Comedian Sebastian Maniscalco still feels slightly inadequate 19 years into his career. When a venue’s first show sells out and rolls into a second gig, he questions his ability to fill seats.
“I keep asking myself, ‘Is there enough demand to do another one?’
“I’ve been very fortunate to be adding shows and selling out. People are gravitating toward me. They turn on the news and there are politics and football kneeling. I don’t touch any of that. I like observational stuff and family stuff. I take the people away from the craziness of the world, and I have them forget that for an hour and 15 minutes.”
When Maniscalco plays two shows at the Celebrity Theatre on Saturday, November 4, fans can expect to hear humor based on his family, including his 5-month-old baby. Maniscalco won’t recall jokes from his Showtime special, Why Would You Do That?
“The material you’re going to see is not all that familiar,” he says. “I’m working on the next special. When folks ask me, ‘Is this going to be what we saw on TV?’ My answer is no. I’m always writing new stuff. I have a brand-new baby, who’s 5 months old. There’s a lot of new stuff I’m talking about on stage. With life comes new material.”
Maniscalco has been writing material since he sat around the kitchen table with his parents and sister in Chicago. He told humorous stories about what happened during his day. Maniscalco knew he would go into stand-up comedy.
“I was never the class clown at all,” he adds. “But I really relished those moments when I had to get up before the class and do a book report.
“After college, I moved to Los Angeles, not knowing anybody. Each year, it got progressively better. Nineteen years later, I’m doing the Celebrity Theatre.”
He managed to keep his morale up when his career was looking bleak.
“You never know what’s around the corner in this business,” Maniscalco says. “If you have a 9-to-5 job, you know what to expect day to day. But someone may see your act, and the next time, you’re on a big TV show.
“The excitement of the unknown is a huge reason why I like the business, and a big reason why there’s no stability. You just have to balance it.”
Maniscalco sees a hearty 2018. He’ll release a book in April called Stay Hungry, a tome that traces his career since his move to Los Angeles. He recently announced dates for his Stay Hungry Tour, and he’ll continue his SiriusXM show with fellow comic Pete Correale. Finally, he’ll appear in the film Tag, with Jeremy Renner and Jon Hamm about 40-year-old men who still play tag. The film, slated for release on June 29, is based on a true story.
So, what’s the key to his success?
“I laugh at myself, and my fans laugh at themselves,” he says. “You don’t have to hear anything about politics or social awareness. We don’t want any of that crap.”
Sebastian Maniscalco, Celebrity Theatre, 440 N. 32nd Street, Phoenix, 602.267.1600, celebritytheatre.com, 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, November 4, $43.75-$285.