ESPN Hires Frank Caliendo - Are Pregame Comedians Really Necessary?
By: The Football Girl | Posted: October 11, 2012
This morning ESPN announced they are adding comedian Frank Caliendo to their infinite Sunday NFL Countdown lineup. Caliendo, know largely for impressions, was replaced by Rob Riggle on FOX’s pregame show this season after a multiyear run. He always drew mixed reaction. Most people I know are laughed at him, not with him. And truth be told, if you were to put my tweets into categories, mockery of Caliendo would be one. But he’s clearly enough of a draw that the networks feel the need to keep him infiltrated into our NFL coverage.
Love him or hate him, Caliendo’s brand was successful enough that comedians are now becoming commonplace in our pregame coverage.
Rob Riggle, Caliendo’s replacement on FOX has been legitimately funny. In particular, he debuted with an awesome bit with David Beckham (“real football, Davey!), and then welcomed us to the dark side - the Replacement Ref Complaint Center. Besides far more creativity, Riggle knows his NFL, something we never ascertained from Caliendo. It’s a lot easier to own something when you have a deep understanding of the subject matter. Logic 101.
Even Riggle’s early season success doesn’t mean the comedian thing works in that venue. It really depends on what kind of football fan you are. If you’re in three or more fantasy leagues, you probably just want nuts and bolts information, especially in the hour before game time. If you’re a diehard fan, particularly of a team playing an early game, you probably want to get analysis and reports from the field. But if Sunday is one big party and you’re not swirling with anxiety, these bits are likely more welcome.
One element that has to be universally unappealing, though, is letting the comedian make picks. How can anyone possibly care who Rob Riggle or Frank Caliendo thinks will win, especially when your game is starting in four minutes? (Please America, tell me I’m right on this one.)
But the more important issue is whether or not we need this comedic element in our football zeitgeist. Isn’t the NFL entertaining enough? The cast of characters in the NFL, and the audience’s familiarity with them, runs deeper than any sport. We already have our own crop of actors (Peyton Manning) supermodels (Tom Brady), dancers (Victor Cruz) and comedians (Rex Ryan). These are the front line entertainers; the pregame comedian element just seems second-rate in comparison.
But marrying comedians with the NFL is a trend that is clearly going to continue. ESPN hiring Caliendo is the big news, but even Showtime’s Inside the NFL got in on the “funny” action last night by having standup comedian Bill Burr as a guest. You know CBS will likely follow suit.
At least those of us on the “nah” side of the comedian debate will get to fill our mockery quota for the week.
Tell us what you think! Do comedians in NFL pregame shows add value?
Plus, does the read option have a future and Tom Brady continues to be perfect. ...Read More05-19-2013 | Comments (0)
Will Darrelle Revis play all 16 games? Will Percy Harvin end the season with 1000 yards? Go ahead and place some fake bets. We did. ...Read More05-17-2013 | Comments (0)
After a disappointing 2012 campaign, Philadelphia has brought in a new coach to turn around the team's fortunes. Will Chip Kelly deliver? ...Read More05-16-2013 | Comments (0)