In January 2019, comic and Levity Live client Sebastian Maniscalco sold out four shows at Madison Square Garden. Now, he’s hosting virtual dinner parties.
Sebastian’s Sunday Supper is “a way to engage his fans over the things he loves: cooking and entertaining and drinking wine,” says Judi Marmel, who oversees the careers of Maniscalco and notable comics such as Whitney Cummings, Bert Kreischer and Taylor Tomlinson as founding partner and president of talent at Levity Live.
Participants are shipped food from Maniscalco’s favorite chefs and eateries, and then join a video call to enjoy the meal – and lively conversation – with the comic.
“It was a way for them to get some comedy and some food and some camaraderie and some laughs together during this time,” says Marmel, adding that the “wildly successful” venture has attracted offers from the TV and streaming spaces to do it as a series.
“What we’ve learned this year is that you really have to go back to your roots of being entrepreneurial and you have to be scrappy and you have to think outside the box,” Marmel says. “You have to be willing to get your hands dirty and try some new things.”
That willingness to embrace the unusual – like Kreischer’s idea at the outset of the crisis to do stand-up at drive-ins – has helped the company navigate the pandemic’s turbulent waters.
“He was certainly the first artist that mentioned it to me, and wanted to be the first comedian out there doing it,” Marmel says.
When Kreischer suggested the concept, he told Marmel, “I really feel like this is my audience,” and he was right: The comic who filled theaters earlier this year was soon packing drive-ins for the COVID-safe, socially distanced “Bert Kreischer’s Hot Summer Nights,” with six events grossing $413,957 (see Boxoffice Insider, Page 5). Additional legs are in the works.
It’s unsurprising that Marmel and Levity have weathered uncertain times successfully, given her longstanding commitment to her clients and to mass appeal. Those same principles should position Levity clients for success when traditional touring returns.
Says Marmel, “Whenever we’ve seen a national crisis, we’ve always seen comedy as the antidote and the ointment for it.”