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Maniscalco to take a break in 2023 — except in Vegas

Updated December 6, 2022 - 10:29 pm

Sebastian Maniscalco has been very funny for a long time. He’s also been very famous for a shorter period of time.

The superstar comic has discovered it’s a challenge to maintain a high level of funny while living with a high level of fame. So he’s stepping away from the stage in 2023, aside from his upcoming dates at Encore Theater, where he taped his latest Netflix concert special, “Is It Me?”

The show premiered Tuesday.

“I’m definitely taking ’23 off to do some other projects at home, some TV, maybe some film stuff,” Maniscalco said in a phone conversation Monday. “But as far as touring — I’m out of material, to be honest with you. I cannot tour off the back of this special because I don’t have any more material.”

Maniscalco is not one to merely recite his greatest hits while crisscrossing the country.

”I’ve always been a proponent of going out and giving the people a show that they’ve never seen before,” Maniscalco said. “Now that this Netflix special is going to air, I have to go back to the drawing board and write a whole new act.”

That means the only place you can catch Maniscalco’s stand-up show next year is Encore Theater on Jan. 6-7, and May 27-28. And, a heads up for additional residency show dates to be announced at the theater.

Maniscalco’s plight is common among comedians whose lifestyles change (typically, for the better) when they become widely successful. Maniscalco’s stand-up act is punctuated by experiences familiar to the common person. He frequently relates his relationship with his wife, L.A. artist Lana Gomez.

“My wife, I love her, but she’s got no urgency. Like, when we park the car, our doors never open at the same time,” Maniscalco says in the special. “I get outta the car, I shut the door, I look, she’s still in the vehicle! She’s gotta notice I’ve exited the car! It’s gotta click in! But, nothing! I gotta go to her side, knock on the window. There’s a full Sephora on the console! … Now she’s looking in the back! Why are you looking in the back? We didn’t go in the back!”

But over the past few years, Maniscalco has been immersed in his many showbiz projects. He’s not culling material from, say, his latest misadventure while running errands.

“A lot of my material used to come from just kind of observations in all situations I used to get myself into, whether it’s going to Target or the dry cleaners,” Maniscalco said. “A lot had to do with shopping, and just getting out of the house. But society has basically an indoor society, where you’re not going to Target anymore, you’re buying it on Amazon and not dealing with the frustrations of a clerk trying to help you. Times have changed that way.”

The 49-year-old headliner will spend more time with his family over the next 18 months or so. The Maniscalcos have a 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.

“Whether it’s taking the kids to Disneyland or the zoo or whatnot, I just want to live more of a life, rather than touring,” Maniscalco said.

In his latest special, Maniscalco takes his audience on a field trip of vintage Las Vegas. He’s the embodiment of modern-era Rat Pack, using black-and-white footage in the show’s intro. He asked that everyone in the theater dress up for the taping and donned a tux instead of one of his signature YSL-branded jackets.

“I have always been a big fan of Las Vegas, and of the Wynn hotel in particular, and I wanted to do a little throwback to when entertainment was kind of an elevated experience,” Maniscalco said. “I think we’ve lacked that in all aspects of the world today. People go to shows like they’re going to a slumber party. If you look at older videos, even from baseball games, people were dressed up in a suit and a hat.

“I wanted to give a wink and a nod to that period of time, and I figured Las Vegas would be the best place to do it.”

Maniscalco used his tux as a sort of prop in the second night of taping on Sept. 17. This was after a bit where he crouches to mimic a greyhound running at full speed (very funny but needs to be experienced in context). Maniscalco then stopped and said, “I feel a draft.” He related he might have split the back of his slacks.

But it wasn’t a split. It was a bit.

“This happens sometimes when you’re doing stand-up, I didn’t know where I was in the act,” Maniscalco said. “I didn’t know what was coming next. I equate it to a boxer hanging on to his opponent to catch some catch some breath. What am I gonna do next? So I called that out. It’s a little trick of the trade, I guess.” The great ones, they know how to work it out.

Cool Hang Alert

Column fave Wassa Coulibaly’s Baobab Stage at Town Square hosts “Everything Raw Vegas” variety show at 7 p.m. Dec. 13. This is where raw movement meets live music, and more, much more. Contemporary dance master Popin Pete (from the mid-’80s dance classic “Breakin’”) hosts, DJ Superdave furnishes the sounds with a host of special guests singing, playing and dancing. The mantra is,”I make sure everything we make — raw!” And everything Coulibaly makes is worth a look-see. Tickets are $20 (not including fees) in advance, go to baobabstage.com for info.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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