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Love of cooking, family fuel Sebastian Maniscalco’s comedy

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Sebastian Maniscalco brings his observational and physical humor to Montalvo Arts Center this weekend. (Courtesy Todd Rosenberg)
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When Sebastian Maniscalco is truly in his element onstage, he’ll wait just a second longer than expected to deliver his punchline — a technique he’s perfected to extract that one extra chuckle from the audience.

“Comedy has so much do with timing,” says Maniscalco, who appears at Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga on Sunday. “A lot of it’s rushed nowadays, and to me, it should be like soufflé — you need to give it time to marinate a bit.”

That Maniscalco compares his job to cooking is no fluke.

He talks about food often in his act, and he’s now working on a memoir, titled “Where You Wanna Eat?,” that will touch upon his love for cooking and dining out.

Always a shy kid in class, Maniscalco says he got the nerve to test out his comedy by performing his routine for his family.

“I have so many great memories of being with my family and telling jokes around the dinner table,” says Chicago-born comic, 43. “That always brought us together, and those moments made me realize I wanted to be a comedian.”

The son of Italian immigrants, Maniscalco‘s routine frequently cites his unorthodox childhood.

While other kids were playing in their backyards, Maniscalco‘s father was imploring him to get a job.

When he complained about not having toys, his father told him to use his friends’, who had plenty.

Instead of calling rodent control to deal with a raccoon problem, his dad put antifreeze on bologna and laid traps for the unsuspecting critters.

Mansicalco’s observational humor is spiked with moments of physical storytelling, not unlike a few of his favorite comics, Jerry Seinfeld and Brian Regan. The combination of dry wit and exaggerated body movement has won him a steadily-growing fanbase.

After moving to Los Angeles after college, Maniscalco worked as a waiter at a Four Seasons hotel while honing his standup routine. He got his big break in 2005, when he participated in Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Tour, and he’s parlayed that exposure into four primetime comedy specials (including one on Showtime on Oct. 1) and increasingly more work in television and film.

Later this year, he’ll take part in the Oddball Festival, a traveling collection of all-star comics with John Oliver, Tracy Morgan and Cameron Esposito playing Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View on Sept. 30.

The tour is part of busy year for Maniscalco, who’s most happy staying active.

“I’m doing what I love, and when you do what you love, it’s not work,” he says.


IF YOU GO

Sebastian Maniscalco
Where: Montalvo Arts Center, 15400 Montalvo Road, Saratoga
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 14
Tickets: $29.50 to $95
Contact: (408) 961-5858, www.montalvoarts.org

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