Why I Hate You, Sebastian Maniscalco


I hate you. I hate you. I hate you… son of a gun. My laptop sits on the coffee table while I watch him; Sebastian Maniscalco, the man I hate the most, and for a good reason. What a bastard! How could he do that? He is walking back and forth across the stage. The crowd is laughing at every one of his jokes. Jesus Christ… vaffanculo… if they only knew. I am pissed! He is having an affair with my girlfriend and stole my script. What’s worse is that, as an Italian, I feel exactly as I would if I was betrayed by my own brother or any member of my intimate family.


It all started a few years ago. Viktoria, my girlfriend (should I still call her that?!?!) is from Slovakia, a country in Europe not too far from Italy. She had never dated an Italian before me, and she knew little of what that would entail. I was sitting in the living room of her house with my hands on her thighs, under her skirt, when, suddenly, she asked me if I had heard of Maniscalco. I had no clue what point she was trying to make. In Italian, “maniscalco” means blacksmith. Was she asking me if I followed the home improvement channel or if I watched any Italian reality shows? “No, thank you – I responded – I rarely watch television, much less reality shows about Italian blacksmiths.” As it turns out, Maniscalco is a real person’s last name; he is a comedian and the man of the hour. Why? What’s so funny about him? He is from Chicago, isn’t he? Then, she turned on the laptop, and we watched “What’s Wrong with People,” his Netflix special, together for an hour. We were both laughing, and my hands under her skirt were laughing too…

I was born a few miles off the north of Florence, Italy. I had to share my toys with two other brothers and two sisters. My story is that of a traditional Italian family, with my dad ripening the fruits of the postwar Italian economic boom and my mom staying home, watching after her hutch and feeding us with authentic pasta Bolognese and tiramisu. My dad likes to tell jokes and is good at it. He knows how to time them, give a voice to each character, and finish up with the surprise element. We had joke books in the house, and I bought a monthly comic magazine about Tuscan humor. My classmates laughed at my funny stories and poems, and they loved how I interacted with our teachers. I had given each of the school panel members a nickname: scratch-balls, the laziest among them; Nazi, the not-so-flexible German professor; Gorgonzola, the French, over perfumed professor; and Not-Sure, the chemistry teacher that would go around the class asking questions, and would always follow our answers with: “Are you sure?” I guess we were not so sure about her crazy algorithms of plutonium, palladium, and poly-sutured chains. I was a comedian for my family and my class. I liked to laugh and make people laugh until I met him. Sebastian… I hate you, son of a gun!


That’s what happened. My girlfriend, Viktoria, fell in love with Sebastian. She began following him on Instagram and, now, everything revolved around his daily updates on social media. She made me buy his book “Stay Hungry” and made me read it, too. Maniscalco was ruining my life, and I, Viktoria’s first Italian boyfriend, the one who gave her everything, was placed backstage. It was all about Sebastian now: how cool, funny, and romantically Italian he was, with those magnetic eyes and lips, his casual, sexy moves… Maniscalco, I hate you. I hate you, son of a gun…


How could you? Seriously! Was it not enough for you to steal the jokes from my repertoire? No! You had to have my girlfriend, too. You had to make her become your biggest fan ever! Son of a gun … In my deepest despair, I am picking the petals of an imaginary daisy. I hate you… I love you… I hate you… I love you.


They say that love and hate are two different sides of the same coin. Upon reflection, maybe, what I feel for you, Sebastian, after you have destroyed my life, is not hate, but brotherly love and a pinch of jealousy. As I watch you running back and forth across that stage, I see your world, and I genuinely understand you because, just like you, I see humanity as a weird bunch. The earth spinning in space, in the middle of nowhere, is the ultimate joke. And I laugh with you, from the deepest of my guts, at so much illogical, complete nonsense.

Therefore, dear Sebastian, I have decided to forgive you. You have made a mess of me, and it’s indisputable: you had a mental affair with my girlfriend, the one I gave my all to. However, I am the one with whom she ends the day and sleeps at night.


Sebastian, I forgive you for being funny as hell, although you are doing it with my Italian jokes. I may love you just as much as the crowds that come to your shows and watch your specials. After all, humanity is divided into Italians and those who try to be one of them.


Ah, I almost forgot: my girlfriend says hi.


Ciao Sebastian. Vaffanculo! You know I love you.

Samuele

~ Written by: Viktoria Rusnakova & Samuele Bagnai, authors of Enthusiastic All the Way & Tuscan Who Sold His Fiat to the Pope, respectively.

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