As the coronavirus pandemic has continued to sweep the nation and world, families have been forced to lockdown in quarantine and several businesses forced employees to work from home — with many companies closing indefinitely over health and safety measures. As a result, the entertainment industry has also been brought to an abrupt halt, and actor/comedian Sebastian Maniscalco is feeling it first-hand. In an exclusive interview with PopCulture.com for our series, PopCulture @ Home, the 46-year-old says he couldn't be more ready to get back out on stage to give fans what they want, admitting "selfishly, I need it."
"I mean, it's one of these things where, you know, it's cathartic in the sense that I feel absolutely fantastic when I share an idea and people laugh at it and I get off stage," he shared with PopCulture. "It's just a sense of euphoria and when you don't have that, especially when you've been doing it — I've been doing it for 22 years — I gotta get on stage!" While Maniscalco is eager to get back, he's also fully aware that many are suffering right now; families have taken a hit, businesses have spiraled and people have lost loved ones due to COVID-19. While his heart feels heavy for them, he's also ready to bring a little laughter to fans in hopes of relieving some stress.
To give people some sense of normalcy, Maniscalco teamed up with his close friend and chef, Dominick DiBartolomeo and invited fans to join them for dinner via Zoom. The Los Angeles, California-based chef put together a box of food that fans could order online, to then cook with the comedian and his pals simultaneously. A portion of proceeds went towards the Good+Foundation and The Comedy Store Benefit. After he received so many requests to carry on with his comedy online, he noted that such art form doesn't really carry over via Zoom but did joke, "I tell myself I'm a Zoom-edian," saying he'd do shows for "free" at this point if it meant things could go back to normal.
"I was just kind of sitting around with my wife, trying to figure out a way we can provide some entertainment without being so, you [know] just sitting there watching. We're like, 'Let's marry our two passions of food and comedy!'" he explained.
Maniscalco's hopes is to get back on stage as soon, and as safe, as possible. While the rest of 2020 is up in the air for everyone, he does have a plan formulated. "I'm gonna hit some comedy clubs I think over the summer," he revealed. "Just to get back up on stage. I'm gonna do that here in Southern California, it's gonna be a modified audience — it's not obviously gonna be 100 percent capacity. [...] I'm not a guy who just sits in his room and writes down jokes, I'm more of a storyteller, I need to tell those stories to a group of strangers to see if they're funny, and that's the only way you can really test your material. So for me, that's what I'm gonna do."
Because of the uncertainty of the world-wide pandemic, he admitted how he has now come to terms with things just not reopening anytime soon. "I have just resided to the fact that the next six to nine months, I just said in my head that I will not be doing any large scale shows any time soon," he said. Instead, the Illinois native will be focusing on his writing for television and a film with Lionsgate, "loosely" based on his life titled About My Father. He does plan on performing for smaller crowds over the summer, but says it's going to be a week-by-week thing.