It took seven years of waiting tables in LA before he’d catch his big break, but Sebastian Maniscalco knew he would be a comedian since day one. He has been featured on Leno, Comedy Central and HBO, and January 26 to 29 he played a local run at The Stress Factory in New Brunswick.
“Its 60 degrees in LA and people start breaking out their North Face. They wouldn’t last a day in Jersey” the 39 year old, Chicago native joked.
Maniscalco has national tour dates lined up for the next year. He sold out his opening night at The Stress Factory and two shows the following day.
Maniscalco’s material comes from his life experiences. He jokes about growing up in an all Italian household but steers clear of Italian cliches. His Stress Factory set included bits on flip flop sandals, picking out a grill at Home Depot, extreme water slides and the chaos that is shopping at TJ Maxx.
In one piece he talks about teaching his dad how to use the computer. Maniscalco instructed his father to “open the window,” to which his father responded: “Why? It’s freezing outside!” The whole set was so funny that the man beside me was jumping out of his chair.
Maniscalco also riffs off his audience and routinely steps away from planned material. Looking around the room at The Stress Factory people were falling out of their seats laughing, and some were scared they might be Maniscalco’s next victim.
In a brief interview with The VOICE Maniscalco said the audience’s reaction can be the best part of the show. He said one of his favorite memories on stage was during The Wild West Comedy Show with Vince Vaughn, when he got a standing ovation in Nashville, Tennessee.
Comedy show fanatic and Monmouth University graduate, Agata Gorski, said of Maniscalco’s performance, “It’s one of the better shows I’ve seen in a small venue.” She went on to say that she loved the way he connected with the audience, and that everything he joked about she could relate to.
As for the venue, however, The Stress Factory is literally stressful. The tables are too close together and waiters and waitresses have to lean over guests to get other guest’s orders.
Tara Weiss a 22-year-old audience member from Bordentown NJ, complained of the “awkward” service and high prices. With a minimum purchase of 2twoitems off the menu or more, per person, you are forced to spend some money. It’s worth going to see a great performer like Maniscalco, but the venue wouldn’t be worth the effort for a lesser act.
Maniscalco has shows set up all across the states for the next year already booked. He will be back in the tri-state area at the end of April in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ. Maniscalco also has a TV special on Showtime airing now called What’s Wrong with People.