Sebastian Maniscalco wants to know where all the Italians in San Jose are. Near the end of our very brief phone conversation, I tell him there’s a pretty big Italian community in San Jose (of which I am a proud part, thank you very much). “Yeah, where are they?” he quickly asks, the most animated he has sounded since I took his call twelve minutes earlier. It sounds like it’s something he’s been wondering for a while.
Born into an Italian family in the suburbs of Chicago, Maniscalco was on track to enter the service and hospitality industry with his family before he decided to drop the act and pick up a new one—a comedy act. “You know, in Italian families, you can’t just move out of the house so fast,” he says. “But I knew very early on that I couldn’t work a 9 to 5. It was just a matter of when, how, where to tell my family.”
In 1998, after receiving a degree in something called Corporate Organizational Communications, he packed up, went out west and waited tables while waiting for his career to gather steam. After eight years of juggling stand-up and restaurant jobs, he was recruited for Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show in 2006. From there, he rose to fame as one of a handful of perpetually pissed-off comics. Maniscalco is known for his disdain for technology and high prices, but he wants people to know he’s actually a pretty nice guy. “It’s all a heightened reality,” he says. “It is who I am, but I don’t say things to people when I’m out and about. It’s an internal dialogue I think everyone has.”
He’s certainly miffed most of the time, but that’s not to say he’s offensive. His delivery is affable enough for him to be featured on late-night talk shows like The Tonight Show and The Late Late Show. “I’ve always prided myself on not being dirty; I don’t talk much about sex, or drugs, or any of that. That’s not who I am. And it is good, because it does expose me to a wider audience.” But that doesn’t mean he holds back. Maniscalco expresses opinions on everything from first dates to fashion to Jersey Shore.
He’s bringing his current tour to San Jose this week. Those with (or without) any percentage of Italian heritage should come down to the Improv and show Maniscalco that San Jose loves Italians.