Sebastian Maniscalco Jokes About Lil Nas X, Springsteen & Emotional Support Animals in 2019 VMAs Monologue

 Dimitrios Kambouris/VMN19/Getty Images for MTV
Sebastian Maniscalco hosts the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center on Aug. 26, 2019 in Newark, N.J. 

In the weeks leading up to Monday night's (Aug. 26) show, a number of headlines played on the meme that nobody knew who Sebastian Maniscalco was. That was despite the fact that the 46 year-old father of two and host of the 2019 MTV VMAs has worked his way up over the past two decades from open mics to clubs, selling out four nights at Madison Square Garden and raking in $26 million over the past year. He tried his best to fit in at Newark, New Jersey's Prudential Center, taking the stage in skinny black jeans, a sparkly baseball jacket and ironically doing some of the dances the kids like so well.   

"I didn't mean to come out to a cloud of smoke, but backstage my mother's frying zucchini. It's not her fault, she's making it for 20,000 people tonight," Maniscalco said in his Andrew Dice Clay-adjacent delivery. "We're celebrating music the way it was always a hockey rink in the middle of Newark." His first joke about the audience -- how they're always on their phones -- touched down softly, with a kicker about how MTV has 26 cameras that will get all the shots, including the one from above of him making a funny dad face.

Stumbling over a joke about how everyone in Los Angeles rides a Bird scooter and everyone with an iPhone is an influencer, Maniscalco assured the audience there would be none of that on his watch. "New Jersey doesn't have time for that. All right? Jersey has had one influencer for the past 40 years and that's Bruce Springsteen." Halsey liked that shout-out to the 69 year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and some of the audience even chimed in with the appropriate "Bruuuuuuuce!!!" chant they've probably heard their parents yelling after a night out.

Pivoting to a bit about the many feuds in the music business and all the shade being thrown -- admitting he just found out what shade means -- Maniscalco said arranging the seating chart was "harder than coming up with the tables at my Uncle Luigi's fifth wedding." That one didn't seem to land at all, nor did the next bit about anyone who was "triggered" by the night's performances. "They're providing a safe space back stage where you'll get some stress balls and a blankie and Lil Nas X brought his horse...which will double as an emotional support animal," he said to polite, spare applause.

The night then got kicked off in proper fashion with Cardi B taking home the first broadcast award for best hip-hop video for "Money."

Watch Maniscalco's opening monologue below.

MTV Video Music Awards


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