Frank Caliendo is all too familiar with the old Hollywood expression; Give the people what they want. That's why the first of the celebrated impressionist's two sold-out shows Monday at the Acme Comedy Co. was jam packed with guest stars like Charles Barkley, John Madden, Al Pacino, George W. Bush and, of course, Donald Trump.
But the veteran comic seems most eager these days to introduce fans to a lesser known celebrity: Frank Caliendo. One of the reasons the former "FOX NFL Sunday" jester keeps coming back to Acme is that owner Louis Lee was one of the first to recognize his potential. The other reason is that the intimate, knowledgable regulars at Acme are more likely than most to give a comic the opportunity to take chances. For Caliendo, that meant a lot of new material about his personal life while temporarily tucking his arsenal of impressions into his back pocket.
At this point during the work-in-progress tour, his mimic-free routines aren't all that sharp or original. His wife likes cake. His kid spends too much time playing video games. Yada yada yada. But you've got to give Caliendo props for daring to go into battle without his most reliable weapon.
Caliendo wasn't heartless enough to spend his entire time on stage without his famous friends. He even closed the show by taking requests, although he passed on one fan's cry for "Fred Flinstone as Jackie Gleason."
At one point, he channeled Louie Anderson to buttonhole a joke about how his wife always wants to know how famous people smell.
"Louie's nickname for my wife is Sniffy," Caliendo said before nailing a dead-on impression of the Minnesota native. He may have his voice down pat, but it'll take some more time before Caliendo has matched Anderson's ability to dig deeper.