What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that some of the jokes in this sketch comedy series include strong language ("hell" or "ass") and touch on mature topics like sexuality (references to the Kama Sutra, homosexuality, and sexual harassment, for instance) -- but it's probably nothing teens haven't seen before. Generally, the series pokes lighthearted fun at political figures and celebrities, exaggerating quirky traits like speech mannerisms, facial expressions, and catch phrases for laughs. Star Caliendo's visibility on Web sites like YouTube and MySpace contributes strongly to his popularity, so if your teens enjoy him, they may want to visit the sites for more.
What's the story?
Sketch comedy series FRANK TV showcases the talents of funnyman Frank Caliendo (MADtv), whose spot-on impersonations of celebrities like Jack Nicholson, Dr. Phil, and George W. Bush have led to an impressive resume (including regular appearances on the Late Show with David Letterman) and plenty of fans. The show combines brief bits from Caliendo's stand-up act -- filmed on a set in front of a live audience -- with pre-taped sketches that showcase his excellent impressions. Each 30-minute episode features about six skits, many of which cast Caliendo in multiple roles, from Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro (as often-off-base film critics) to the entire cast -- including Elaine! -- of a Seinfeld (at an imagined 20-year reunion show). Caliendo also encourages live participation by selecting a co-host from the audience join him on the set for chat time and to play skewed versions of game shows (like "Caliendo Squares," an all-Frank version of Hollywood Squares) for a portion of each show.
Is it any good?
There's no doubt that teens and adults will crack up at Caliendo's impressive impressions, and with a range of characters that includes sports gurus like Terry Bradshaw and John Madden, culture icons like Robin Williams and Sean Connery, and -- comedy's favorite fall guys -- politicians like Bill Clinton, Frank has a little something for everyone.
But even though most of the show's humor is derived from exaggerations of quirky personalities, skits sometimes touch on more mature topics like sexuality and drinking, and there's a bit of strong language (mostly along the lines of "hell" and "ass"). So it's worth a quick preview before sharing it with your kids. That said, they may already be familiar with Caliendo's work thanks to his visibility on Web sites like YouTube and MySpace, which has contributed to his rising popularity among fans. If you're trying to deter your teens' interest in sites like these, whetting their appetite for more Frank might not be the best move.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how different media platforms help entertainers promote their work. Teens: Do you download music, movies, or other media from the Internet? Are there any drawbacks to this new technology? What does it take to become a "celebrity" in today's media world? Families can also discuss different types of comedy. Do you like Caliendo's comedy style? Why or why not? What are some of your favorite comedians? How does their style compare to his? And what role do issues like sex, language, and stereotypes play in comedy? Do you enjoy comedy that's rooted in mature content? Why or why not?