Maniscalco landed on Forbes' list of top-earning comedians for the past two years
Sebastian Maniscalco is no stranger to performing in front of a crowd, but hosting the MTV Video Music Awards is his biggest gig to date. He opened the awards show at Newark, New Jersey’s Prudential Center with a monologue that called out New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen and took shots at “safe spaces” – and might have had you googling “Who is Sebastian Maniscalco?”
The comedian has appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, along with releasing five specials of his own and even netting a part in the Oscar-winning movie Green Book. Here are five more things to know about the host of the VMAs.
1. He’s done comedy for over a decade.
At the time, he made a living by waiting tables, for “everyone from Shaq to Nicole Kidman and John Travolta,” he has said. Eventually, he got a gig opening tour for Andrew Dice Clay — who would go on to open for him just three years later.
Maniscalco released his first special, Sebastian Live, on Comedy Central, and has done four more since then. He landed on Forbes‘ list of top-earning comedians for the past two years, making $15 million in 2017 and selling out five straight nights at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall in 2018.
“I’m flabbergasted at the response people have given,” Maniscalco told PEOPLE of his comedy. “I always wanted to do stand-up for a living, but to the extent that it’s happening now? It’s amazing.”
2. He also has a book.
Maniscalco released his memoir, Stay Hungry, in February 2018. It became the basis for his high-earning tour later that year, which led to his most recent stand-up special of the same name, released on Netflix last January.
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3. He made it to the big screen with a role in Green Book.
In the historical comedy, Maniscalco played Johnny Venere, brother-in-law to star Viggo Mortensen’s character Nick Vallelonga. The film follows the relationship between jazz pianist Don Shirley (played by Mahershala Ali, who won his second Oscar for the role) and Vallelonga, his driver.
Green Book won three Oscars out of five nominations, including best picture and best original screenplay. Some, however, criticized the film for a reductive take on racial issues, and the Shirley family denounced it as inaccurate.
4. He has a wife and two children.
Maniscalco first met his visual artist wife, Lana Gomez, through their shared personal trainer, he told YouTube channel The Fighter and the Kid. The couple married in 2013.
They welcomed their first child, daughter Serafina Simone, in May 2017. She’s named after his grandmother and Gomez’s mother.
“She has more hair than me!” Maniscalco joked to PEOPLE at the time. “Lana and I couldn’t be happier!”
Their second child, son Caruso Jack, was born in June, and Maniscalco told PEOPLE the couple named him off the Hotel Caruso on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. (Caruso also means “boy” in Sicilian.)
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“Baby boy is doing great! At almost 2 weeks old, he’s got a full head of dark hair and eating like a great white!” Maniscalco joked to PEOPLE of his second-born.
5. He’s starring in upcoming Martin Scorsese crime drama The Irishman.
Maniscalco plays “Crazy” Joe Gallo in the film, which also stars Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. It premieres in September at the New York Film Festival before hitting Netflix later that year.
The comedian told Entertainment Weekly, “The two movies that I’ve been fortunate enough to get in – Green Book and The Irishman – is stuff that working actors would probably cut off their right arm to be in, so I never take it for granted.”
The 2019 MTV Video Music Awards are airing live from Newark, New Jersey’s Prudential Center on Monday, Aug. 26, at 8 p.m. ET.