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Who the Hell Is Sebastian Maniscalco?

He's the host of this year's MTV Video Music Awards, but also... whomst?

by Alex Zaragoza
Aug 26 2019, 11:00am

Photo via Getty Images/Illustration by Hunter French

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Back in June, comedian Sebastian Maniscalco stopped by the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to drop a little humble brag. Not only had he recently hired a professional mermaid for his daughter's birthday (flex!), but he would also be hosting the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards. On Monday, August 26, Maniscalco will be following in the footsteps of a varied plethora of past VMA hosts, ranging from hot comedians of their time—like Chris Rock, Russell Brand, and Chelsea Handler—to questionable-as-hell choices (see: Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and Diddy).

Related side note: having a "personality" doesn't mean you can carry a whole awards show. The gig is a huge feat in any comedian's career, let alone that of a guy many people haven't heard of.

And truly, who in all of Blue Ivy's internet is Sebastian Maniscalco?

Unless you're a diehard fan of a certain brand of bro comedy, the name Sebastian Maniscalco might have registered a "whomst?" But by all accounts, he is a big enough deal that he could probably walk into any Buffalo Wild Wings and a dude named Sully would buy him a beer.

In short, Sebastian Maniscalco is a comedian who is having A Moment. Here's the gist.

A Chicago-bred (his thick, hot, Coyote Pup Guy accent does nothing to hide it) Italian American, Maniscalco knew from a young age he wanted to work in comedy. In fact, while the rest of us were trying to avoid lice and times tables, Maniscalco told his teacher he wanted to do stand-up. According to his Wikipedia page, he took a big step in making his childhood dreams come true in 1998 when he moved to LA and apparently performed at open mic nights anywhere he could—including at the Four Seasons Hotel, where he also worked as a server. (They have open mic nights at bougie hotels? Is this the kind of entertainment Hollywood's finest mistresses have to put up with on a Thursday night? For some reason that reads incredibly strange, but let's carry on.)

By 2005, he had ditched the Four Seasons' No Wives Allowed Comedy Thursdays and become a regular at the legendary Comedy Store in West Hollywood, sharing the stage with big names and fellow up-and-comers. Then he started blowing up on the comedy circuit, selling out arenas, and appearing on all the major late-night shows (Conan! Colbert! The one dude with the chin!). Now, he has a stack of comedy specials on Comedy Central Presents, Showtime, and Netflix, and he even appeared on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with one of his comedy heroes Jerry Seinfeld. This year, he made Forbes' list of highest earning comedians of 2019, coming in at number five and raking in a cool $26 million.

But it's not just stand-up that brings in the bread.

Maniscalco also hosts a podcast with his comedy friend Pete Correale called The Pete and Sebastian Show on the extremely unfortunately named Raw Dog Comedy channel on Sirius XM, where they ostensibly do...unprotected comedy (?) by way of comedy skits and brash, dickwad chit chat intercut with random soundboard clips, all seemingly concocted in a douchebag laboratory specifically for men in backwards Red Sox caps who take their wives to ESPN Zone for their anniversary, and women who are chill with casual sexism. It's all very Crazy Ira and the Douche. On a recent episode, Maniscalco talked about play-wrestling his wife and realizing she has UFC fighter-esque strength, to which Correale responded, "I always felt it's the one thing women can't change and it bothers them so much that we're physically stronger. It just is what it is though." So...yeah.

And now, he's aiming for the silver screen, baby!

Like many funny men before him, Maniscalco has begun to make his foray into the film industry, starring in such notable cinema classics as The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, The House, Tag, and Cruise. Then came his biggest break: a role in the Academy Award-winning white savior racism drama Green Book, in which he played Viggo Mortensen's loudmouth brother-in-law Johnny. It wasn't a starring role, but every millionaire comedian not worried about perpetuating ethnic stereotypes has gotta start somewhere! Next up, he'll tap into those Italian roots once more for a role in Martin Scorsese's mob drama The Irishman, in which he'll play real-life New York gangster "Crazy" Joe Gallo.

“The roles that I’ve gotten were kind of close in a sense to my personality. I mean in Green Book, it’s not like I’m changing into Rain Man,” he joked to Variety. “I’ve made specific choices in my wheelhouse where it’s been Italian American gangster types. Do I want to do that moving forward? I’d like to grow out of stuff like that as I get better as an actor. But right now, the Daniel Day-Lewis parts right now are off in the distance.”

All in all, he's a regular guy, but not without his quirks.

Maniscalco might be a very rich and famous comedian, but really he's just like anyone else. He's Italian! He's a wife guy! And he talks about his old ball 'n' chain and Italian stuff in his comedy. A lot. Write what you know, as they say.

When promoting his 2018 memoir Stay Hungry, he did a live book signing and answered 22 questions about himself and his life. The results are pretty stunning. He grew up idolizing actor Antonio Sabàto Jr. "Every guy I knew wanted to be Sabàto Jr.," he said, adding that he'd cast the Italian American soap star in the movie of his life.

His guilty pleasure is ice cream, there are always strawberries in his fridge, and he's got "a nose like a bloodhound." In the interview, he notes that he can "pick up [a scent a] mile, mile-and-a-half away. It's almost pig-like."

Because of his keen sense of smell, he used to go to extreme lengths to give his car the perfect scent. Those pine tree-shaped car freshners just weren't enough. His trick was to cut a small rag into little squares that he would then roll up and tie individually in rubber bands. Then, he'd fill a bowl with his favorite cologne and soak the tiny, pre-rolled towel joints overnight in what I have to assume was Cool Water or Drakkar Noir. The following day, he'd take the cologne-marinated towel joints and shove them into the air vents of his car so when he turned on the heater it would fill his Nissan or whatever with his signature scent. This is all completely true. Also, he'd like to own a Ferrari one day!

Sebastian Maniscalco: lover of good smells, ice cream, his wife, movies, and being Italian. And your 2019 VMAs host.

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sebastian maniscalco
Who the Hell Is