The snow, cold and traffic couldn’t keep Buffalo crowds from seeing Sebastian Maniscalco at Shea’s Performing Arts Center Friday night, as the comedian brought the packed house down for the first of four headlining shows this weekend.
Dressed in black jeans, a black shirt and silver jacket, Maniscalco spun hilarious story after story during the Buffalo stop of his “Stay Hungry” tour. Maniscalco credits his work ethic and drive to his success, and he’s gained a following locally, starting from his breakthrough performances on Vince Vaughn’s “Wild West Comedy Show” to his specials and SiriusXM production “The Pete and Sebastian Show” he co-hosts with fellow funnyman Pete Correale.
After a promotional video featuring Maniscalco’s stage, television and film performances mixed with reviews from fans, he took the stage to entertain the audience for more than an hour with stories about his family.
As Maniscalco details the peculiar personality differences he has with family members, he holds the microphone in one hand while keeping the other hand constantly active with gestures to enhance his setups and punch lines. Meanwhile, he uses every bit of his animated face to further bring audiences into his life.
As he began the evening, Maniscalco couldn’t help but comment on the extremely winter weather Buffalo experienced this week. As a native of Chicago, Maniscalco was empathetic to a point, but also reminded the audience they had access to an airport in order to move.
Now living in Los Angeles, Maniscalco notes how quickly his neighbors will turn to hats, gloves and North Face jackets when the temps dip into the 50s.
“You don’t know what cold is,” Maniscalco said. “Go to Buffalo and try getting into the car through the trunk because the door is frozen.”
For someone who bills himself as “politically incorrect,” Maniscalco’s act is free of politics, offering audiences a respite from the constant chatter in the news and social media. His material feels particularly suited for Buffalo, as he spends a great deal talking about his upbringing in an immigrant family and how his Italian father continues to vex his life today.
But while Maniscalco dips into occasional comedy voices to portray his father, wife or even a black customer from his days working at the mall (the latter which he wily teased the audience about their tension), all of his stories feel grounded and universal. Tales about renting an alpaca for his daughter’s first birthday party, going fishing with his father and grandfather, and dating in 1989 vs. 2019 all kept the audiences in laughter and tears.
Chicago comedian Pat McGann opened for Maniscalco with a half-hour set on cord cutting, exercising during the workday and Catholicism. McGann found comfort in getting to the Saturday evening Mass with “my people.”
“We’re getting banged up tonight,” McGann joked of the Saturday congregants. “There’s no way we’re getting up tomorrow morning.”
Feb. 1 at Shea's Buffalo Theatre (646 Main St.). Additional performances on Feb. 2. Visit sheas.org.
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