The subject line quote is courtesy of "Frank TV" star Frank Caliendo, who discovered quickly what a tough room the TCA can be.
Because press tour is, in theory, an information-gathering exercise, performing for the critics in general and performing comedy in particular can be a minefield. Sometimes, it'll get a big laugh, like a session last year for "The Naked Trucker and T-Bones Show" where the stars not only sang for us, but spent the entire press conference in character. But if you come out, do jokes and then fail to get a laugh, well... there's a reason comics refer to it as "dying."
So Caliendo came out and trotted out his usual impressions -- President Bush, John Maddem, Robin Williams -- and if crickets could survive within the all-powerful air-conditioning system of the Beverly Hilton, you would have heard them chirping.
Not to be deterred, Caliendo kept going, no matter how stony the faces in the audience were.
"You guys are really starting to feel like you don't need to be here for this," he quipped after yet another joke bombed. Again, silence.
But persistence has its virtues, and midway through the session, Caliendo randomly did his impression of The Penguin from "Batman" (that, or he was doing his impression of Jon Stewart's impression of Dick Cheney) and the chuckles were audible -- so much so that Caliendo literally jumped up out of his chair, raised his arms in triumph and declared, "That's the laugh I've been looking for! You're finally getting it!"
And, of course, once you get a crowd to laugh, it's easier to keep them laughing. The volume never rose much above, say, a guffaw, but he also got good responses to impressions both familiar (Charles Barkley) and esoteric (Jeff Goldblum).
And, in between, we managed to ask a few questions. I brought up the plague-like barrage of "Frank TV" ads that aired during last year's baseball playoffs, and asked whether Caliendo had maybe asked his bosses to tone it down this fall. Sadly, the answer was no.
"They worked," he said, while acknowledging that some of that work involved annoying baseball fans with the same three clips played ad nauseum. He then apologized in advance for TBS' plan to show even more "Frank TV" spots this time around.