No punch line: Chicago comedian Maniscalco announces Bears pick

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LAS VEGAS — Sebastian Maniscalco had the good fortune to be on stage during the NFL Draft and, along with former Bears star running back Matt Forte, announces the team’s second-round selection Friday night.

The Chicago-based comedian, who is performing in Las Vegas this weekend and into May, understood why Bears management wouldn’t allow him to make his choice.

“They’d probably have a better shot if I had picked him,” he said of the pick, which was Washington cornerback Kyler Gordon at No. 39 overall. “Historically they haven’t been doing so well, I’m a bit disappointed there hasn’t been much to look forward to the last 10-15 years.”

However, Maniscalco does not hesitate to let the so-called experts take care of the drafting.

“I am 48 years old and I have two children aged 5 and 2,” he adds. “I’m in Las Vegas and it’s amazing how many grown men are walking around in football shirts and it’s their life. God bless them. I don’t have time to look at who caught 600 balls at the college level. I watch, but when they have me on these shows, I think they have me because I don’t know anything.

When Maniscalco appeared on ESPN’s Game Day and was asked to make college game predictions, the reaction wasn’t so nice from some fans.

“I was shredded by the diehards,” he laughs. “How dare you have a comic?”

If there were a smattering of comedians, however, Maniscalco would be right at home. His material is generally family-based, and many of his picks go that route as well.

“Bill Burr and I had a history, he’s actually the first guy I met when I moved into my apartment complex in Los Angeles. He’s in the elevator, I knew his work, so I said, ‘You’re Bill Burr, I just got here from Chicago, I’m starting out as a comedian.’ He said, ‘Come see me at the Laugh Factory’ and he was kind enough to bring me in and I loved.

“Jim Gaffigan, Jerry Seinfeld, their material is very clean and very relatable and observational. Taylor Tomlinson, she does theaters and tours and on Netflix.

From the past, it designates Don Rickles and Johnny Carson.

“In the current climate, would Rickles be as successful? I don’t know,” notes Maniscalco. “I think most people would love to hear it because if you can’t laugh at yourself and others, what’s the point?

“With Carson, I loved his ability to be quiet and funny at the same time, with impeccable timing. You don’t see that timing in a lot of comedians today. A lot of comedians, it’s a constant flow.

Currently on tour, Maniscalco recently completed a Netflix film “About My Father”, which he wrote and stars in himself. He hosted the Lionsgate CinemaCon presentation on Thursday in support of the film.

He and co-writer Austen Earl sent the script to Robert DeNiro, thinking it was a long time for the iconic actor to show interest. Not only did DeNiro like the script, but he insisted on meeting Sebastian’s father, Salvatore.

“He wanted my dad’s phone number to start looking for his brain and then meet my dad,” Maniscalco says of Salvatore, a hairdresser by trade. “My dad went to Oklahoma to spend three days with him, and I can’t believe this is happening. Then my dad teaches him how to do a dye job, and is on set and teaches the whole process in this hair salon. It was really crazy to witness.

On Friday, Maniscalco got to witness the madness of an NFL Draft from a unique perspective. Forte is one of his favorite former Bears, and they were able to share Chicago’s first selection in 2022 because the team traded first-round spots to the Giants last year for quarterback Justin Fields.

“Choice is a big deal,” he says. “I’ve got people from Chicago calling me, saying, ‘That’s it bro, if it’s a Hall of Famer, they’ll show a video of you choosing him forever.’ People already think this pick will be a fantastic addition to the team.

“You know, doing these special things, whether it’s the choice or doing a movie with Robert DeNiro or the MTV clips, it’s very enjoyable and steeped in history. It’s kind of a family story.

“My youngest child isn’t yet 3. I just hope my career is as successful when he’s 15 and he doesn’t say, ‘You were making the pick for the Bears and now you’re playing in a restaurant in New Jersey?’

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