If you caught any shots of the ESPN announcing team during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday night, you probably wondered, "Who the heck are those dudes wearing trucker hats that say 'Frank Caliendo,' and why in God's name would they be doing that?" I know I did.
In Boston, the surprising image drew the attention of Toucher and Rich, hosts of the morning show on FM sports talk station 98.5 The Sports Hub (hit the 3:20 mark for their discussion). It also hit the web in a big way when it was deemed post-worthy by Dan Hopper, senior editor at BestWeekEver.tv, who punctuated a fine one-line quip by inventing the wonderful nonsense name "Basketballo McMetajoke, Esq." Like me (and you, probably), they seemed baffled as to why this absurd statement of millinery took place.
I figured there was an explanation, but part of me hoped there wasn't one. I think I want to live in a world where two guys will, apropos of nothing, decide to wear hats emblazoned with a name of a woefully overexposed entertainer to a basketball game, just for poops and giggles.
Well, thanks to following Boston-area comedy venues on Twitter and Facebook, we have our answer: The behatted individuals were father-and-son plants interested in promoting the impressionist's five-nights-a-week show at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
The older gentleman in the black T-shirt is Bill Blumenreich, operator of the Wilbur Theatre, a Boston venue that hosts live music and comedy performances, and former owner of Boston's Comedy Connection nightclub, according to Sean L. McCarthy at The Comic's Comic, a fantastic inside-comedy blog. (Through its @ComedyConnect Twitter account, the Wilbur told Ball Don't Lie that the other hat-wearer in the white shirt whose face is obscured in the screencap above, is "his son Bill Blumenreich Jr.")
I know that Bill Blumenreich ... has Celtics season tickets right behind press row, because I'd seen him on camera before. Well, Blumenreich decided to use his high-profile seat last night to promote Frank Caliendo, and more than a few people noticed.
Asked "What the what????" (four times as curious!) by the ladies at the Boston Herald's Inside Track in a comment on the Wilbur's Facebook post announcing the plug, the theatre replied, "We are calling it Product Placement! Got to support our Vegas show." I'm sure Mr. Caliendo will soon tell us how grateful he is for the exposure in a variety of personae, each wackier than the last.
So, there's your explanation. Be honest: Now that you know the truth, you're kind of wishing it was just two crazy guys that really like Charles Barkley jokes, aren't you?
- Frank Caliendo