Sunday, October 23, 2016

Jump in the line - by Michael Buzzelli

Many years ago, I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. To be clear, it wasn’t entirely my idea.

My friend Ray was walking down the aisle at Shop ’n Save with two mutual friends of ours and I heard him say, “Mike won’t do it.”

At the time, I was lining up cans of peas on the shelf so that the Jolly Green Giant was looking out at the customers. It wasn’t some OCD thing; I was working there at the time.

But I had heard them mention my name, and I replied, “Mike won’t do what?”

That’s when I learned that Ray was planning a skydiving expedition. Well, I had to go. I didn’t want my friends to think I was chicken. I had a serious case of Marty McFly Syndrome.

A few days later, we were driving off to an airstrip in Canton, Ohio. I was petrified.

Let me be clear. I was terrified of jumping. I wasn’t afraid of Canton, Ohio.

We spent several hours training on the proper use of the equipment. We learned how to operate the parachute. We learned how to use the emergency parachute if the main parachute didn’t open.

I asked, “What do we do if the emergency chute doesn’t open?”

The instructor replied, “Curl up into a ball, and kiss your (butt) goodbye.”

Side note: There’s an old joke about a paratrooper. The Army sergeant says to the private, “Once you jump, there will be a jeep there to pick you up after you land.” The private jumped out of the plane and his chute didn’t open. He tried the reserve chute, and it didn’t open. He said, “Great. I bet the jeep won’t be there to pick me up either.”

I paraphrased the joke and shortened it. Now it’s just a paraphrased paratrooper paragraph.

But I digress, like I do.

I jumped. I actually had to. We went up in a tiny plane. The pilot was the only one who had a seat. I had to kneel next to the pilot on a metal floor. I couldn’t lean forward because I would hit some of the controls. It was very uncomfortable. I couldn’t wait to get off that plane. And I did. Mid-flight.

I was told to stand on the wing and wait for instructions on when to let go. 

For the rest of the story, click here

Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and a sit down author. His book, "Below Average Genius," a collection of humor columns culled from the Observer-Reporter, can be purchased here.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Battle at the Buffet - By Mike Buzzelli

It’s been a busy fall season. I’ve been lucky enough to attend some glamorous galas, benefits and balls. Galas, benefits and balls. Oh my!

However, I noticed a disturbing trend. Civility, even at these posh events, is on the decline.

Recently, at a black-tie event, some well-dressed couple cut the line and pushed in front of me to get at the hors d’oeuvres. There were like 50 people waiting patiently behind me, but these folks thought they could storm the buffet like it was the Bastille. It was a tremendous effort just to stick a blob of spinach dip on a teeny-tiny paper plate.

What is the urgency to grab some veggies, dip and a couple of crackers? I’m quite convinced people will kill over Buffalo chicken dip.

Line jumpers at a concert benefiting the local library! I usually speak up, but the words failed me. I was aghast.

Riddle me this: Why is it easier to scream expletives at a stranger from behind the wheel of a car than it is to say, “Excuse me, but the line starts back there” to a person’s face?

But I digress, like I do.

The real problem seemed to be the people who were at the buffet table carefully choosing their items to place on their fun-sized plates. You’ve got to pick and go. Also, don’t jam up a line talking about how the harpist was amazing. Yes, she was amazing. Keep it moving, people.

Some people park at the buffet or bar, standing in front of it, chittering away about the obo solo, unaware there’s a veritable swarm of black ties and ball gowns behind them. Be conscientious. Get your sparkling wine or miniature meatball and get out of the way.

I have a few ideas on how to put the fun back into your fundraiser.

Don’t put a buffet table by the door. You don’t want people cramming around the only exit. That’s a rookie mistake. The building could go up in flames. Suddenly your party becomes the next Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Too soon?

Instead of one long buffet table, put little food stations throughout the room. Just make sure each table has a noteworthy menu item. You can’t stick the crudité in a corner and hope people will glide over there. No one travels for celery. Make sure you park some crab cakes on the distant tables. Remember, a lot of these women are wearing high heels, but they will sprint for shrimp.

Place the bar and the desserts at the opposite end of the room. People will loop around for spirits and sweets. For the rest of the story, click here

Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and a sit down author. His book, "Below Average Genius," a collection of humor columns culled from the Observer-Reporter, can be purchased here.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Send in the Clowns - by Michael Buzzelli

Clowns are descending upon American towns and terrorizing people. No. Not politicians campaigning for re-election. Even scarier clowns!

Someone is sending in the clowns, and it’s freaking people out. The whole thing is nothing to shake a stick at, unless you’re a ringmaster.

If you have coulrophobia or any clown-related fears, read no further. There were some legitimate attacks and serious high-level pranking, and I do want to be sensitive to everyone involved. For some, clowns are no laughing matter. However, my profession as a standup comedian and humor columnist precludes me from taking this too seriously. I mean, clowns. Clowns! I stared at the articles saying, “Seriously?!” over and over again. It seems so bizarre, but these fools are showing up in the woods and being generally creepy.

There was a clown-related incident on Penn State’s campus Oct. 4. The clown activity was suspected to be a fraternity hazing activity. According to Penn State’s Collegian newspaper, “Hundreds of students ran through the campus Monday night after multiple sightings and reports about clowns in the area. A giant image of a clown was projected onto the Beaver Hill apartments, and there was no word on who was responsible for the projected image.” I blame Stephen King and his killer clown, Pennywise.

The Ford City police issued a statement, “Due to the high volume of sightings over the U.S., the Ford City Police will be proactively patrolling the streets and challenging anyone dressed up like a clown, including during Trick or Treating.” They are urging people to apply common sense at Halloween, and NOT to apply white pancake makeup. They warn, “Dress like a clown, plan on meeting the police.” I would add, “On Halloween, if you dress like a clown, plan on meeting a policeman, a cowboy, a French maid and a sexy vampire.”

I bet money they’re going to bust some 7-year-old going door to door looking for mini-Milky Ways and tiny Kit Kats.

Meanwhile, the mischievous clowns in question are popping up all over the country. The phenomenon even prompted Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey to release a statement. The circus people said, “It is troubling because it’s a distraction for our clowns, who just want to make people laugh and smile.” Um. No one brought up John Wayne Gacy at the news conference.

I am seeing the horror/comedy movie in my head. A young attractive freshman spots size-20 footprints outside her dorm. She hears honking in the distance. Is it wild geese or the killer clown’s nose?

For the rest of the story, click here

Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and a sit down author. His book, "Below Average Genius," a collection of humor columns culled from the Observer-Reporter, can be purchased here.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Unhappy Hour - by Michael Buzzelli

After a week of discomfort (read: PAIN!), I had to see a doctor about my shoulder. I went to the place my brother Brian lovingly refers to as “Doc in the Box.”

I was on my way home from work, and I waved at someone for letting me merge into the lane. Realizing it had been more than a week and I couldn’t get my arm up to my ear made me detour to the doc. It was my first time in the fast food of medicine, and I didn’t know what to expect. It looked like any other medical facility. It just happened to be open after 5. It was brimming over with sick people. It was like Happy Hour, except no one was happy.

I looked around at people in various levels of distress. They played contemporary music over the PA. I think Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” was an odd choice in a medical office, but I guess they don’t pick and choose the music. I hoped no one was in the back room getting a fatal diagnosis while their spouse bopped to the music: “How do you think I’m going to get along, without you when you’re gone?”

Finally, they called my name. I never got to see the big renovation reveal on the HGTV show that was playing in the waiting room. I assume it went from shack to spectacular. It usually does.

I went back into the little room and went through the regular routine. The nurse asks a bunch of questions and then the doctor comes in and asks the same questions. Can we cut out the middlewoman next time? He decided he needed more information before he moved my arm around willy-nilly.

The nurse came back and took me to another room. It was time to pose for X-rays. She said, “Turn slightly this way. That’s it,” and “Now, I need a three-quarter turn. Perfect.” I said, “I used to model.” She believed me. Had she inquired further, I would have told her I was J.C. Penney’s Husky Boy jeans model in the mid-to-late ‘80s. It wouldn’t have been true, but I like to keep myself amused.

After the doctor examined the X-rays, he came back. I am assuming he put his hand to his chin and said, “Hmmm” several times before returning to me.

The doctor told me I probably sprained my AC joint. I didn’t even know my joints were alphabetized. Don’t ask me where the B went. He talked to me about my clavicle, and I told him I never played. It turns out the clavicle is a bone and not a woodwind instrument. I was pretty sure I heard someone play the clavicle at Heinz Hall, but I must have been mistaken.

For the rest of the story, click here

Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and a sit down author. His book, "Below Average Genius," a collection of humor columns culled from the Observer-Reporter, can be purchased here.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

What happened to the Y? - by Michael Buzzelli

You may recall I injured my shin Labor Day weekend in the swimming pool. It’s recovering nicely. Thank you (I’m sure you would have asked if we were chatting).

It should have been a warning sign to keep out of the water. Last week, I was at the beach in Corolla, N.C. That’s when I sustained a new injury.

I was riding the waves and crashed. I went from bodysurfing to body slamming. A huge wave came and tried to murder me. It smashed me into the ground, sea floor or sandy bottom. Major ouch! I hit the shoulder first, tumbled upside down and hit my head, ass over tea kettle. Luckily, I did not hurt my thick skull.

They took X-rays of my head and found nothing. Ba-dum Tshh!

However, I wrecked my shoulder.

I didn’t break anything, but I’m walking around with my arm folded onto my chest like a chicken wing. When I reach for a cold beverage with my right hand, I don’t extend my arm past my elbow. If you see me from the right side, I look like a Tyrannosaurus Rex reaching for a glass of iced tea. I’m fairly certain dinosaurs did not drink tea. They are coffee drinkers.

With these mounting monthly injuries, I should, at least, have a contract with the Steelers. Since the newspaper does not have an injured reserve list, I’m unable to collect from the bench. I’m typing this column with one hand. I can type with two hands if I pull the keyboard in tight; T-Rex on a laptop. Once again, I feel the need to point out you’d be hard-pressed to find even a velociraptor that can type more than 40 words per minute.

If anyone asks a group of people a question, I have to rudely blurt out the answer, as I currently can’t raise my hand above my head. I can only make the MCA of dancing to the Village People. Think about that for a second. It’s what professional comedians call a slow-burner.

I have another problem. I am unable to say no to people.

A few days after my shoulder was personally introduced to sand and sea shells, a friend asked me to help him carry stuff from his car. Everything in the trunk of his car was heavy.

I hoisted a bunch of items with my good arm and, since neither of us wanted to make a second trip, I carried a case of beer with my bad one. I remember telling everyone to drink up. I was terrified I’d have to carry the case of beer again. If you were with me Saturday night and got wasted, it’s on me. Sorry about that.

For the rest of the story, click here
Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and a sit down author. His book, "Below Average Genius," a collection of humor columns culled from the Observer-Reporter, can be purchased here.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Call me...maybe - By Michael Buzzelli

E.T. phoned home, but some extraterrestrials may be phoning us.

According to Reuters late last month, scientists are investigating a mysterious signal from space. Russian astronomers detected a non-naturally occurring radio signal some 94 light years from Earth. Cue the “Twilight Zone” music.

Technically, the signal was heard a year ago, but scientists are still investigating.

Personally, I’m thinking they were keeping it from us, but I also believe there was a second shooter on the grassy knoll.

I believe. The truth is out there. Yada. Yada. Yada. I’ve always been a believer. I blame Klaatu and Helen Benson. I blame Kirk and Spock. I blame Dr. Smith and that robot. I grew up on space ships and flying saucers. I mean, I’m fond of them, I didn’t literally grow up on a space ship. I have a birth certificate from here.

If you look up at the vast array of stars and imagine there are planets around some of those stars, it’s easy to believe they are out there. Even if this one is a false alarm, one day we could get a real message.

I, personally, am ready to meet them. Maybe I’m ready/not ready.

The prospect is both exhilarating and frightening, but I’m intrigued about the concept.

If they made first contact, I’m curious about what they would say.

I hope their first call to Earth isn’t Dominos. We’ll never be able to get a pizza there in 30 minutes or less. Let’s face it, they’re 94 light years away. We couldn’t guarantee that pizza would be there this century.

If they do say hello, I’m hoping they’re nice (less “Star Trek,” and more “My Favorite Martian”). I do not need a “Hide your wife, hide your kids. We’re coming for you” kinda message. Let’s shoot for friendly.

But we have to play it cool. We can’t be too nice back. We can’t just invite them over right away.

The next thing you know we’re out cutting the grass, and they swing by just to chat for a bit. I have to make sure I have extra beer in the fridge, just in case.

We can’t just fly to the moon dressed in any old thing anymore. We’re going to have to look presentable. Those silver spacesuits have to go.

We get too friendly, and Earth becomes a tourist destination.

No one wants that.

Think of all the extra traffic, especially if they tell other aliens about us. Imagine the sign on store windows: “We accept Visa, Mastercard and Dilithium Crystals, Galactic Credit Standard, Chronodollars, Zulacks and Space Bucks.” I don’t know what we’d sell them except for “My parental units went to Earth, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt” T-shirt.

For the rest of the story, click here

Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and a sit down author. His book, "Below Average Genius," a collection of humor columns culled from the Observer-Reporter, can be purchased here.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Terror on the tibia

I don’t normally carry over plot threads from previous columns. This is not “Mary Worth” or “Rex Morgan, M.D.” However, last week, I told faithful readers about slipping, falling and smacking my shin at the pool. It’s getting better, but it still hurts.

I don’t wince when I walk, and I can get down on my hands and knees and clean the bathtub without crying. We’re putting those small victories in the win column. I still have some difficulty driving, because when I press my foot on the accelerator, it moves a bunch of leg muscles at once. Those leg muscles hate me. Also, I’m afraid of things that are only shin high, like coffee tables and toddlers.

I picked a weird week to join a gym.

There are a few things you should know before I go any further. I won’t say I’m cheap, but I don’t like to spend money. When I heard a national gym chain was running a Labor Day special, I limped at the chance to join. Normally, I’d jump at such a chance, but see above. There’s something else you should know: I think of the day after Labor Day as the saddest day of the year. It’s the day they drain the community swimming pools. In a counter move to my post-Labor Day blues, I joined the gym because they have a swimming pool! Frankly, I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before. Clearly, I’m frugal and stupid.

My shin doesn’t hurt when I’m sleeping or swimming. I wanted more time in the water and less time saying, “Ouch.” Therefore, I joined the local fitness center.

When the saleswoman signed me up, I told her, “I hurt my shin. For now, I just want to use the pool.” She replied, “Well, you get a free training session. Ryan will show you how to use all the machines.”

A bell went off when I heard the word “free.” I guess I am cheap.

I met Ryan the Trainer. It’s a title like Conan the Barbarian, and they had very similar builds. I told Ryan the Trainer I couldn’t do leg stuff. He probably hears that a lot, because I saw a lot of top-heavy guys with chicken legs as we toured the facility.

Here’s the thing. At the gym, there were a lot of metal bars protruding from every which way. A lot of them are shin high. My frugality and desire to keep swimming after Labor Day plopped me down in the middle of my very own nightmare scenario. It was like I designed a torture chamber for my shin: The auto-de-fibula. Terror on the tibia!

I stared down at a lot of frightening contraptions. Ryan would say, “OK, this is the butterfly curl. To work this quadrant on your arms … you sit down here and you wrap your legs around this.”

“Um. No. I can’t put my legs on that. That puts pressure right on my hurty spot.”

For the rest of the story, click here

Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and a sit down author. His book, "Below Average Genius," a collection of humor columns culled from the Observer-Reporter, can be purchased here.