MTV made quite a few baffling decisions when putting together this year’s Video Music Award (the Jonas Brothers at the Stone Pony?), but it’s pretty clear that the most puzzling one was the selection of Sebastian Maniscalco as the host. It seems like they wanted to bring some New Jersey attitude to the proceedings, and Maniscalco certainly has a following, but it also seemed like he didn’t know a single thing about any of the performers that night and was under the assumption that jokes about his “Uncle Luigi’s fifth wedding” and his mother’s zucchini would slay the room. He was wrong.
For a devastating contrast, check out Chris Rock’s legendary opening monologue when he hosted the 1999 Video Music Awards. This was just three years after his legendary Bring the Pain special, and he was still at the absolute peak of his game. “We’re live here at the Metropolitan Opera,” he said right after taking the stage. “You know what that means? I may be the first black man in history to be on the stage of the Met without a mop.”
From there he proceeded to rip into boy bands (“Didn’t see you see New Kids on the Block? Don’t you know how this movie is going to end?”), Puff Daddy (“Puffy got a new album called Forever. What you trying to say Puff? ‘Forever’? You know if that one don’t sell, the next one will be called How About Three More Months?”), The Blair Witch Project (“What the hell is that? I thought I was watching a wedding in the woods”), and Jennifer Lopez (“She came with two limos. One for her and one for her ass.”)
Any random 10 seconds of this monologue was funnier than Sebastian Maniscalco’s entire performance. Recent VMAs have either gone with no host or pop stars like Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus. The last comedian to host was Kevin Hart in 2012 and Chris Rock hasn’t done it since 2003. It was his third time and two years later he was promoted to the Academy Awards. The 2019 VMAs will probably only be a tiny blip on the radar of Sebastian Maniscalco’s career, but for MTV it probably means that 2020 will again be host-free.