Maniscalco’s opening act graduates to headliner status

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Pat McGann has made a name for himself besides as the opening act for the popular comic.

It’s virtually impossible to write about comic Pat McGann without mentioning Sebastian Maniscalco. That’s because McGann, whose first bill-topping AyCee gig takes place July 5 at Ocean Casino Resort, owes much to his world-conquering pal: He’s been Maniscalco’s exclusive opening act throughout the latter’s rocket-ship ride to megastardom.

So how did the 48-year-old Chicago native come to grab that enviable gig for most of the past decade, including at dozens of sold-out shows at Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa?

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“I met Sebastian at (Zanie’s Comedy Club) in Chicago, where I had become the house MC,” he recalled during a recent phone chat. “I was hosting a ton at Zanies and Sebastian was there and he was at the point in his career where he was starting to sell out comedy clubs. And he started asking me to go out on the road with him. And it really snowballed from there.”

When it comes to Maniscalco’s career, “avalanche” is probably a better verb than “snowball.” In just a few years, he went from playing clubs to packing arenas like Philly’s Wells Fargo Center and New York’s Madison Square Garden. And McGann was with him every step of the way.

The reason, McGann suggested, was the way he shaped his relationship with the comedy titan.

“I stayed out of his way,” McGann recalled. “I still stay out of his way. I gave him space and I think he appreciates that.”

McGann’s professional stock in trade is hardly destroying boundaries: His is a traditional “observational comedy” act based on the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Riffs on marriage (he’s now divorced), kids and similar subjects comprise the bulk of his repertoire.

What sets McGann apart from so many of his contemporaries is that by and large, he works clean, in the manner of such personal influences as Jerry Seinfeld and Rita Rudner. But it’s not a hard-and-fast rule.

“I’m not a prude,” he insisted, “and it’s not really even intentional. And I do occasionally swear, especially if I’m doing crowd work. I think my attitude has changed in the last year. I think everybody swears a little bit more. My third grader swears; he’s like, ‘What the (expletive deleted) is going on in this world?’

“But I do feel like maybe it’s a little bit more of a challenge,” McGann added, “to be funny without four-letter words. It’s a little bit harder to come up with the clean stuff. I wanna be relatable and relevant, but I also don’t want to alienate people. So I can get there a lot of times without swearing.

“I enjoy comics that swear, and I don’t think it’s anything that I’m dead set on,” he acknowledged. “It just turns out that’s the way I write. It comes out maybe a little bit more clean because I wanna be able to say it to a wider audience and I don’t wanna give people a reason … to say, ‘I’m not gonna listen to that guy.’”

Maniscalco’s multiple mini-residencies at Borgata since the middle of the last decade have afforded McGann the opportunity to spend a good deal of time in Atlantic City. And he appears to have developed a real affection for that little corner of the universe and its permanent and temporary inhabitants.

“I have always loved those crowds,” he offered. “I feel like it’s such a great vibe of locals and people that are getting away, coming down from Philly and New York. It really gave me an opportunity to get the vibe of Atlantic City and to explore the area a little bit.

“I got to take my kids there and, I showed ’em Lucy the Elephant. We had a good time.”

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Hard Rock rocks brunch

The peak-season months bring with them the introduction of the Sunday champagne brunch at Council Oak Steaks and Seafood Restaurant at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

The elegant smorgasbord appears to be doing its best to make sure guests are filled to the brim: For starters, when they’re seated, diners are presented with cinnamon pull-apart sweet bread with warm Madagascar vanilla icing.

From there, it’s off to the ice sculpture raw bar featuring oysters, clams, and individual portions of tuna tartare or the carving station, which boasts 28-day, dry-aged New York strip steak and a Kessler pork rack with stone-ground mustard sauce.

For the more traditional all-you-can-eaters, the bill of fare includes a salad bar and such breakfast dishes as scrambled, cage-free eggs; butcher-cut applewood smoked bacon; and Thuman’s sausage, home fries and French toast (albeit angel food cake French toast with banana custard and warm maple syrup). A la carte items – among them eggs Benedict – are also available.

And, of course, there is plenty in the way of sweet stuff, including a selection of Viennese-style desserts and pastries created by acclaimed Hard Rock executive pastry check Thaddeus DuBois.

As for adult beverages, guests can enjoy Council Oak’s inventory of more than 350 wines, specialty cocktails and top-shelf spirits.

The Sunday champagne brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at $79.95 per person (alcoholic beverages not included). Reservations are recommended. Go to

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