By Ryan Rosenthorn III/Contributing Writer
(Ryan Rosenthorn III will periodically be contributing to INSIC. He's not a writer by trade, but he likes tacos and the Bengals which in John Breech's eyes qualified him to write for this site.)
Frank TV was cancelled after one season (which was one season too many), yet, somehow, TBS made the show last long enough to subject us to its insufferable promos every single commercial break during the last two years of the National League Championship Series.
Many of you may not even know who Frank Caliendo is (the namesake and lead in Frank TV), if you don't, don’t worry; your life is probably the better for it. I knew him as the portly, kind of funny guy from the few episodes I caught of MADtv, however if you weren’t one of the seventeen people in the world who watched MAD, then you might know him from his gig on the 'NFL on FOX' pre-game show where he appears as himself, John Madden, and sometimes a few other people.
I’ll admit that his Madden impersonation is pretty spot-on and entertaining at times, but there are three things on Fox NFL Sunday that are even more entertaining: Howie Long getting visibly pissed when “Madden” insults him, hearing Terry Bradshaw cackle like a hyena for an hour, and watching Jimmy Johnson’s hair to see if it moves (In eight years, his hair hasn’t moved once, I counted).
Somehow Caliendo parlayed his stand-up act, heavy on Madden impersonations, into the FOX gig, which eventually led to the Frank TV show, and it just didn’t work. Like cocaine, meth, and robitussin, impersonations are fun in small doses, but they don’t work for a half hour, and they definitely don’t work in a live-action format (I just can’t buy into a fat Robin Williams). Caliendo does have some other funny impersonations (Charles Barkley comes to mind), but some others are terrible (like everything else he does).
Without a doubt his bread and butter is John Madden, and the announcement of Madden’s retirement last week probably didn’t come as welcome news to Caliendo. Although, Will Ferrell did pull off doing Harry Caray after Caray died, but Will Ferrell is Will Ferrell, and Frank Caliendo is…well, not that funny.
However, Caliendo’s predicament isn’t the only dilemma arising from Madden’s retirement. There are a myriad of unanswered questions. Among them; who will provide the ever-lasting man love for Brett Favre (did Madden retire because Brett finally did, or did they plan it together while sharing a plate of spaghetti, ala Lady and the Tramp)?
Who will speak to the 'everyman' that Madden purportedly reached better than any announcer ever (is the everyman an idiot)?
Who will promote the hellish creature known as the Turducken (does anyone know what a Turducken is)?
Will Madden continue to provide his voice for the Madden video game (or do they have some Mission Impossible-esque computer program that can say anything in Madden’s voice? Because if they do, that would be another blow to Caliendo).
Who will point out insanely obvious things to millions of viewers ('Here’s a guy that when he wears his contact lenses, he can see better')?
What will become of the Outback Steakhouse Madden Cruiser?
Without a doubt the above questions and a multitude of others related to Madden’s effect on the world will be debated in college courses, position papers, and at the UN for years to come. Let’s try and answer the most important question, like what's going to happen to Madden’s bus, which looks like an Outback restaurant on wheels.
With Cris Collinsworth coming into the fold, I propose that the Outback Steakhouse Madden Cruiser be replaced by the Skyline Chili Cheese Coney Crismobile to represent his Cincinnati roots. It would be pretty simple to put together, just take the Oscar Meyer Wiener Mobile and throw all the delicious coney toppings on the roof (does the wiener mobile have a roof).
Although after thinking about it, this idea might not work since Skyline refuses to expand beyond a 200-mile radius from its Fairfield facility (yet they inexplicably have 5 locations in Florida). People outside of Cincinnati will wonder why Collinsworth is riding around in a Oscar Meyer mobile covered with chili that looks like the inside of a dirty diaper.
On the other hand, this idea would probably have a chance to work if the Bengals had any primetime games this season. Have you noticed that every time a primetime game is played in Cincinnati, the network has to show at least once, the preparation that goes into a Skyline Chili Cheese Coney (we’re not splitting the atom here, folks)? Not to mention, it seems like they also require the announcers to mention that they stopped at Skyline during their time in town. And we all know what the announcers are actually thinking, ‘Jesus, I would rather eat three turduckens and a child then this Cincinnati chili crap.’
Is Cincinnati really so boring that the only filler shots they have during games are Skyline Chili related? The only other city shot I could think of anyone using is Fountain Square, and even then a majority of the national audience would think: “That’s quaint, I have a fountain in my backyard.” Other cities have stuff, why don’t we?
Philly has the Liberty Bell, New York has Times Square, Chicago has the Sears Tower, and Pittsburgh has…well, bad example, that city is going nowhere faster than you can say Detroit. Plus, they’re a living conundrum; they have one of the smallest populations of an NFL city, but seemingly one of the largest fan bases? Let's just say that what I'm thinking rhymes with 'barefeather pans.'
But back to Collinsworth; I’m curious if people outside of Cincinnati even know that he’s a former Bengal. He is well spoken, on the right side of the law, and very successful, all traits that people don’t associate with the current crop of Bengals. Or former players for that matter (e.g. Carl Pickens, Corey Dillon, ‘Dead Beat Dad’ Darnay Scott), and sorry Mr. Anthony Munoz, you were an excellent player and maybe even a better person, but those e-mails I get from Nigeria are more convincing than your acting. Which reminds me of a random story: A friend of mine, upon meeting Munoz years ago, told him that he was his favorite actor ever (Munoz was in The Right Stuff and who doesn’t love his Furniture Fair commercials); Munoz is usually a nice guy, but after this ‘compliment,’ I half expected to have to retrieve my friend’s head two hundred yards from his body.
I think Collinsworth will do well in replacing Madden, he has proven himself over the last few years to be probably the best NFL analyst around. Although, I could see someone debating that, because when you sit next to Dan Marino and Cris Carter for five years, all you really have to do is show up sober and put a coherent thought together. The world will certainly be a different place without John Madden announcing, but don’t feel sorry for Caliendo because we all know he’ll continue to beat (and have sex with) the dead horse that is his Madden impersonation.
(Coming tomorrow, the unedited transcript of Former Bearcat Coach Andy Kennedy's day in court. Only INSIC has it and we illegally obtained it. We don't think you'll want to miss this, unless you're an Indian Cab driver of course)