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Sebastian Maniscalco opted for a retro Rat Pack vibe for his fourth Netflix stand-up special, filming in Las Vegas at the Wynn Resort and Casino, and donned a tuxedo for the occasion. Would his material for this hour follow suit, so to speak?

The essentials: Peter Segal (tommy boy, 50 first dates, The longest yard) directs Maniscalco in this more intimate Vegas showroom setting, while the comedian’s star and profile has continued to rise, guiding his comedy tours into arenas and him from the support of (The Irishman, Green Book) to lead roles on screen. He’s set to star in a Chuck Lorre HBO Max series soon. How to become a bookmakerand next year to be seen on the big screen alongside Robert De Niro About my father.

Much of Maniscalco’s stand-up focuses on observational comedy, filtered through his Italian-American upbringing and punctuated with physical action. This class is no exception, though he may not be lolling quite as much in his tuxedo. He jokes about how “Date Night” with his wife shows how differently they progress through life’s little moments, how he learned through his two young children’s school, how differently he sees the world now than other parents, and how his elderly father is nearing the end of his life.


What comedy specials will it remind you of?: Maniscalco is one of a handful of stand-ups, mostly from Los Angeles, who have carved out such specific personalities and viewpoints (Iliza Shlesinger is another). Both toured under their first names for a while. They’ve also both become comedy influencers (on stage, if not online).

Memorable Jokes: Maniscalco’s experience in the restaurant business stands him in good stead, as he explains how inappropriate his wife’s habits are when they go out to dinner on Tuesdays for their weekly date night (because the comedian obviously works weekends). Therefore, observing her attempt to ask the waiter for help, of course, will be unsuccessful. “He doesn’t really know!” says Sebastian. “The only Tito he knows washes dishes in the back of the restaurant.”

A middle-aged man with two young children, he also finds great joy in feeling out of place both in the classroom and on the soccer field. He has some unique advice for his three-year-old son to keep his child’s confidence while placating his teacher, but out on the field he is distracted by a Greyhound whipping through his child’s practice.

At that moment, the famous Maniscalco transforms into the Greyhound, racing through the wind with its ears flattened. Only, now at 49 and in a tuxedo, his impersonation of the dog may have led to unintended consequences. “I think I split my pants there,” he admits to us.

Our opinion: At one point, Maniscalco also demonstrates a game called Gagootz, which his family insisted on at birthday parties when he was young, in which the child puts a zucchini between his knees and then tries to walk over it and go to another child without to use his hands.

But shortly before that, he laments the state of life today. People think it’s better? he asks himself. “Look around. It’s annoying.”

Why is it shit now? To hear him say it, paying attention to what you say around other adults sucks. Because if a classmate of his 5-year-old daughter wants to identify himself as a lion, he has to bite his tongue. Or that he feels that space is distorted when he describes another elementary school parent as Asian because “you can’t even mention someone’s origins when you’re describing them.” He claims it’s very relevant at the end of the story, but is it really? The fact that the “Indian” way of sitting for toddlers is now called “Criss-Cross applesauce” is obviously too much of a good thing for him. “You don’t know what’s taboo until you say it,” he says. Good yes. Some things should be obviously offensive to you before you say them, while others aren’t so obvious, and if you don’t learn by observing the mistakes of others, then you will invariably be the one making that mistake. It feels a bit knee-jerk and defensive at this point watching my fellow demographics trip over themselves and engage in proactive battles against imaginary enemies.

Maniscalco is a little more assertive when speaking about a very real, very divisive issue, like the pandemic and people’s attitudes towards masks and vaccines. Just when you think he’s going to taunt a viewer for wearing a mask, he turns to stalk the loudmouths, who refuse to cover theirs. And his attitude and reasoning to get the vaccine himself? Feels completely at home in his role as a comedian.

Our appeal: Stream it. I don’t think this is his finest hour per se, but for someone trying to turn back the clock it’s another solid, reliable hour of entertaining comedy.

Sean L. McCarthy edits the comedy beat for his own digital newspaper, The comic of the comic; before that for real newspapers. Based in NYC but travels everywhere for news: ice cream or news. He also tweets @thecomicscomic and podcasts half-hour episodes featuring comedians revealing origin stories: Comic’s comic presents last things first.

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