You probably saw the clip of Sebastian Maniscalco on Facebook before you learned to pronounce his name. (If you have, that is.) The viral snippet that helped launch the career of the wildly hilarious and now iconic comedian is something all of us past a certain age can relate to: the excitement of the doorbell ringing. Back in the ’70s and ’80s. Certainly not now.
Back then, the doorbell was met with excited fervor. In the age before cell phones, there was the surprise factor of an unexpected guest. It was the age of in-person drop-ins. And of course, your mother had coffee cake and Sanka at the ready.
Now? When actual phone calls with real voices are a thing of the past? Not so much.
Maniscalco, who kicked off an unprecedented and record-breaking 10 sold-out-gig residency at The Paramount in Huntington on Feb. 1, with performances through Feb. 7 as part of his current Why Would You Do That? comedy tour, has that rare ability to find the hilarity in the mundane and to bring it to extremely funny heights. (Let’s put it this way: Long Island’s own King of Mundane Hilarity Jerry Seinfeld is a super-fan!)
“All 10 Sebastian Maniscalco shows at The Paramount sold out very quickly in what is an unprecedented record-breaking run for any single performer at our venue in our five-year history,” The Paramount’s marketing director, Adam Ellis, tells the Press. “Sebastian is clearly one of the most popular comedians currently touring and we are honored to have him perform on our stage!”
Why Would You Do That? is the also the name of the 43-year-old’s fourth stand-up special on Showtime, comprised of footage from a seven-show residency he did at New York City’s Beacon Theatre. Yet his current stature as a present-day comedic superstar sharing the bill of The Paramount’s ongoing “Winter Comedy Series”—such as Long Island’s own Jim Breuer, who’s performing a three-peat at the venue on Feb. 11—is the result of years of hard work, seizing opportunities, and a few lucky breaks.
Maniscalco moved to L.A. from the outside of Chicago nearly 20 years ago to pursue his comedic dreams, telling the Los Angeles Times from a booth inside his former employer, the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, where he waited on tables and stars from 1998 to 2005, that he’d perform at any venue that had an open mic, including bowling alleys and coffeehouses.
“Whatever had comedy I was there,” he told the newspaper. “I always had it in my head: One day, I’m going to be on this side of the table.”
Eventually, armed with an ever-evolving arsenal of hilarious everyday observations, and the support of his manager at the hosh-posh restaurant, Maniscalco would escape to perform sets at the famed Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard during his breaks.
The rest, as they say, is comedic history.
The cadence of his voice is unmistakably his own, as unique to Maniscalco as his fingerprints. Drawn out, affected, and with emphasis on every single syllable if that is even possible, Maniscalco has a voice that continues to play in your head long after you’ve seen him perform.
And if you are from an Italian-American family (as so many of us here on Long Island are), you will relate not only to the stark differences between his upbringing and his non-Italian wife’s, but his view on parenthood, fashion (“Ladies, get yourself a nice wedge”), gainful employment, how much to share with your mom, and the vision of his grandmother slapping together lasagna in the basement. You are guaranteed to cringe, hold your head in your hands, and literally LOL.
Grab all your cousins and catch one or a handful of his 10 performances at The Paramount. Then go home and give your mom a call.
Italian-American actor, writer and stand-up comedian Sebastian Maniscalco is best known for his comedy specials What’s Wrong with People?, Aren’t You Embarrassed? and Why Would You Do That? Maniscalco also appeared on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He was one of five comics chosen to be in Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show. He’ll be doing a run of 10 shows launching his Why Would You Do That? Tour.
Sebastian Maniscalco kicked off his 10-show residency at The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington, on Feb. 1. It runs through Feb. 7. For tickets and more information, visit paramountny.com