Ask comedian Sebastian Maniscalco what he’s currently stressing over, and he doesn’t hesitate — home remodeling. Specifically his. “We have the contractors, and trying to figure out what tile to pick out," he says. "People out there they can’t get work and they’re hungry and in the grand scheme of things it’s probably not stressful for most people. But for me right now, one thing I’m concentrating on is remodeling my house and mining the material. There’s a lot of things there relationship-wise to pull for comedy, as well as the day-to-day, dealing with contractors and all that. So that’s first and foremost on my mind.”
And home remodeling is just the tip of Maniscalco’s iceberg of bewilderment. Much of the material for his three comedy specials and tours (he stops in Addison this week) comes from his astonishment with modern society’s unspoken rules and the juxtaposition of current culture against his upbringing in a hardworking, "half-Sicilian, half-Italian" immigrant family. “Those values ... have been a catalyst for my comedy,” he says. "I’m like, 'Wow, I guess a lot of people didn’t have this type of upbringing' … that old world technique of, you know, nothing’s given to you, you’ve gotta work for everything you’ve done… It’s just different from what I’m seeing today.” While the Millennial generation leaves a bit to be desired for the comedian, that doesn’t mean he’s totally out of touch. He’s made a name for himself on social media, namely Twitter and Instagram.
“Although my values and my morals are old school, you have to kind of key into the landscape of social media and how the world is progressing,” he says. “I’d be a fool to sit there and go, ‘Yeah, let’s use the telephone to telemarket myself’… Social media is something that I definitely have to tap into, to another demographic.” His specialty? Catching people minding their own business in the most cringe-worthy ways, capturing it all on video and throwing it up online with a Maniscalco-themed hashtag. Lately, he’s been asking people “Why would you do that?” via hashtag. And while it’s doubtful his video stars will ever respond, at least Maniscalco’s found someone who understands his frustrations — fellow comedian and podcast co-host Pete Correale.
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Launched in October 2012, The Pete and Sebastian Show podcast provides listeners with a “fly on the wall” point of view as the two successful stand ups catch up on their week over Skype (Pete’s in New York and Sebastian’s in Los Angeles). They talk about anything and everything, just like a normal phone convo between buddies. Except it’s hilarious. The two met about five years ago during a Just for Laughs comedy tour in Toronto. “We became fast friends, hanging out with each other for seven days on a tour bus,” Maniscalco says. “We really related to one another. Pete’s a very funny guy and, me being a comedian, I just really love to laugh, so…we established a friendship." A little over a year later. Maniscalco suggested they start a podcast. It would be a conversation between two comedians. Now he uses a lot of the material created there in his act. A story about he and his wife's visit to a Turkish bath. "I ended up telling that story on stage — tightening it up and trimming the fat off it. So sometimes it’s a good creative outlet for me,” he says.
So if you’re an avid Pete and Sebastian listener, you might recognize some of Maniscalco’s act this weekend when he plays Addison Improv, a club he’s committed to keep playing, even as he starts filling large auditoriums and theaters.
“I’ve been coming to Dallas now for, I dunno, 10 years, at the Addison Improv there. I started there — a guy by the name of Freddy Soto brought me into the Addison Improv in 2003 to open up for him for a New Year’s Eve show. And ever since then I’ve become fast friends with the club managers and owners and the staff there. And I’ve been coming back once a year ever since," Maniscalco says. And that’s one of the clubs that I really look forward to on the schedule.” And we’re glad to have you, Sebastian.
Sebastian Maniscalco will be at the Addison Improv this Thursday through Saturday. Tickets are available online.