“Last year I played Madison Square Garden for four shows. Now I’m shipping eggplant to Vermont. So that’s where my career has went,” joked comedian Sebastian Maniscalco Sunday night as he opened his home (virtually) to fans.
The comic, whose most recent special and book are ironically titled “Stay Hungry,” was hosting “Sebastian’s Sunday Supper,” held over Zoom and featuring his friend, Chef Dominick DiBartolomeo of Domenico’s Foods in Los Angeles. In addition to receiving a meal kit for two, participants were invited to a nearly two-hour Zoom session where Maniscalco welcomed such guests as Lester Holt, his parents and his in-laws for a fun, casual dinner to benefit the non-profit Good+Foundation, who is providing goods and services to frontline workers and their families, and the Comedy Store, which Maniscalco says is “the place that built my career into what it is today.”
More from Variety
- Comedy Clubs and Schools Confront an All-Too-Serious Future
- The Comedy Store to Live-Stream Starry Fundraiser to Benefit Coronavirus Relief Efforts
- Elton John Wins Pollstar's Top Tour Award, Vows to 'Win the F---ing Thing Next Year as Well'
For $200, guests received a bottle of Planeta wine and a prefix dinner that included stuffed peppers, cheeses, olive tapenade, eggplant parmesan, spaghetti with marinara sauce and a fresh baguette put together by Domenico’s Foods and delivered right to their door. At 4:30 p.m. PT /7:30 p.m. ET, Maniscalco went live from his kitchen in Los Angeles to talk to viewers, take questions and give away Sardel cookware.
While raising funds for a good cause, Maniscalco also admitted he had some selfish motivation behind the event. “I’ve been inside from 98 days and I’m sure everyones looking for an outlet,” he noted. “I just wanted to do something that could kind of bring us all together.” He also noted, “I’ve seen my family enough to last me 17 years, and I need to get back to stand-up comedy.”
Maniscalco was joined by DiBartolomeo, who prepared the meal while interacting with the comic, who seemed to enjoy giving the chef a hard time, constantly teasing him about sticking to cooking, not comedy. At one point, Maniscalco’s wife Lana Gomez joined and admitted she had been scribbling down notes during the broadcast.
“I just wrote Sebastian a note that says, ‘Don’t be so mean to Dom!’” Lana confessed, as they displayed the Post-It note for the audience. Maniscalco added that she kept sending him notes that say things like “Stop sweating” and “Why are you so angry?”
Much of the runtime involved Maniscalco talking to viewers; he started by asking what was bothering people during the pandemic. The winning answer — people who wear masks under their noses — received Sardel cookware. They also had different viewers display their cheese plate, as the invite specified “make sure you have something nice” to serve it on. One couple only had a Costco paper plate, but Maniscalco awarded them the cookware for their honesty.
DiBartolomeo originally met Maniscalco at a comedy show but their relationship really developed when the comic would come to the The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, where DiBartolomeo worked. “I don’t partner up with anybody I don’t think is tremendous,” Maniscalco noted, praising the food nonstop.
Maniscalco also chatted with friends and family, perhaps most notably his in-laws, Scott Lutgert and Simone Lutgert-Gomez. As they are often featured in comedy act, a viewer asked if they ever get offended or upset.
“Yeah, it’s terrible, I can’t believe the way you talk about us,” joked Lutgert-Gomez. “No, I don’t get offended at all, I think it’s funny. Sebastian just embellishes it and makes it funnier than I already am.” Added Maniscalco, “They told me as soon as I stop making money making fun of them, they’re going to start being offended.”
Before closing out the call so he could eat, Maniscalco thanked the front line workers and everyone helping during this unprecedented time. “We’ve never been through this pandemic, we’ve never been through anything like this, so it’s all new to everybody,” he noted. “ What I would suggest and what’s kept us sane some ways, is hanging out with family and friends and trying to get a circle for people who have been safe that you can lean on. Because to go through this alone is awful. That’s kind of why we did this virtual dinner, to have some interaction. I miss going out and doing shows and what I’m doing with you guys right now would be crowd work at a show — and I need that interaction. I think we all need that interaction. And not to feel like we’re in this alone.”
Maniscalco is planning on holding more virtual events; check https://www.sebastianssundaysupper.com/ for updates.