"I was not only a waiter — I was selling satellite dishes out of a kiosk in the ghetto," Sebastian Maniscalco recalled of his pre-fame days

By Jen Juneau
February 12, 2020 09:31 AM

Many celebrities have a “before they were famous” employment story, but Sebastian Maniscalco‘s might take the cake (or rather, serve it).

The actor and comedian, 46, paid a visit to The Kelly Clarkson Show for Wednesday’s episode, during which he recalled having a job in the food service industry before hitting it big in Hollywood. Maniscalco revealed that he served many high-profile diners in the late ’90s and early 2000s.

“I used to work at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills, so I used to wait on some of these guys,” said Maniscalco, noting the stars included “anyone from Nicole Kidman” to his The Irishman costars Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.

“Fast-forward now to 2020, I’m in a movie with these guys,” he mused. “I worked [at the hotel for] seven and a half years, waited on all of Hollywood. And now things are finally paying off.”

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From L to R: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Sebastian Maniscalco
Michael Kovac/Getty
Sebastian Maniscalco (L) on The Kelly Clarkson Show
NBCUniversal

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Maniscalco admitted he “had no back-up plan” when he came to Los Angeles in 1998 looking for a career in entertainment, telling Kelly Clarkson “it was either this or the streets” and his goal was “stand-up comedy or bust.”

And like many struggling to stay afloat while juggling auditions, he also had multiple sources of income going at the same time.

“I was not only a waiter — I was selling satellite dishes out of a kiosk in the ghetto,” Maniscalco told Clarkson, 37.

“I sold vacuum cleaners for two days and I was like, I’m out … I couldn’t do it,” the host shared of her own pre-fame gig.

Sebastian Maniscalco at the 2020 Oscars
David Fisher/Shutterstock

RELATED VIDEO: Sebastian Maniscalco Talks the “Supportive Environment” on Set of The Irishman

Maniscalco — who attended his second straight Oscars ceremony this past weekend after celebrating with his Green Book cast and crew last year — called working on The Irishman “a little intimidating and a little anxiety-driven” while speaking to PEOPLE on the red carpet.

“I was extremely nervous the first day,” he said. “Once we did that first scene, after that it was kinda off to the races. I really had no time to even think of being nervous and whatnot, but I would [not] be lying to you if I said I wasn’t sleeping the two nights prior to doing this.”

He quipped, “I can perform in front of 20,000 people at Madison Square Garden, but you put me in a scene with [De Niro, 76, and Joe Pesci] and it gets a little hairy.”

Maniscalco joked that he’s quitting while he’s ahead, having lived out his onscreen dream of working with Pesci, 77, and De Niro: “I’m retiring after this; I don’t see myself ever working again.”

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