Sebastian Maniscalco’s My Dad Movie Made His Real Dad Cry – Variety

On a recent quiet morning at The Summit, the ultra-exclusive gated community in Los Angeles, a crane was called to deliver olive trees to the home of Sebastian Maniscalco.

The Illinois native, known for his relatable stand-up about his immigrant parents, and his physicality and turbidity on stage, remained uncharacteristically quiet as he watched the evergreens fall over his stunning view of Beverly Hills. He is used to talking about his much more humble roots.

“I like to poke fun or shed some light on what we see in society and make fun of my own family and my upbringing as an Old World immigrant. I think I do it in a way where we all laugh together,” he says. Variety.

Maniscalco’s father, Salvatore, emigrated from Sicily at age 15, obtaining a beautician’s license to support his wife and children with cutting and dyeing work in a suburban salon. He is the inspiration for “About My Father”, a new comedy co-written by Maniscalco with Austen Earl, in which Robert De Niro takes on the role of Salvatore. It opens Friday in theaters.

Viewers of Maniscalco’s six stand-up specials, most of which are streaming on Netflix, will instantly recognize his father’s patina. “If the sun is up, a man should be working,” Sebastian quotes him in an opening montage. The film is pseudo-biographical, following Sebastian’s courtship with a WASP-y entertainer (Leslie Bibb) and his bullying politician mother (Kim Cattrall). He and De Niro are invited for a family weekend at the country club, and the cultural differences spread faster than the Tom Collins mix.

“My dad saw the movie about six weeks ago. He is crying. He’s my biggest fan and my biggest critic. Living in Los Angeles, many people are sycophants. Where I grew up, people see through all that shit. My dad is tough, but that keeps me honest and level,” says Maniscalco, sitting in his home office. He exudes a beautiful playfulness, with the intimidating presence of a nightclub bouncer. But there is a contradiction here. He’s a man who will cry in Hallmark commercials but also growl in a parking lot.

Maniscalco moved to Los Angeles in his early twenties to work in the comedy club circuit while bartending at the Four Seasons. He refused to conform to the hotel’s polished formality (“Hello, sir. Good evening, sir,” he recalls being asked to sing), and his laid-back demeanor made him memorable for guests like Jerry Seinfeld. Fifteen years later, he is touring stadiums and making significant inroads in Hollywood. In addition to “About My Father,” he just wrapped production on “How to Be a Bookie,” an HBO Max comedy starring Charlie Sheen and created by Chuck Lorre. He sees the projects as an opportunity to expand his core stand-up audience.

“Globally, TV and film will introduce my comedy to a wider audience. I wanted to do it creatively and as a commercial gesture,” he says. “I wanted to share a love letter to my dad and in doing so, inject a bit of my perspective. Whether you know me or not, I think the film gives a good sense of who I am.

Maniscalco admits he was intimidated by filmmaking as a medium, saying stand-up allows him to “work on a piece for an hour and make people laugh. With a film, I do the takes and I get nothing. It was hard to understand that. »

While he hopes ‘About My Father’ will be a box office success – a challenge for comedies released theatrically in recent years – Maniscalco thinks he has already won. “I grew up watching De Niro. I had his posters on my wall. And now he’s playing my dad? he says. “My kids are going to see that one day. It is already a success.

Salvatore got a few pluses too, having spent time teaching De Niro how to do the perfect dye job. But that’s a whole different set of roots.

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