Sebastian Maniscalco is not your typical comedian. His jokes require a three-prong approach: his words, his facial expressions and then accented by fully acted out body movements.
“Growing up in an Italian family, we used our body to convey a message,” Maniscalco says. “It’s not something I set out to do. It kind of just happened.”
His unique style has put this 42-year-old from the northwest suburbs of Chicago on a launchpad to become the next big comedy star. Last year, Maniscalco played 12 sold-out shows at Governor’s Comedy Club in Levittown. This year he’s headlining seven shows May 1-9 at the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan, which will be filmed for his next Showtime special, “Why Would You Do That?”
“People come to a show then they go back to their neighborhood and it has become like word-of-mouth,” says Maniscalco. “Everybody loves to turn somebody on to something. It kind of just snowballed.”
Most of his material riffs on being raised in an old-school environment with an immigrant father, or just expressing his amazement at people’s outlandish behavior.
“I developed a knack for storytelling early on around the kitchen table with my family,” Maniscalco says. “I just happen to be a funny guy.”
Recently Maniscalco filmed a pilot for NBC called, “Sebastian Says,” about a man who’s caught between his modern wife and traditional Italian family, with Tony Danza playing his father.
“There’s a device in the sitcom where I’ll shoot out of the scene and talk to the camera as everything is happening around me. It allows me to do stand-up in a way and show my physicality,” Maniscalco says. “We think we got one to go to series, but you never know.”
Maniscalco will also appear in the upcoming films “Cruise” and Will Ferrell’s next project “The House” and provide the voice of Johnny the chipmunk in “The Nut Job 2.” He also has a book coming out, “Where You Wanna Eat?” However, no matter what comes his way, he won’t abandon the stage.
“I’ll never stop doing stand-up,” Maniscalco says. “There’s nothing better than getting in front of 2,500 people and making an entire room laugh.”