Comic Maniscalco seeks Bears-Texans Super Bowl
NEW YORK (AP) — Sebastian Maniscalco has a perfect matchup in mind for the Super Bowl: Bears vs. Texans.
The native of Chicago and lifelong Bears fan also is close friends with Houston star defensive end J.J. Watt. So what could be better for the popular standup comedian than his favorite team facing off with his football buddy in the big game?
“We were just talking about that, a friend and me, talking about going to the Super Bowl this year. It could be a Watt/Bears extravaganza,” says Maniscalco, who also is an actor and author. “It would be nice.
“The last time the Bears were this good with this kind of swagger about them and a lot of confidence, they were doing the ‘Super Bowl Shuffle.’ ”
Maniscalco is headed for Madison Square Garden for four shows on Jan. 19-20 that nearly are sold out. The Garden is a natural spot for comedy — have you seen the Knicks lately? — and Maniscalco recognizes the tie-ins between sports and funniness.
“Madison Square Garden is the epicenter for lots of great events,” he notes. “Comedy and sports definitely go together, though it’s not something I build my standup around. I tailor my act to whoever is there. It is something for me that I always loved, incorporating some sort of sports material into my act, some of it’s improvisational.
“You’re out there and exposed in both. If people are not out there laughing, you are out there like a pitcher who cannot throw strikes. Comedy is very naked and very exposed. So is anybody who is kind of doing something on an individual level, like in sports.”
Maniscalco, who threw out the first pitch for a Mets game at Citi Field last season and enjoyed the camaraderie of hanging out in the dugout, was a soccer player as a youngster. Part of his comedy routine — he has a Netflix special that premieres on Jan. 15 — centers on his father, who would come to Sebastian’s games with a legal pad, write down what he saw, then break down what his son did and didn’t do.
His father would sit away from the other parents in the stands.
“No one knew who he was,” he jokes. “They were saying, ‘Hey, does someone owe money here?’ He looked like he was coming to collect a debt.”
Now, Maniscalco says, dad comes to his shows and does the same critiquing of the comedy.
Much of Maniscalco’s material focuses on family relationships and stuff people go through in their daily lives. He steers clear of politics, despite the deep well of potential material there.
“The recipe for success to me is staying true to who I am, to my family, and sharing experiences people can relate to,” he says.
His friendship with Watt started through Twitter when the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year said he was a fan of Maniscalco since high school. The comic and his family have visited with Watt when they were in Houston, and marveled at the impact Watt has had in the community.
“He is like a leader. He inspires people,” Maniscalco says, noting Watt’s fundraising role after Houston was hit by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. “If something needs to get done, he gets it done. You kind of strive to do the things he does. It makes you a better person.”
So if Watt and the Texans play his beloved Bears in the Super Bowl, where will Maniscalco’s allegiance be?
Well, he isn’t quite saying. But, though he has lived in Los Angeles for 20 years, he still roots for all the Chicago teams.
If the Texans and Bears get to Atlanta, and you see a guy on the street wearing a Watt jersey and Bears jacket and hat, it might be Maniscalco.