Sebastian Maniscalco: What’s Wrong With People?

| March 22, 2012

Sebastian Maniscalco takes the stage in this hour long stand-up special, discussing such humorous topics as his Italian heritage, the do-it-yourself checkout lanes at the supermarket, and the differences between dating now and dating when he was a teen. Sounds like fairly typical stand-up fodder, but Maniscalco does manage put a fresh spin on the typical stand-up routine solely with the way he performs his act. His physicality on stage, and his ability to deliver the simplest of jokes with absolute comedic precision is remarkable, and makes for a very entertaining hour of television.

The theme of Maniscalco’s special (as the title suggests) is the distinct downfall of intelligence in our society. He reminisces about when he was a kid, and company would come to his house unexpectedly, and his mother would happily invite the person in for crumb cake and coffee. Comparing that to today, where an entire family today will kill the lights and sit in complete silence to avoid having to answer the door to an unexpected guest. It is exaggeration, of course, but it certainly makes for a very humorous special.

At another point in the special, Maniscalco discusses how the wooing of women at night clubs has devolved from something smooth (cooly asking the lady to dance) to something brutish (publicly mounting the young woman while she’s not looking). These slight shifts in context from Maniscalco’s youth to today create a seemingly limitless mode for satire. His audience goes right along for the ride as well. His routine is infinitely relatable to anyone who has ever run into one of these idiots in the real world. I watched the special with my dad, and he was even able to anticipate where several of Maniscalco’s routines were going because of similarities to his own life when he was younger.

Special features include a series of short videos. One is a sketch entitled “Getting to the Stage,” where Maniscalco literally just tries to get up to the stage to start his show and faces an array of unhelpful people with their faces buried in their phones (much in keeping with the special’s theme of inconsiderate and unbelievably stupid people.) Another special feature documents fan reactions after the show, including several who do impersonations of Maniscalco (quite well actually) and a couple of words from his mother and sister. This is interesting because his sister tells the camera that all the people he complains about in his special are actually doing things that he did and he’s too embarrassed to admit it. Finally, the last special feature can really only be described as an alternate ending to the stand-up special. An added bit, just for the audience sitting in the theatre where he urges them to come say hi and get a picture after the show. Each of these is very short, but good for a couple of laughs.

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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