“You could see a good portion of the population that descends on Las Vegas over a year, and I’m here to tell you we’re in trouble, okay?”
Stand-up comedian Sebastian Maniscalco moved from his native Chicago out to LA after college and paid his dues like many who dream of advancing their careers in Tinseltown–he waited tables while booking as many open mic nights as he could. It was back in the early 2000’s when he met actor Vince Vaughn (Wedding Crashers), and the two Chicagoans hit it off and formed a friendship. That friendship lasted for years and included Vaughn coming to watch Maniscalco perform. When Vince Vaughn decided to move forward with his pet project Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show, a nationwide touring show during which Vaughn would travel across the United States with four hand-picked stand-up comedians, it was a no-brainer to include Maniscalco. That exposure, both from the tour itself and the subsequent documentary release which chronicled the experience, helped break Maniscalco through to another level in his career and he hasn’t gone back to waiting tables since.
Now his latest stand-up special arrives, 2014’s Aren’t You Embarrassed?. Originally broadcast on Showtime and filmed in Maniscalco’s hometown of Chicago, the 75 minute set runs the gamut of topics from checking in at the airport to Chipotle. His observations of life tend to reflect his Italian/Sicilian upbringing and focus on Maniscalco lamenting the state of society today and how it’s out of whack with his upbringing. What makes Maniscalco’s comedy so engaging is his style. He has a slower cadence to his speech which allows the audience to relax into his words, but it’s paired with a very amusing physicality. Maniscalco’s physicality is reality-based. They’re the type of gestures and facial expressions you might use yourself if you were the one telling the story, just a bit exaggerated at times to very amusing effect. You can reenact some of Maniscalco’s bits and come close as opposed to the more impossible-to-mimic style of say a Jim Carrey.
Technical specs tend to stay consistent with currently-airing shows. The video is a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and leans on a darker palette in keeping with the darkened theater. There were no glitches other than occasional moments of soft focus when switching from one camera angle to another. The audio is the more important of the elements in a show like this and thankfully the Dolby Digital 2.0 track suffers from no real issues. The soundspace isn’t filled with layers but what’s there comes through clearly.
Special features include two behind-the-scenes featurettes, one a quick interview with Sebastian and another during which we’re treated to highlights from a dinner with Sebastian’s family and friends.
I enjoy Maniscalco’s brand of observational humor. You can go to his official site or Facebook page and watch a few clips to get a sense of his style and comedy before committing to a purchase.