Posts Tagged “Sebastian Maniscalco”

The Phenomenon Known As Sebastian

There’s only a handful of comedians that can fill an arena like Madison Square Garden with 20,000 seats, much less four shows over one weekend!  That’s 80,000 people who came out in the cold and pouring rain to see Sebastian Maniscalco do his thing on his Stay Hungry Tour.

There’s also very few performers who only need one name to identify them. Oprah, Cher, Elvis! Nobody ever said Elvis who? And now there’s Sebastian, holding it down in the comedy world!

I who drive everywhere had a feeling that wouldn’t be a good idea this night so I called for an Uber. I’m basically right across town from MSG, so theoretically it should take a good 15-20 minutes to get there.

The VIP meet and greet was set for 9-10 P.M. between his last two shows. I was told to go to the 8 Penn Plaza entrance which is for employees and media, and make my way to the 5th floor and then down to the third floor for the party.

The car picked me and my date up at 8:15, and I arrived at 8 Penn Plaza just past 9:30 after having to get out and walk the last four blocks in the pouring rain which had been predicted to be snow. For whatever reason traffic was INSANE. Much worse than usual. Every block, every avenue backed up! So lucky I didn’t drive.

As we walked over  we saw huge billboards with Sebastian’s face on them announcing his show. I got excited just by seeing them. Most comics have the experience of seeing their face on a flier, but to see your entire being on a billboard in Times Square has to be beyond belief.

And in the Garden he and Pete Correale were up on the Jumbotron for their podcast “The Pete and Sebastian Show”!

The lines outside of MSG were crazy but I thought we’d have an easier time at the 8 Penn Plaza entrance. WRONG!!! The line was out through the door and into the street. We managed to get inside where it seemed like nobody was moving. They had metal detectors and heavy security but nobody was moving.

I called upstairs to let Sebastian’s Levity Live people know I was finally there, but it was so noisy it was hard to hear anyone. They had my tickets and VIP party passes at a special table, and we just missed an elevator because they said there was no more room. The guards made us put on our VIP passes. We weren’t allowed to just hold them, we had to WEAR them!

We finally got an elevator and the first guy that got in said, ” Hey I know you. Aren’t you the “Master Panelist” from Comics Watching Comics on Amazon Prime?” I admitted that I was, and then another guy got in who referenced me from “Too Much Tuna” with Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, and even the elevator operator said he knew me. That was kind of crazy! Obviously I’m very well known in elevators throughout the land!

When we finally got to the fifth floor, we were ushered vaguely to another place that wasn’t clear but some nice guy said, ” Don’t worry I’ll show you where to go.”

And we finally got there around 9:40 just in time to see Levity’s Alex Goodman standing with Sebastian’s opening act Pat McGann. Alex kindly showed me into the room where Sebastian was mingling and taking photos with the crowd, directed by Levity honcho Judy Marmel.

We got to exchange pleasantries with Sebastian, and I was amazed how calm he was knowing he was about to face 20,000 people in a few minutes, but I guess once you do it three times before, the fourth time feels like “old hat”, as they used to say in 1810!

When we took our seats, in the third row with a great view, I just sat there trying to take in the aura of 20,000 people. As a comic, if a club is full depending on the club there’s maybe 300 people. Lots of clubs have 125. Twenty thousand people is unimaginable, and you really have to put in years of stage time to be able to handle that and not go insane with fear!

You also have to hope they don’t all want to come over your house for a drink afterwards! That call to your wife would be crazy! Honey some people are dropping by. How many? About 20,000!

Pat McGann showed why he was chosen as Sebastian’s opener by doing a strong opening set with great stories about his wife, kids and family in general.

And then it was time for Sebastian, who hit the stage like a rockstar in a sparkly, multi-colored jacket that was the first thing he mentioned.

Then he discussed the fact that people had been wondering whether they’d have to cancel the show because of the weather. He laughingly said something to the effect of,  “Hey this is not a brunch where you can just go, ” The  weather’s not so great. We’ll do it next Thursday! This is Madison Square Garden.  It took me two years to plan this thing. It’s not being cancelled for a little rain.”

He got thunderous applause from the time he came out till the time he left the stage. It’s not only his stage presence, it’s his physicality that always amazes me.  He acts out almost every joke he does and contorts his body so it looks like the people he’s talking about.

He’s married to a Jewish woman which gave him the ability to compare Jews and Italians in talking about his wife’s upbringing as compared to his, and people were absolutely hysterical. A guy near me almost fell out of his seat!

He told great stories too like the time his wife made a one year old birthday party for his daughter and ordered an alpaca to make an appearance. He needed to get a permit for the alpaca and the story was hilarious. He even walked and made faces and noises like an alpaca. That’s not easy to do!

Talking about the condition his wife was in after she gave birth, he said she looked like she had been thrown out of an airplane, and that made me laugh out loud which like many people in comedy I don’t usually do.

I had to learn that early on when writing for very famous comedians who would look at the jokes I wrote and with a very serious face say, ” Oh that’s funny.  And THAT one’s VERY funny. I’m hysterical!”, without even cracking a smile.

He announced the good news that he has a son on the way. Very exciting. He certainly proved why he was worthy of the respect of 80,000 people who braved the freezing cold and rain to come out and join him. I’m sure he could have done at least two more shows.

I really look forward to seeing him again!

 

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Bret Ernst Headlines Gotham Comedy Club

Every so often I get to see someone I’ve only heard about, but never seen before. Such was the case with Bret Ernst who’s based in LA, but Chris Mazzilli makes sure to bring in the best talent from all over and gives them exposure at his clubs. That’s good for me! (LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with headliner Bret Ernst at Gotham Comedy Club!

Bret was one of four comedians featured in Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights – Hollywood to the Heartland, along with Ahmed Ahmed, John Caparulo, and Sebastian Maniscalco.

Bret has also appeared on Comedy Central Presents and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,and was the host of the first season of Love Games: Bad Girls Need Love Too. He also appeared in Ke$ha’s Blah Blah Blah music video.

His Comedy Central 1/2 hour special was voted in the “TOP 5” of all of 2010, and his first comedy album “American Comic” was an instant success, breaking “TOP 10” on iTunes in its first week, so you can see why I was anxious to meet him and see him perform.

JImmy Failla hosting the Bret Ernst show at Gotham Comedy Club!

The always funny Jimmy Failla MC’ed the show and brought up Drew Fraser first. Drew is also a great host and often hosts events for Comedy Central. He said he’d rather get sick and lose weight than go to the gym. I often thought of that in terms of getting a high fever and hallucinating instead of taking drugs. It’s a legal way to hallucinate! But who do you go to to score a high fever???

Drew also talked about The Pope quitting, and said, ” you know the economy is bad when G-d starts laying people off!”

And on Latina women, he said they don’t age well. He was dating a girl who started out looking like J Lo and wound up looking like Ceelo!

Rachel Feinstein was next and she’s one of my faves! I love when she imitates her Mom talking about a joke she finds objectionable and asks Rachel, ” Can you take that joke out of your talent show?” She calls her act a “talent show”! That’s hysterical!

Rachel Feinstein onstage at Gotham, … as funny as she is pretty! Which means VERY!!!

And then she imitates her Mom as a rapper cause she says her Mom thinks she’s Wiz Khalifa! Just the juxtapostion of the words “Mom” and “Wiz Khalifa” in the same sentence you know it has to be funny!

And I’ve never heard another female comic do a guy’s voice as good as Rachel. When she imitates the “street” accents of the guys who cat-call her on the street by commenting on her appearance with lines like, ” Oh Mami, don’t do that to me!” … as if she purposely looks so sexy just to turn them on, she answers in her grandmother’s Jewish sounding voice with a come-back like, “I’m sorry Jorge,(Pronounced Hor-hay!), I guess I’m up to my old tricks again!” I could watch her all night!

Rachel Feinstein in one of her many characters, probably scolding some street guy who came onto her!

But her set ended and Bret Ernst took the stage to rousing applause. His crowd knew he was coming and turned out for him. Right away he proved his likeability, and went into imitating his cousin who tries to be super Italian, where he transforms himself into that “Jersey-shore” kind of Italian guy, even making up words and phrases like when requesting to use the GPS he’s like, “Put it in the “navigashe!”. Go to a restaurant and make a “reservache”! Just realizing that you understand what he’s saying, even using those made up words is funny in itself!

He has a great comedy voice, which not all comics have. Certain voices are better attuned for comedy than others and he has a good one! He also does a super “drunk” voice as well.

Bret Ernst in one of his many funny facial expressions to go along with his funny act!

Raised by a single Mom he wonders whether there are really any Dads anymore. Kids these days have “Dad sightings!” I think I saw your Dad in the mall!

Currently a bachelor, he explains that a “promise ring” is a ring that buys you some time. He wonders about all the rings you have to buy a girl these days, a promise ring, an engagement ring, a wedding ring. How many rings do you need? What are you Saturn?

Then he riffs on “Save the Date” cards. It’s basically a card that tells you to expect a card. He says it’s like me calling you up and telling you to hang up so I can call you back, “Yo, hang up! I’m gonna call you!” A great example of how comics take everyday things and occurrences that most people don’t notice, and make them funny.

Bret Ernst headlining and killing it at Gotham Comedy Club!

Talking about girls when they’re shopping he says his girl would say something like, ” That shirt would be great in Aruba!” He’s like, ” I don’t even know where that is!”

And he goes on to explain that girls make things more complicated than they have to be because they don’t know what they want. They live in a fantasy. They want to have fun but they make it impossible by coming up with things out of their head like ” I wanna go to a restaurant with a Mariachi band and a harp”, like an imaginary restaurant that only exists in Oz!

I’m really glad I got to see Bret Ernst and I hope I get to see him again soon!

Bret Ernst with his new fan, Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV!

Bret currently resides in Los Angeles, and hosts his own podcast on Tuesday nights at 9pm Pacific at the gocast.com network. If he likes this piece, maybe he’ll have me on as a guest???

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Sebastian Rocks Gotham Comedy Club

I first met Sebastian on the Kandy Kruise, a special charity cruise from Cali to Mexico that had 500 guys and 1500 girls. All the girls were from Playboy, Penthouse, Maxim, … you get the idea. It was a very quiet, relaxing cruise! (LOL) He was performing with Cort McKown from Playboy Comedy.

Sebastian Maniscalco and Cort McKown on the Kandy Cruise back in 2007!

Then I saw him again with Russell Peters on Russell’s Best of the Fest show in Montreal at the Just for Laughs Festival, and ran into him again when I was out in Cali doing Nick Kroll’s upcoming show on Comedy Central.

This week, Sebastian has been having sold out shows at The Gotham Comedy Club as part of the NY Comedy Festival, and if you have to ask “Sebastian who” you’re not in “the know”! ( To use an expression from 1810! LOL) One name is all he needs like Cher, Lindsay, Brad, … very rare for a comedian!

Sebastian, killing it onstage at Gotham Comedy Club in one of his 6 sold-out shows for the NY Comedy Festival!

He’s lucky he’s so well known cause “Sebastian Maniscalco” is not fitting on a marquee that easily! I popped in to see him last night and not only was my usual table filled, but the entire place was so packed, I wound up standing, which is something I don’t do. When I see a show at Gotham I’m popping up every few minutes to shoot photos, so I cant be wedged into a seat where I have to disturb other customers every time I get up.

Gotham is built for filming and shooting photos as they have a private passageway in the back of the room where you can shoot through glass. Sebastian’s show was so good, I made the decision to stand. So I positioned myself back there and took all the shots I needed.

First the show was MC’ed by Angelo Lozada, who I think is one of the best hosts out there today. There’s a special thing about being a host. Besides having great material, you have to be able to warm up the audience with some crowd work, and get people in the mood for a show. Angelo is very strong when it comes to that, and he knows how to put people in their place very gently but effectively.

Angelo Lozada hosting Sebastian’s show at Gotham Comedy Club!

Mark Normand was also on the show. His lines are very clever, and the crowd really liked him.

The very funny Mark Normand onstage at Gotham opening for Sebastian!

But let me see if I can describe what makes Sebastian so special. First of all he had his crowd there. They were there for HIM, and to that there was no doubt! His strength is not only his material, but his physicality. He embodies whatever person it is he’s talking about whether it be male of female, and moves constantly around the stage.

Somehow he manages to create a visual image of what he’s telling you, and with his sculptured and manicured look, when he does his “Italian thing” you could almost see John Travolta in his Saturday Night Fever days, if he had been a stand-up comic. And I mean that with the greatest respect, not as a slam in any way, shape or form!

When Sebastian talks about how in the old days you’d pick up a girl at a club, not only by your approach, but with your dancing, he totally nails it, and his moves are great! I was standing with Chris Mazzilli, the owner of the club and he totally agreed with me.

Sebastian said his tough Italian father never bought him and his siblings things. Instead he told then what kids owned the things they wanted, and where they lived, and left the rest up to them. “You know that dog you want? A kid five blocks away has that dog. That’s your dog.”

And his father always wanted to haggle over a deal. The dentist told him he needed a crown that cost 800 bucks. The father jumped out of the dentist chair and said, ” I got a crown guy. If I pay you cash, how much???” and Sebastian makes the “paying cash hand moves” that we’ve all experienced, with guys like that!

He talks about how badly we’re treated by airline personnel when going through the airport and how the only time they’re happy is when your bag is over the weight limit. “You’re three pounds over” the woman told him. “You have to take out three pounds of clothing.” He said,”And where am I supposed to put it?” And she said, ” In your carry-on!” And he wanted to explode, ” It’s still going on the plane! What’s the difference if it’s inside my luggage or in the overhead compartment? It’s the same three pounds!”

That observation got him an extended applause break of which there were many. And that’s why I put up with standing through the entire show, with no food or drinks. It was that good. And what’s really nice is that he told the entire audience to come and meet him afterwards to take photos if they wanted to. That’s a guy who really appreciates his audience!

I may actually go back to see him again tonight at 8 P.M. I just hope I don’t have to stand again! (LOL)

He’s also doing a new podcast with the very funny Pete Correale, and I can’t wait to check that out as well!

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Sebastian Maniscalco With Sold Out Show at Gotham

The packed room that came to see Sebastian Maniscalco last night at Gotham Comedy Club got an extra little treat, a surprise performance by Jim Gaffigan. After MC Buddy Fitzpatrick’s great warming up of the crowd, which is a rare talent as anyone who’s ever had to warm up a cold crowd can attest to, Jim came on and killed it for ten minutes.

Sebastian Maniscalco destroying the audience on stage at Gotham Comedy Club in NYC!

I’ll never forget when I interviewed Jim for my book, he told me he suffered with severe stage fright for the first six years of his career. You’d certainly never know it and I think of that a lot before I go on stage when I’m feeling a little anxious! You never know what you say to someone that resonates with them and has an affect on their lives.

Jim’s favorite topic seems to revolve around food, and he did a lot of material about McDonalds. Like about how good McDonald’s fries are, but if you try and reheat them in the microwave they become packing peanuts! He even comments on that one loose fry it’s so exciting to find at the bottom of the bag. He calls it “the bonus fry!” It’s always long and you find yourself wondering, ” How did I miss you?”

(L-R) Sebastian Maniscalco, Jim Gaffigan and Gotham owner Chris Mazzilli at Gotham Comedy Club!

He commented on hotels providing stationery, because like me, the moment he checks into a hotel the first thing he likes to do is write a letter!

Next up was Rajiv Satyal, an Indian comic from LA. Russell Peters gave a lot of Indian guys the courage to show they can be funny! (LOL) Rajiv talked about how different ethnicities mispronounce certain sounds in English, like the Asians with “R’s” and “L’s” and the Indians with “V’s” and “W’s”. He went into a Subway looking for a healthy sandwich and the Indian guy behind the counter offered him a “Weggie”, ( pronounced Wedgie!) I think I laughed out loud at that one! Great visual of a guy behind the counter grabbing a customer by the underwear!

Rajiv Satyal on stage at Gotham proving more than one Indian guy can be funny!

Then Sebastian took the stage. The first time I met him was on the Kandy Kruise from LA to Mexico. Five hundred guys and 1500 girls all from Maxim, Playboy and Penthouse. It was sick. and he was one of the “Playboy comics”. Just to get people just to show up for the show at all was a big accomplishment when there’s that many gorgeous girls to look at!

I saw him again this past July in Montreal when he was on Russell Peters’ show “Best of the Fest”, which Russell described as just another night of comedy in LA! (LOL) We were hanging out backstage after the show, where I took the photo below.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Sebastian Maniscalco backstage with Russell Peters in Montreal!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV backstage with Russell Peters at his show in Montreal, “Best of the Fest”!

The thing about Sebastian is that he makes comedy “hip”! Some comics play off their “lameness”, but Sebastian is cool. He slips into his Jersey Shore Italian voice, when he’s talking about the dancing and meeting girls on the club scene, and almost becomes Vinnie Barbarino, for those of you who remember John Travolta in those days. he’s so relaxed, and very physical which I never expect him to be. He dances around and often acts out his material, which is great! Most of the time, I stand there like I’m nailed to the stage! (LOL)

He started out talking about Customer Service at the airport, and how the people who work there look upset that you even showed up to fly. And what if your bag happens to be four pounds over the weight limit? They make you take four pounds of clothing out? And where are you supposed to put it? In your carry-on! It’s still going on the plane!!!

That actually happened to me, but it was about ten pounds I had to take out. Unlike most people, I don’t often travel with a clothing scale, so I’m guessing on the weight of each thing while people are walking by and I’m frantically grabbing things out of my bag and mentally weighing them! Trust me, it’s only funny afterwards!

He’s always busy, so he wonders about these people that have the time to demonstrate in the street, or to show up every day to follow a trial like the Michael Jackson trial. ” Whatta youse people do when there’s no trial? You got nothin’ else to do?

He even talks about “kids these days” without sounding like a comic from the Ed Sullivan days. If his father took him and his family out to eat there was no such thing as saying you didn’t like the food. “Chicken and broccoli? One look from his father and he’d be like, ” Don’t worry, I’ll get it down.” These days kids complain they don’t like the menu, and a Mom might say something like, “Timmy, is that a good choice?”

But when he talked about his Dad not being too tech savvy and he was trying to guide him onto the internet over the phone, that was hysterical! Especially when his Dad asked what to do with the foot pedal! He had put the mouse on the floor trying to work it with his foot! Sebastian had to tell him, ” It’s not a sewing machine Dad, it’s a computer!”

I hope I get to see him again soon! He was really great!

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