Saturday, February 11, 2012


As a performer, Frank Caeti toured for The Second City in the National Touring Company for over two years and had the pleasure of traveling to some incredible places including a USO tour for the troops in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Germany. He performed in the resident company in Las Vegas, and wrote two revues for Chicago's e.t.c. stage. Frank graduated from the Second City Conservatory in 1997 and has taught for SC since 2001. He spent two seasons as a ensemble member on the FOX show MADtv. Other tv/film credits include: Reno 911, NCIS, TV Guide Channel Best of, The Lakehouse, Stranger than Fiction, Bad Meat, and over two dozen commercials. He is a founding member of the musical long form Whose Chorus Line is it Anyway? and The Hot Karl. Other theater/improv credits include: ComedySportz Chicago, ImprovOlympic, Bills and Caeti, The Armando Show, iO West, Reverie (2009 Just for Laughs Montreal), Live Bait Theater, Chicago Dramatist's Workshop. In Los Angeles he performs regularly with FrankenMatt and Tres at Second City, Only in LA at UCB, and The Armando Show at iO West. You can see him perform with Matt Craig in American Imperil, Friday nights at 8pm at Second City Hollywood.

Tell us about your experience on MADtv and how your Second City training helped you on the job.

Oh, it helped immensely. Who I am as a performer, and my opinions, my point of view and voice as a writer and performer was shaped entirely at Second City. Translating that to television was a learning experience because it's quite a different medium with a lot of different people to appease or please. But I feel like it prepared me 100%. Obviously, there's a learning curve because there is a difference. There was a big difference in the point of view of the show, and how you fit in in that regard. My training as a student in the training center and then the training I got being a touring company member, and resident company member, was invaluable to that. And frankly, I probably wouldn't have gotten that job if I didn't work for Second City.

Tell us about your very first improv show, and how you felt about it.

It was probably in college. My college didn't have a college improv group, so we put one together. It was when improv was getting bigger, and a lot of college groups were starting. So, I'm going to call that my first improv show, because that's the one I remember. We got it at a local theater in my college town, and I think it went pretty well. We were very enthusiastic. We were doing short form. We had a very, very friendly crowd, but it probably wasn't, in the spectrum of my work, the best work I had done. But it was absolutely fun and enthusiastic, so I feel like it was a success. There were many after those that were absolute failures. And you learn from those and grow. You almost learn more from the ones that suck than the ones that go really well. I always feel like at Second City, we're more apt to go across the street and talk in the bar about the show that went terribly than the one that went really well. If it went really well, we're like, "Yeah, it was a good show." The other one's like, "Oh my God, it was so bad!" So, yeah, it wasn't that bad. I have a fond memory of that first time out.

Can you tell us something that you do now to keep your improv skills sharp?

Just do it as much as possible. I mean, it never has paid the bills, so it's purely for the love of the game. You have to do it. Repetition is a big part of it. I now can be very selective where I do it and who I do it with. I'm very fortunate to have several opportunities to perform in different theaters and stuff, so that's very cool. But I like to do it as much as I can. I don't know if I could do it seven days a week at this point, because I have a family and a life. There was a time when I first got my job at MAD, when I first moved to Los Angeles, where I was so focused on the job that I wasn't improvising, and it had been the longest sustained period that I wasn't improvising since I had become an improvisor. I was very unhappy, because you don't get to control your ideas as much when you're working for a television show as opposed to improv - it's so free. I just try to do it as much as I can. So I consistently do ten shows a month, which probably averages to two or three a week, somewhere around there, which is great. So I kinda feel sharp. Sometimes more than that, sometimes less, but right around there.

Can you give some advice for people who are just starting out in sketch and improv?

Choose a different career. [Laughs] No, no, I would never... I was inspired to do it, I saw it at the Second City, specifically in Chicago, and said, "That's what I want to do. That's it." I'd say you absolutely have to train. Absolutely get as much stage time as you can. Be a wonderful person to work with, with a good attitude. The improvisational world is very welcoming and giving, but sometimes it can seem isolating as well, so make sure you're doing your best and doing your hardest work. But also, the business in general is probably a little bit more difficult than the improv world is, because the improv world is naturally collaborative. It's a pretty nice place to live in. Everybody roots for each other, and that's really a great place to be.

1 comment:

  1. Well written interview! It really captures the "in the moment" attitude that is improv. Frank is too modest when he reflects on his natural inate abilities. From a very young age, Frank was able to react quickly and humorously to anything happening around him! Formal study and performing just honed his natual ability!