Gayle King On Sebastian Maniscalco’s Relatability

The King & I:
Brian Samuelson
– The King & I:
Sebastian Maniscalco with Gayle King, who notes the comic’s ability to make fun without putting people down.

Gayle King knew she was going to have a good time when she went to Carnegie Hall for a benefit. She remembers, “I’d gone with my friend Jessica Seinfeld, and I know anything Jerry does is going to be funny,” says the “CBS This Morning” anchor, author and journalist.

“She tells me to watch this one comedian I’d never heard of, said he was one of their favorites.
“I thought, ‘Yeah, yeah, people say that all the time.’ I remember thinking, ‘Is this gonna be funny?’ When [Sebastian Maniscalco] talks, it’s not really jokes, but the way he tells a story is so relatable. If you’re young, old, black, white, you know what he’s talking about.”
King came away a fan of the man who challenges society’s slide into unthinking mediocrity. In a fast-moving world of news, politics and discontent, the veteran broadcast journalist respects Maniscalco’s family forward, humanity first observational humor. As she explains, “He stays out of politics. In these times that are so political and polarizing, he just won’t go there. It’s a relief.
“We live in a world where everybody is so mean-spirited. But he has a way of making fun of people or circumstances without taking anyone down. You’re laughing, ‘cause you’ve thought that very same thing, or you’ve done whatever he’s talking about.
“Either way, you see what he’s saying; you see the humor. Clearly, he loves his fans.”
Having watched Maniscalco’s rise, she can’t get over the difference between the comic and the man. “When you meet him offstage, he’s this very thoughtful guy. He’s very kind, very quiet. But when I go to his shows, I know I could be doubled over, laughing so hard, or saying to the people around me, ‘Hey! I can’t hear ‘cause you’re laughing so loud.’ I mean, can you really laugh too loud? But you want to hear his stories.
“That’s the thing: the family, when he goes on, becomes your family. I’m not Italian, but it’s relatable. It’s people and generations and how you’re raised. Really, it’s all of us – and people can feel that.”
The seasoned journalist recognizes the massive scope of scaling stand-up to Madison Square Garden in the round. “The way he moves around on that stage, you wonder how can he make it so intimate? It’s like he’s talking to you.
“You know how good you have to be? To have every person in that huge room believing he’s talking just to them? And he gets up on that stage, dressed in regular clothes. That’s it: Sebastian in his regular clothes, walking around the stage is like turning one of New York’s biggest sports arena into his living room. But that’s what makes what he does so special.”
Even more important to King is the man behind the laughter. “You meet him and you want to hang out. You wonder, ‘Hey, what are you doing after the show? Can we come with you?’ You wonder what else is Sebastian thinking, what’s his next chapter?
“I think it’s great to have that talent,” she offers, winding down. “But to have the heart that he does, that’s really something.”