The successful stand-up has gone from comedy clubs to the Oscars' red carpet with a small part in 'Green Book'


Comedian Sebastian Maniscalco wants you to get dressed before going to the airport. 

It's just one of his many observational gripes that keeps him so animated on stage. The Chicagoan, known for his brand of stand-up that points out the lack of shame in society today, is bringing his show to the Fox Theatre, which he calls one of his favorite places to play, for two sets on Friday. 

"I’ve always had a disdain for human behavior that doesn’t align for my way of life and it tends to be good material," he told The Detroit News. "I have a book of rules to kind of behave … my parents taught me ‘you do this, you don’t do that.’ It’s almost like being a mensch, being a good citizen, and then you walk outside your house and apparently nobody got the book.

"Anything goes nowadays," he adds. "There’s no decorum, there’s no kind of, like, just a way to behave. You go to the airport, it looks like a slumber party. There’s a time where you used to dress up, and now people roll out of bed and they’re at Gate 9."

Besides looking around to see what irks him, he mines material from his own family. 

"Growing up with an Italian father from Sicily, kind of bringing that immigrant attitude here to the United States, he grew up on a farm in Sicily, and I find a lot of humor in kind of the way I grew up," he said. "Comedy comes in a lot of conflict and also comes in nostalgia. And people, at least the people that are coming to my shows, are kind of yearning for the way it used to be and I kind of do compare and contrast."

As for his mom, she instilled in him the desire to look sharp  — which he does, he was even voted "best dressed in high school" — and make an effort. 

"I got inspected every time I left the house ... 'you're not wearing those pants to that party,'" he said. "It was ingrained in me as a young kid that presentation was always held very highly in our home, and when you go on stage it's like, this is show business. You're not going to Starbucks for a cup of coffee with like a flannel on, you know?"

"That's great some some comedians who want to be the everyday guy and that fits their (show), but I never fit into that category ... I've always taken pride in dressing up for the occasion."

These techniques have worked for him. The actor and comic has seen his star rise steadily over the past decade or so with stand-up specials on Showtime and Comedy Central. 

His most recent is "Stay Hungry," which came out on Netflix earlier this year. It's also the name of his best-selling memoir, which is a collection of essays about his rise in the world of stand-up.

Now that he's at the point where he has several specials and a book under his belt and can fill the Fox Theatre twice in once night, he's starting to dabble in acting. 

Maniscalco had a small role in this year's Best Picture winner "Green Book." He said the film's writer Nick Vallelonga enjoyed his stand-up and that's how he was able to audition. 

"Boom, we're off and running, acting with Viggo Mortensen the first day on the set," he said. "For me who does stand-up for a living, to switch over to the whole acting thing and not really having a lot of experience and here I'm acting with an Oscar winner ... wow, this is pretty amazing." 

If attending the Academy Awards for the first time wasn't a good enough start — he called the red carpet "strange" but said he had a great time — his next notable film venture will be alongside Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino in Martin Scorsese's Netflix film "The Irishman," coming out in October.

"These are guys I grew up watching as a kid," he said. "The first day in between takes, De Niro came up to me and didn't say anything, he just looked at me and he's like 'your tie is tied wrong' ... De Niro fixed my tie .. it was one of those surreal moments where every day on that set I was like 'this is not happening.'"

Twitter: @melodybaetens

Sebastian Maniscalco

7 and 10 p.m. Fri.

Fox Theatre 

2211 Woodward, Detroit

(313) 471-7000

$35 and up

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