Sebastian Maniscalco returns to the Borgata. Chuck Darrow reviews.
Sebastian Maniscalco returns to the Borgata. Chuck Darrow

Turning complaints into laughs, Sebastian Maniscalco kicks off 10-show Borgata run

The megastar funnyman’s return to Atlantic City was a typically humorous grievance-fest.

There are plenty of adjectives that accurately describe uber-comic Sebastian Maniscalco, among them, “popular,” “successful” and, of course, “funny.” Another is “dependable.”

That’s because the 49-year-old Chicago-area native sticks to the script whenever he heads out on tour. As such, Friday evening’s turn--the first set of his two-weekend, 10-show run at Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa--held few surprises. As a matter of fact, the most unexpected aspect of his six-night mini-residency, which is part of his current Nobody Does This tour, is that he is performing in the round, rather than on the Event Center stage. Beyond that, it was funny business as usual for Maniscalco, who returns to the Big B for another five shows Nov. 11-13.

Dressed all in black (pants, T-shirt, leather jacket), Maniscalco wasted no time in setting the agenda, using his opening moments on stage to shoot darts at a universal husband-irritant: Wives’ predilections for keeping their spouses waiting when it’s time to leave the house.

From there, he ran down all manner of major and minor annoyances, from taking the family to Disneyland to his increasing inability to follow movies and other aspects of aging. And, per usual, the success of the material was as much—if not more—a matter of how the it was presented than the actual content.

This is not to suggest Maniscalco’s comedy isn’t, by and large, cleverly conceived. But because his bits generally exist outside the setup-punch line format of most standup comedy and instead are based more on context and exposition, his delivery is crucial to transforming merely funny content into often-hilarious content.

Specifically, he punctuates his words with exaggerated facial expressions and theatrical movements of his body and limbs. He isn’t quite as physical as he once was: Gone are the relentless stalking of the stage, twisting of his body and squatting that marked his earlier days. But he still relies on physicality more than most comics, and those gestures propel his already amusing words to another level of laugh generation.

It’s a formula that he’s taken to the bank for years, and one that clearly registered with Friday night’s early-show crowd.

For tickets, click here.

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