Sebastian Maniscalco Waited for His Big Break

Comedian tells tales of life’s little annoyances as well as his experience as a new father

click to enlarge Comedian Sebastian Maniscalco - Photo: Todd Rosenberg
Photo: Todd Rosenberg
Comedian Sebastian Maniscalco
One door is closing and another is opening as comedian Sebastian Maniscalco winds down his Why Would You Do That? tour. The comedian performs Thursday at the Taft Theatre, telling tales of life’s little annoyances as well as his experience as a new father.

To gather material, he has gone back and listened to several episodes of the podcast he does with friend and fellow comic Pete Correale called, simply, The Pete and Sebastian Show. It has become a popular program on SiriusXM satellite and streaming radio.

“We do the podcast via phone,” Maniscalco says. He is based in Los Angeles while Correale lives in western New York, but the two did manage to get together in New York City recently. “When I get to see him in person, it’s always a good night. He’s a pretty funny cat and when we get going it’s really fun to be around.”

The podcast is basically the two comics sharing funny stories about their personal and professional lives. “It’s not guest-driven,” Maniscalco says. “It’s more laid-back. We’re like oil and water. He’s a beer and peanuts kind of guy and I’m a glass of wine and a nice slice of cheese guy, so it works out.”

It’s only recently that Maniscalco has discovered some of those stories could be developed into bits on stage. Another source of material will be his new book, which debuts in February 2018.

“In January I’m going launch a tour called Stay Hungry, which is the same title as the book,” he says. “It’s basically essays about the last 20 years of my career, everything from the jobs I had to moving out to Los Angeles, going into debt, my father getting me out of debt. It’s the ups and downs of a career in stand-up comedy.”

His last day job was at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, where he worked as a waiter. Often, he’d run out on his break and head to the Comedy Store club to do a quick set before hustling back to the hotel. “I wish I would have kept a journal for the sake of memories,” he says.

While he took the job to supplement his income, he promised himself he would never miss an opportunity to perform stand-up — thus the running back and forth.

For those willing to play comedy clubs while unknown, good fortune can strike. Maniscalco recalls the experience of the late comedian Freddy Soto. “He was performing one night and singer Marc Anthony walked in,” he says. “He ended up taking Freddy on the road with him, just because he saw him perform that night.”

Maniscalco himself was fortunate enough to have a manager at the Four Seasons who allowed him to take his half-hour break and go do stand-up. That was more difficult than it might sound.

“It’s not really easy to leave the property and come back,” he says. “In fact, it’s not something I should have been doing in the first place because the Four Seasons operates on such a high level of service and hospitality. For a waiter to leave the property, asking another waiter to watch his section, is not really something they pride themselves on.”

However, for his last four years in that job, he did just that. “I didn’t want to miss the opportunity of doing the material,” he says. “And you never knew who was going to be in the room.”

Looking back, he remembers with regret not paying more attention to the high-brow events that took place at the prestigious Four Seasons. “I really could have educated myself,” he says. “I go out to restaurants now and I’m into wine and food, but I wish I had a little more knowledge. The Four Seasons could have provided a lot of that. It’s like not paying attention in school.”

He may yet parlay that food interest and passion into some sort of TV vehicle, however. “Food is a huge part of my life, growing up in an Italian family,” he says. “My mother and father were always cooking and now my wife and I love to entertain at our house. We got married up in Napa Valley four years ago. It would be nice to turn that into a TV show of some sort, so we’ll see.”

Sebastian Maniscalco performs 7 p.m. Thursday at downtown’s Taft Theatre. Tickets/more info:

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