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Venetian stages biggest comedian shamer on Sunday

I bet you like it when you board a plane with passengers wearing fuzzy slippers and men’s boxers. You dig it, don’t you, when shoppers wear pajamas to the grocery store?

Oh, that bothers you? Then you’re a normal judgmental person, because backlash is rising against people who are, as comic Aziz Ansari has derided certain people, “riff raff.”

America’s anti-riff-raff movement has been gaining strength ever since PeopleOfWalmart.com began running photos of shoppers in Walmart wearing shirts as dresses and thongs as shorts.

This Sunday, the Venetian stages the biggest comedian shamer of all — the rapidly rising star of Sebastian Maniscalco. (At 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.; $60.)

Sebastian (as people call him by one name, like Madonna) routinely uploads photos of the slovenly inconsiderate, assigning them with the hashtag theme of “#arentyouembarrassed.”

The past week, Sebastian, 41, posted “#arentyouembarrassed” photos of a guy wearing roller skates to the grocery store, a guy wearing a peanut as an earring, and a company that sells toasters capable of printing people’s selfies on their toast (a product I want).

Sebastian told me his fans include anxious people who relate to observations about “this disbelief in human behavior and how people have no standards anymore.”

“I’m not into the whole reality TV thing, or people disrespecting authority or their parents,” Sebastian, a Chicagoan keen on decorum, said.

“I think there’s a silent majority in the country that is longing for someone to talk about family values,” he said.

How’d he come up with this #arentyouembarrassed idea?

“I was just walking around, and in my head, I was thinking, ‘Aren’t you embarrassed?” he said. “You want to pull out a Norelco shaver while you’re in line at Starbucks and shave your beard?”

He thought, “Is there any shame anymore?” So he started photographing and videoing vignettes for the hashtag, which led to other people doing the same.

“You get to the airport, and it looks like a slumber party,” he joked. “I feel like a fish out of water a lot of times, walking around, thinking, ‘Is this the new norm now? Am I in the minority that I actually dressed up to get on an airplane?’”

Sebastian did a bit for Jay Leno’s old show where he stood outside of public places and judged people’s clothes.

“One guy was wearing camouflage coming out of Sunday mass. Are there trees in there?” Sebastian said. “I grew up in a house where my family was like, ‘You aren’t going out like that, go put your nice pants on.’”

Sebastian, a “clean” family-friendly comedian who doesn’t curse much on stage, said he can be guilty of shameful transgressions just like everyone else.

“It’s done with a wink and a nod,” he said of his act. “I go, ‘Listen, some of the things I talk about in my act, I secretly do.’

“There’s a bit I do about eating a muffin out of a bag at the Starbucks,” he said. “I actually do that. But when I see somebody else do that, it annoys the hell out of me.

“It’s not like I’m up there (on stage) screaming and bitching about these things that are annoyances. It’s done with a smile, like you’re in on the joke.”

His upcoming DVD/CD is named “Aren’t You Embarrassed?”, a follow-up to “What’s Wrong With People?” He’s also got a podcast, “The Pete and Sebastian Show.” And he’s writing a memoir.

I joked to Sebastian I’d go see him if I can find a tux and a monocle to suit his dress-for-the-occasion credo.

“Get your top hat out,” he joked back. “You can’t get backstage without a bowtie.”


A new episode of the “Doug Elfman Show” is up on iTunes, podcast apps, and DougElfman.com. This one features Martin Stein, local journalist and publicist who moved to Texas over the weekend. I gave him a leaving-Las-Vegas exit interview. He told me about his favorite “Gatsby” moment and other typical Vegas memories from his 11 years here.

Contact Doug Elfman at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman. Find him on Twitter: @VegasAnonymous.

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