Photo by Todd Rosenberg
Sebastian Maniscalco could make a decent living telling jokes in traction, but he probably wouldn't elicit the kind of howls he earned Sunday night at the State Theatre in Minneapolis.
Maniscalco was named Just for Laughs' Comedian of the Year in 2016 and is the Showtime Channel's most popular stand-up, not so much for his material, but for his physical enthusiasm.
On Sunday, the Chicago-raised comic who talks like Andrew Dice Clay and thinks like a blue-collar Jerry Seinfeld, fidgeted through his 80-minute performance, all but ignoring the stool on the otherwise bare stage. He punctuates jokes with exaggerated flourishes that resemble John Daly after a tee stroke or a skater who just nailed a triple axel.
Many comedians use physical exertions to cover up shoddy material. That's not the case with Maniscalco. His bits, mostly about his Italian-American family and social ineptness, may not be original, but they're sharp. His closing routine on dating in a pre-Tinder age was downright touching.
Maniscalco stays away from political humor, but a joke in which he defends the security team that booted a doctor from a United Airlines flight seemed to register with those in the audience eager to defend law enforcement.
The response suggests that Maniscalco may have a future in politics -- if not "Dancing With the Stars."