Chicago-born comedian Sebastian Maniscalco had just returned from an audition for the NBC sitcom “Whitney” when we caught up with him via phone from Los Angeles .
“It was for playing a sleazy club owner,” said Maniscalco, an Italian-American who often gets cast in zany ethnic-dude supporting roles. “But at this point, I’ll take whatever I can get.”
His modesty is admirable, but it’s unnecessary. Since appearing in the documentary “Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show” in 2008, Maniscalco’s penchant for highly physical, zealous observations has landed him a correspondent gig for “The Tonight Show” and on dozens of other TV shows, as well as his first Showtime special, “What’s Wrong with People?” which aired in January.
Between road gigs and appearances at his home club, L.A. ‘s Comedy Store, Maniscalco just inked a deal with Sony Television to develop a traditional three-camera sitcom of his own.
We chatted with the in-demand stand-up in advance of his first headlining shows a tComedy Works on Larimer Square from Thursday-Sept. 23.
Q: You’re extremely animated on stage when you talk about the things that annoy you. Are you that way in real life, or is that just a version of you?
A: A lot of my comedy is based in reality, and the point of view is this guy who’s disgusted with human behavior and people in general. On stage it’s exaggerated for the sake of performance, but it’s pretty much my way of voicing that opinion and keeping me sane. All day long, as soon as I leave the house, I have this internal dialogue.
Q: In Vince Vaughn’s comedy documentary you’re cast as a neat freak. Is that true in real life?
A: It’s funny, I am very clean and like to keep things in order. But that one particular scene — which showed me with dry-cleaned socks and underwear — that was a mistake from the laundry. I was on a tour bus for 30 days, and we’d send our clothes out every seven or eight days, and when I got them back they were pressed and hung. But it actually was pretty nice to have pressed underwear for the rest of the tour.
Q: You’ve opened for some legendary musicians over the years (Gladys Knight, B.B. King, Al Green) and also worked with Prince. What were the circumstances of that last gig?
A:The Prince thing was when I did a commercial before he performed at the Super Bowl (in 2007). The idea was this fake board room meeting where he walked out and we pitched him all these ideas for his halftime show. And I was and am a huge Prince fan, so to watch this guy walk into the room was great. Everybody stopped what they were doing. It was like God came in the room. He had three girls with, like, incense walking behind him. He’s so small, but he has such a huge presence. It was wild. And he was just really, really quiet.
Q: Do you have a favorite joke of the moment?
A: What I’ve got going on right now is not a particular joke, but it’s from my Showtime special (“What’s Wrong with People?”). When I go out, I take photos of stupid signs and people doing ridiculous things and I post them on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #whatswrongwithpeople. Now I’ve developed a small army of people doing that, like a guy clipping his toenails at the airport, so I’ve got all these photos of people doing outrageous stuff. It’s almost like People of Walmart, but this is more like People of the World.
John Wenzel: 303-954-1642, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/johntwenzel
SEBASTIAN MANISCALCO.Stand-up comedy. Thursday-Sept. 23. Comedy Works, 1226 15th St.$15-$23. 303-595-3637 or comedyworks.com.