Years before the sold-out arenas and the movie roles and the accolades that now list him as one of the top comics in the world, very few people knew the name Sebastian Maniscalco.
That is, until Vince Vaughn introduced him to the world.
Vaughn featured the somewhat rookie comedian and fellow Midwesterner in his 2006 roadshow film “Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights” and it changed Maniscalco’s life.
And Maniscalco never forgot it.
“I told myself that if I ever get in the position to get behind someone like that, I would do it,” Maniscalco says during a recent Zoom chat. “When you are good, good things happen.”
And good things are now happening for local stand-up comedian Pat McGann.
“Pat is funny and funny people need to be seen,” explains Maniscalco, who grew up in Arlington Heights and attended Northern Illinois University. “You know how you like to share a good recipe or a good restaurant? Basically, I’m just doing that for him.”
Executive produced by Maniscalco, McGann’s first comedy special titled “Sebastian Maniscalco Presents Pat McGann: When’s Mom Gonna Be Home?” is set for release July 28 on Comcast, Amazon Prime Video, Spectrum, Apple TV and more via the Comedy Dynamics Network.
“Pat’s been breaking his ass for the last 10 to 12 years and he finally has his shot to show the world what he’s all about,” Maniscalco explains about McGann, who had the dream slot of his tour opener before COVID-19 obliterated live comedy. “Frankly, I think Pat has been underserved in the comedy community. He’s one of the best comedians out there. He’s been flying under the radar for so long and this is his coming-out party.”
Filmed at The Vic Theatre during a span of two sold out shows last September, the show centers on McGann’s hilarious, real-life musings of a husband and father dealing with the sad reality that he isn’t 20 anymore.
“It was crazy that night to actually follow Sebastian, who’s like the biggest comic ever,” laughs McGann, who grew up and still lives in the Beverly/Morgan Park area and graduated from Marist High School. “I actually used to live in the neighborhood that The Vic is in, so it really felt like a homecoming. The energy was outstanding.”
And McGann nailed it that night.
Maniscalco is used to high-caliber performances from his pal.
“I’m always looking for a guy that really kills it before me so the audience is up and running, and Pat’s always done that for me,” says Maniscalco, now based in Los Angeles. “Some comedians would rather have the [opener] go out there and not do as well due to their own insecurities or whatever, but not me.”
For two guys who have spent a majority of their adult life making people laugh, both admit it was rather difficult to actually watch the special, to hear the audience, to remember a pre-pandemic time when the world was a much different place.
“I miss it so much,” McGann admits of doing stand-up comedy in front of an in-person audience. “It’s a shock to the system to all of a sudden have that taken away from you. You crave it. You have the need to know when it’s going to come back. Before you know it, you can spin out into a mood and be like, ‘What the hell is happening?’ It’s fun to have this last moment.”
The emotional impact of that last statement brings the Zoom interview to a brief halt.
“All of this has definitely affected my mood,” Maniscalco says quietly. “The first six weeks of the whole quarantine, I was not in a good place. My thoughts need to be expressed through stand-up comedy, and the validation that my thoughts are funny keeps me in a good mood. If I can’t get this [stuff] out, I go around with an abundance of tension, and trying to release that. And so far, I haven’t found that release.”
After a brief silence the two comedians turn to humor again.
“I’m not writing a lot, I’m crying a lot,” McGann says in a loud voice. “I mean, this is super sad. Do you want a joke about being unemployed? Pull up a chair.”
Maniscalco lets out a huge laugh, and all of a sudden, all is right with the world.
Tricia Despres is a local freelance writer.