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“Hottest Comic in America” Sebastian Maniscalco (ep. 334)

Sebastian Maniscalco

John O’Leary welcomes “the hottest comic in America” Sebastian Maniscalco to the Live Inspired Podcast.

New York Times calls Sebastian Maniscalco “the hottest comic in America”.

With sold-out comedy shows, hit television specials and interviews on all the major late-night talk shows, Sebastian’s distinct style of stand-up comedy has struck a chord, bringing joy to millions during the pandemic.

Today, Sebastian shares how perseverance and hustle have been the key ingredients to attaining the success he once only dreamed of, the challenges that come with it and where he finds inspiration.

If you’re looking for a good laugh or a bit of joy, this episode is for you.

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  • While spending most of 2020 forming unbreakable bonds with his two children + wife, Sebastian is eager to return to stand-up with a deeper appreciation.
  • Pillars of strength: Admiring his parents for their unrelenting work ethic, Sebastian credits them to his success and often includes his dad Sal in his acts.
  • Growing up, Sebastian masked sadness with humor. Often shy, he came to life with his humor while in front of others.
  • Practice, patience and repetition: After failing his first act miserably at Northern Illinois University, he focused on refining his craft.
  • Understanding the importance of timing in comedy, Sebastian also strives to master the silence like his idol Johnny Carson.
  • As he become more confident onstage, Sebastian’s comedy evolved to be more expressive + more aligned to who he is off-stage.
  • Sebastian often breaks the “fourth wall” to captivate + hold the attention of the audience.
  • Dealing with “cancel culture”: Sebastian’s acts generally poke fun at those close to him, avoiding political and current events yet believes audiences can appreciate the fearlessness of some other comedians.
  • Overnight success a decade in the making: Moving to Los Angeles in 1998, Sebastian didn’t have a back-up plan if comedy didn’t pan out, so he became a workhorse, performing as much as possible – including a laundromat!
  • “I never want to say ‘I’ve made it’ because I feel like there is always something more I’m trying to do.”
  • What keeps Sebastian motivated? “As good as the people feel laughing, I feel ten times as good.”
  • Pre-pandemic, Sebastian would record his nightly performances when testing new material. Today, he leans on his podcast co-host Pete Correale and his mother when developing new material.
  • Taste of success: Sebastian feels the pressure to remain on top is twice as hard as it was to reach the top.
  • Sebastian turned the tables and asked me, “if it wasn’t for Jack Buck, would you have survived?”
  • Learn more about Sebastian Maniscalco, including his podcast The Pete and Sebastian Show here.


About our sponsor: Keeley Companies wholeheartedly believes that if you get the people right -the results will follow. They set themselves apart with a forward-thinking culture that empowers their people and fosters loyal partnerships. Keeley Companies are a proud sponsor, partner, and super fan of the Live Inspired Podcast. Learn more about Keeley Companies.


My new book IN AWE is now available… and became an instant bestseller! Learn how to rediscover your childlike sense of wonder to unleash inspiration, meaning and joy. Visit ReadInAwe.com today! 


  1. Q. What is the best book you’ve ever read?
    A. Open by Andre Agassi.
  2. Q. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today?
    A. I wasn’t so weary of others. I wish was more open to people and not making quick judgements.
  3. Q. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be?
    A. There is a photo of my wife and daughter coming on stage in Toronto but if everyone is safe, I’d print off a new photo from the Cloud. So maybe some cheese? I go for the food.
  4. Q. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be?
    A. Mohammad Ali because of his inspirational stories and sense of humor.
  5. Q. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
    A. My father says, “you can’t pay attention to what others are doing. The only control you have is what you’re doing.”
  6. Q. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
    A. Don’t worry so much. You’ll find your way even though you may not have a career path after college. You have the ability work hard and once you find your passion, you’ll explode.
  7. Q. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read?
    A. He never gave up.