There's something about Sebastian Maniscalco's first stand-up special, Sebastian Live, that feels like it might be right at home in 1989. It's not that his material is horribly dated; it's just that his delivery and "have you noticed this?" style of observational comedy make Maniscalco feel like a relic from another time.
The hour consists mostly of Maniscalco doing observational riffs on text messaging, technology, dog owners, male baldness and the experience of visiting a salon. He covers all broad topics, and does so broadly -- there's no specific attitude towards the observations. When he does focus in and get a little more personal, it's still in an obvious way: he might as well be any man talking about dating or ritzy salons. I don't watch stand-up to see any man's view. I want to hear from that particular comic.
Other than the material feeling a little generic, the problem I had with Sebastian Live is Maniscalco's delivery: it's too slow, too relaxed. I don't need every comic to be Dane Cook-hyperactive, but Maniscalco never builds any momentum. There's no rising and falling to the act; everything is the same, mellow note -- but mellow doesn't seem to be a stylistic choice, either. He takes too much time between setups and jokes, and the pacing feels all off.
Ultimately, Sebastian Live doesn't really tell me who Maniscalco is as a comic (something a one-hour special ought to be able to do). He doesn't have a particular point of view; he notices things, but seems neither bothered by them (like a George Carlin) or bewildered by them (like a Jerry Seinfeld). He doesn't have much of a discernible style. What he has, I suppose, is a look -- but even that feels dated. He's like one of those comics from the late-'80s stand-up boom. They would show up on hour-long showcases like Sunday Comics, tell a few jokes, be inoffensive and be out of your memory once they left the stage. Stick a brick wall behind him, and Maniscalco could be just about anybody.
- Original Premiere Date: 4/11/09
- DVD Release Date: 6/2/09