The Frank Caliendo Saga: J.P. ruins comedian's day for no reason

Chris Lingebach
August 29, 2018 - 10:17 am

Comedian Frank Caliendo called into The Junkies on Wednesday with the reasonable expectation of having a normal conversation.

But two minutes in, JP – the resident inhuman host on the show – just decided to bring up a negative review of Caliendo's standup tour.

"I guess you were in Minneapolis," JP said. "There's a review about it and it struck me. I saw a 'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee' with Seinfeld, and Seinfeld says, 'I don't read reviews. My review is the audience.' Do you read reviews of your work?"

"No. If somebody was reviewing that, they're an idiot, because it's a work-in-progress on those shows," Caliendo said. "I was working on new material. Why would somebody review that?"

JP continued on his unrelenting path: "Well, the person actually wrote: 'At this point, during the work-in-progress tour, his mimic-free routines aren't all that sharp or original.'"

"What a douche," EB said.

"Yeah, I mean, why would somebody even review that?" Caliendo said. "Because that's what it is. Like, the whole point is you go to the clubs to work on the silly stuff and you try different things. So the fact that somebody was trying to review that doesn't get it. That actually makes me mad that somebody's that stupid, that they're doing something like that."

"Well, of course it's not that sharp. It's only been tried five-to-six times," Caliendo said. "That'd be like going to watch Chris Rock at the Comedy Cellar when he just shows up. And the first thing I found out, it's something I've said too, but it's like people go crazy. Chris Rock shows up and he's like, 'Lower your expectations!' So, it's like... Ah... What paper was that in?"

"Um... let's see," JP said. "In the Minneapolis Star-Tribune?"

"That's a big one!" EB said tongue-in-cheek.

"Yeah. Well, it's a newspaper. Nobody's reading," Caliendo fired back. "Let me review that person. You're writing in a newspaper."

"Yeah, that would be Neal Justin who wrote the column," JP said.

"He's a loser," Bish piled on.

With comedians being obsessive by nature, Caliendo couldn't get over it, and repeatedly referred back to the negative review throughout the remainder of his phone call.

In complete fairness to Caliendo, there's a big difference between a comedian touring on a polished act, and an act that's clearly presented as a work in progress. Cell phone videos have utterly ruined comedians being able to work out new material at local clubs, so many big touring comics just say 'screw it' and work it out on the road with that mission clearly stated.

Here's how many times Caliendo tweeted about it after hanging up (the first time). I'm sure JP didn't ruin his day.

Drab also received this text from Caliendo: "Thanks, man. I appreciate coming on. Still mad at the idiot reviewing that kind of show. Will be thinking about it all day."

Dukes called in a few segments later to bust JP's balls, launching this thing into a full-fledged saga. You don't get many gifts like today, folks. Soak it in.

Dukes: Maybe (bring it up) seven minutes into the interview. Maybe you don't open up by reading a negative review to your friend.

EB: But hold on. In JP's defense, he didn't read a negative review. He just said, 'Do you read reviews? Just curious.'

Fact Check: JP did read a negative review.

EB: It gets awkward. Let me tell you why. It always gets awkward with comedians on the phone. It's butt hard.

Drab: It's not hard.

EB: It is.

Drab: Ask him to do his Madden impression.

Jason Bishop did fulfill this obligation, to a sickening degree at the tail end of the interview, when he sledgehammered a request for a dinner between Trump and Jon Gruden.

EB: Eh, it's hacky.

Bish: That's what I wanted him to do. I didn't want to talk about the dumb reviews.

EB: Neither did I!

Drab: Here's what JP did. You're giving him way too much credit. He Googled Frank Caliendo's name right before he came on. The first thing that came up was the negative review.

EB: Yeah, but he didn't say, 'Did you know you got a negative review?'

Drab: That's what he was implying.

EB: No it wasn't. He was just saying, 'Do you read reviews?'

Drab: Why would he ask him that if he didn't just read the negative review, and he's setting him up to say, 'Hey, this guy from Minnesota just trashed your show'?

JP: No, it's because I just watched and I have no idea when the episode was, because it's a show which you can go on Netflix and binge-watch. But I just saw Seinfeld on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee talking to another comedian about the value, or the lack of value, of reviews. That's fine. Pile up on me. I'm sorry we brought up something interesting.

Dukes appropriately drilled down on Bickel's inexplicable defense of JP and passiveness toward engaging in mudslinging.

Dukes: There's a lot of grenade-jumping by one Eric Bickel here. I am shocked at what I'm hearing. Jesus Christ. You sound like a defense attorney.

EB: No, I'm not. I just know JP. He wasn't trying to weave in a way to trash him. He wasn't

Dukes: This is a sad day.

EB: I mean, Drabby and Valdez, they should do the interviews themselves. They're never happy with them.

It would be lunacy – incompetent, even – not to address how awkward that was.

Drab: You guys can ask them anything. I just ask not to make it awkward all the time. It's like seven interviews in a row where JP's made it awkward.

JP: In your opinion.

Last week, when Redskins execs Brian Lafemina and Steve Ziff were in studio, JP asked if he could see their notes on The Junkies.

Reasons this was awkward: 1) They're new in town; 2) It was their first time meeting The Junkies; 3) 106.7 The Fan has a historically and well-documented rocky relationship with the Redskins, who in part were sending those guys in as an olive branch to help smooth things over.

And never, ever forget the time JP read a different Bob Ryan's article to Bob Ryan.

Bish: Yeah, but you know what? Overall, at the end of the day, it's good that the interview was awkward.

Valdez: Let's read Facebook comments to Mike Rizzo next segment and see how that goes.

EB: Hey, if you got a question for Rizzo, go ahead. You guys can do the Rizzo interview. I've got no interest.

Drab: What are your interests?

EB: Not a lot on this show. Not a lot here.

We're roughly 30 minutes into this saga and haven't even gotten to the Burke & Herbert Fan Question. Caliendo is still tweeting, by the way.

The madness briefly subsided for The Junkies to do their weekly hit with Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo, but the shtick even found its way into that interview.

The Burke & Herbert Fan Question of the Week: "Mike, it's time for the Burke & Herbert Bank  Fan Question of the Week. Do you read the negative comments from Nats fans on social media? Does it bother you? That's from John-Paul in Gaithersburg."

Caliendo, still bothered, and Dukes both called back into the show to jumpstart the saga. The awkwardness quickly resumed when Caliendo brought up how he'd just learned Dukes has him blocked on Twitter, opening the door to some unfinished business.

"It's fine. I unblocked you, Frank. I apologize," Dukes said. "I'm very sensitive."

Caliendo wondered if the blocking had anything to do with a decade-plus-old beef he had with Dukes, which started – coincidentally enough – with Caliendo negatively reviewing Dukes' standup act. Caliendo mentioned he would often reference that moment in time during subsequent radio appearances.

"That was always a return joke when I didn't know what to say. I have even done your show a couple times (since), Chad," Caliendo said. "I don't want to do it anymore. Never again."

"I honestly was kind of shocked by it," Caliendo returned to serious. "Because I thought it came back to me being a jerk to you, which I thought you took (as a joke), but I realize sometimes you were a little more sensitive to."

"Well, I mean, Frank, you have to understand you're an established comedian," Dukes said. "You can draw everywhere. And any time I've had an interaction with you, it's been exactly like this, where you take one three-minute segment of standup I did when I was 24 and smash me for it. And that's fine, it's great. I dish it out, too. But why would I want to be involved with you?"

"Yeah, I gotta agree with you. You're right," Caliendo returned. "I'm changing my tune. I think you do a great show. I've always thought you did a great show. I thought you were actually good that night. I'm just always looking for something to have an in there."

"No. No. No," Dukes said. "You don't need to patronize me."

"No, he's not. Hold on, Dukes. You're getting sensitive," EB said. "I remember to this day what I took from it, because I was an outside observer, was he complimented Dukes on his presence, and he said, 'Man. This guy can do it.'"

"Yeah, but if I had known that really bothered you, Chad, I would 100 percent. I won't do it anymore. I won't even touch it."

"The damage is done!" Bish said.

"Now we're in another wormhole!" EB said. "Now we're in another!"

This is the greatest day of my life.

You can catch Frank Caliendo at Hollywood Casino on Oct. 20. Tickets here.

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