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When comedian Sebastian Maniscalco was announced as host of the 2019 VMAs back in June, no one seemed more surprised than Sebastian Maniscalco. “Are you sure they haven’t made a mistake?” he said in the tongue-in-cheek promo clip paired with the news. The joke was that Maniscalco, as a 46-year-old dude, didn’t know the heavy hitters of our time by name—and in fact thought that Cardi B was either a spice or a supplement.
But taking the stage directly after Taylor Swift’s triumphant, intimate opening performance of “You Need to Calm Down” and “Lover,” Maniscalco got right out there with a joke that directly cast Lil Nas X’s horse (which he left at home tonight) as an emotional support animal in a sea of stereotypical hallmarks of entitlement among millennials and Gen Zers.
If you feel triggered or offended at any point during the show, Maniscalco joked, there’s a safe space backstage complete with “stress balls and a blankie.” That’s where the horse will be, too. There at the Prudential Center in downtown Newark, New Jersey—”Celebrating music as it was intended, in a hockey rink, in the middle of Newark!” as he quipped—Maniscalco went for some quick venom.
“Personally, I would remove you from the arena, put you in your car, and send you home, but they opted for the safe space,” he said. This came after a quick crack about his mom frying up zucchini, which led to the smokiness of the stage, in advance of the New Jersey Devils’s upcoming home opener.
Naturally, given the venue, he shouted out statewide icon Bruce Springsteen, eliciting a massive cheer from fellow Garden State native Halsey, and called him Jersey’s longtime and original influencer. He admitted that he, as a nearly 50-year-old man, had just found out what “shade” meant in preparation for the show.
And he issued an apparently necessary reminder to the young folks out there: They’re only giving one award per category… because not everyone gets a participation trophy. But let’s hope everyone in the arena gets time with Lil Nas X’s emotional support horse. They all deserve it.
The 2019 MTV Video Music Awards have touched down at The Prudential Center in New Jersey, airing live on MTV. See the full list of winners and keep up with all of the night’s biggest VMA moments!