As the 2015 NFL season was fast approaching, comedian Frank Caliendo pondered his season-opening segment for Sunday NFL Countdown (ESPN, Sunday at 11 a.m. ET).
The impressionist contemplated a skit where he would play different ESPN NFL personalities – Chris Berman, Ron Jaworski, Mel Kiper and Mike Ditka – in a three or four-minute segment. He found one partnering with the Muppets – stars of the new ABC primetime series “The Muppets,” premiering Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m.
Caliendo enlisted Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and other Muppets to join him to preview the 2015 NFL campaign in a piece produced by Zachary Budman.
“Being on ESPN and Sunday NFL Countdown is a dream come true. Working with Frank Caliendo is like meeting everyone at ESPN, all rolled into one person,” said Kermit the Frog. “Frank is so good at becoming Chris, Mel, Ditka and Jaws that some of us didn’t realize he wasn’t the real thing. Boy, is Miss Piggy going to be ticked off when she tries to sell his fake Chris Berman autograph online.”
Caliendo, who recently agreed to a new contract at ESPN, discussed his season-opening segment with Front Row.
Do you have a favorite Muppet?
I would say my sentimental favorite Muppet is Kermit the Frog. I don’t know if he’s the funniest, but he has the most sincere feeling. I think that’s what makes him so lovable. He seems to have the largest range of emotions, and he feels almost human. However, I pretty much love all the Muppets, especially the offbeat characters like Sam Eagle, Bunsen Honeydew, Beaker and Lew Zealand and his boomerang fish.
How did the idea for this season-opening skit come about?
We decided to do the Muppet sketch for a couple of reasons. One, I was looking to do something with some pop culture guest stars and when I was told that the Muppets were available to do something, I jumped at the chance. Secondly, I knew I could pair my characters with them to create funny moments.
Are you working on any new impressions for Countdown this season?
I’m always working on new impressions. Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and anyone else associated with the NFL. But I never know what’s going to actually become good enough to do on TV. I’d like to find some original non-impression characters and sketches to do this year, to give more variety to my Countdown segments.
What are you most looking forward to this season on Sunday NFL Countdown?
I’m just there so I don’t get fined.
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Jim Lewis contributed to this post