "Bush" on the phone.

Then comes the cackling response from "Madden":

"I don't know if it's how much, I mean it's UNBELIEVABLE!" Caliendo says - booming his voice into a trademark take on Madden, the character that's become a stock-in-trade for the comedian since he began performing standup 10 years ago.

"That was the one that broke it out for me," Caliendo says about his impression of Madden, a staple not only of Caliendo's appearances on "FOX NFL Sunday" but also in guest spots on such TV shows as "The Late Show with David Letterman" and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien."

On Caliendo's new sketch-comedy show "Frank TV," which debuts Nov. 20 on TBS, his "Madden" will also be joined by the likes of "Jack Nicholson," "Bill Clinton" - and "Jay-vid Lenoman," a cross between Letterman and Jay Leno.

That turns Caliendo's appearance Friday in Gainesville into a unique chance to preview what the rest of the country will have to wait to "see" - and "hear" - on television 2 1/2 weeks later.

"It's gonna be UNBELIEVABLE!" Caliendo booms.

There he goes again...

Bill Dean can be reached at 374-5039 or bill.dean@gvillesun.com.

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