Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sent to the Chair - by Mike Buzzelli

I like to talk. Ask anyone. Shutting me up is the problem. However, I have never been a fan of small talk. Ask me about the universe, ghosts, Old Hollywood and GET READY TO … RAMBLE!

Sit me down in a barber chair, and I’m blank.

When I lived in Los Angeles, I used to get my haircut from the Chinese place on Gower. Two reasons: It was cheap, and they didn’t speak much English. Aside from “Haircut five dollar!” I didn’t have to chat with them. The hardest part was explaining how I wanted my hair.

“A number three on the sides and back and blended down.”

It’s so easy to talk with your friends. You know the rules. Whenever you engage in polite social talk with strangers, you have to learn where the boundaries are. Something innocuous like “How about this weather?” can turn into a discussion on climate change. It gets ugly.

Some people also don’t know the rules. When I say, “How are you?” you say, “I’m fine.”

Sometimes you hear, “Well, I have a tennis elbow thing going on. My wife has switched medications and, OH BOY, is it making her moody!” TMI.

The worst place is when I’m getting my hair cut, because I’m a captive audience. Suddenly, I’m listening to someone tell me about their weekend. Then, he will ask me about mine. I never want to contribute too much, because I don’t want to bore him as badly as he is boring me. I’m polite that way.

The No. 1 way to bore someone is to brag pretentiously about your life. When a stylist or barber asks about my weekend, I clam up. My life can sound a little boastful.

He or she will ask, “Doing anything fun this weekend?” I will say, “Not much.”

But when pressed for details, I will tell the truth: “I’m going to the opening of a new play, shooting a video review for ’Burgh Vivant, writing my newspaper column, attending a gala, doing some standup and going to my improv class. You?”

That sounds like a lot from a person they never heard of. My life on the Z List. I’m not Kathy Griffin famous. Heck, I’m not even Sally Wiggin famous.

But I digress, like I do. Here’s the thing. If I’m in the barber’s chair and I know you, I’m going to be invested when you tell me you took your dog to the groomers. If I don’t know you, I might reach for those shears and off myself, or poison myself with that huge jar of tinted blue water the combs are always floating in. What is that stuff?!

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, March 20, 2016

Creatures in my car - By Mike Buzzelli

My car might be haunted. On Sunday, it was making a horrible grinding noise, a very loud grinding noise.

As I sit here making the noise, I bow my head for Tom Magliozzi, popular-but-deceased co-host of the NPR radio show “Car Talk.”

Side note: I loved “Car Talk,” but I find it hard to listen to the reruns knowing the Click half of Click and Clack is no longer with us. May he rest in peace.

But I digress, like I do. I feared driving my car Sunday. On Monday, I set out to drive it to the mechanic. Less than a mile into my journey, the car stopped making the noise. I proceeded to the mechanic’s anyway. Better safe than sorry, as they say. I don’t really know anyone who says that but me. My friends are too cool to spout corny aphorisms.

The mechanic drove it around (maybe he ran errands with it, I don’t know), and found nothing wrong with it. By the way, he didn’t charge me. I hope he at least used it to pick up his dry cleaning.

I was halfway home with it when it made a new and completely different noise. It was like a skittering on the passenger side. I really hope it’s haunted, because I suspect something far worse than ghosts in the machine.

Flashback: Late Saturday night in the Strip District, I ran over a rat. The rat was sitting in the middle of the street. He or she (rats can be girls) looked up at me right as I barreled toward it. I swerved. And then I closed my eyes. Yes, while I was driving. Don’t tell the cops.

I was so terrified I hit it, but I was more terrified I didn’t and that it crawled into the underside of my car and decided to live there.

The following morning is when the noise started. The ride home from the mechanic Tuesday is when it really started to sink in.

I had trouble sleeping Tuesday night. I kept picturing the rat nesting in my car, having babies. See! I told you rats can be girls. They’re actually scarier when they’re girls, now that I think about it.

Side note: Whenever I hear a woman talking about the miracle of birth, I always want to remind people that rats, snakes and spiders have babies. It doesn’t seem as miraculous when it’s a rat having a bunch of rat babies. It’s only a miracle when it’s a dog, cat or human.

So, I’m afraid to look under the car. I don’t want a pregnant rat leaping at my face, trying to protect her brood. 

For the rest of the column, 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!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

This Inspiring History Teacher Refused To Say "Franklin Pierce Was The Greatest President" No Matter How Many Times I Tased Him

By James J. Hamilton
Local 10th grade history teacher Glenn Masterson (or "Mr. M," as he is affectionately known by his students) refused to say "Franklin Pierce was the greatest president" no matter how many times I tased him yesterday during his fifth period American History class.

A hardworking, genial man who inspires pupils with his passion for history, Mr. M has been voted his school's Best Teacher by the student body for the past three years.

Enraged by the universal love and respect Mr. M receives, I recently attended one of his classes, posing as a new student, and attempted to make him debase himself in front of the kids who adore him by coercing him into saying Franklin Pierce was the greatest president. 
Franklin Pierce, 14th President of the United States (1853-57), was a northern Democrat whose polarizing support for the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Fugitive Slave Act deepened North-South conflict and set the stage for Southern secession. An abject failure at worst, well-meaning and mediocre at best, Pierce is consistently ranked among the bottom third of presidents in surveys of historians.

That's why I wanted to get Mr. M to say Pierce was the greatest president. It's obviously not true, so if he said it, his students would think he's a moron and he'd finally be toppled from the goddamn pedestal everyone has him on. 

Yesterday afternoon, in the middle of Mr. M's thoughtful lecture on the root causes of the Civil War, I raised my hand and proposed that Pierce was the greatest president in American history, a champion of freedom, criminally underrated by historians who just don't understand him. While Mr. M conceded that an argument could be made that Pierce was slightly underrated, and that one could plausibly maintain that Pierce was perhaps a middling president, he opined that Pierce was by no measure great and that the greatest president was probably Abraham Lincoln. I declared that Lincoln was a monstrous, Constitution-hating dictator, and Mr. M started saying weirdly hostile things like "There's no way you're in 10th grade, you're like thirty years old."
At that point, I removed a Vipertek VTS-989 Heavy Duty Stun Gun from my backpack, rushed to the front of the classroom, and tased Mr. M in the neck. He instantly dropped to the floor and I stood over him amid the screams of two dozen horrified 10th graders and demanded that he name the greatest president. When Mr. M said "Abraham Lincoln," I tased him again and told him to say Franklin Pierce was the greatest president. Fighting to remain conscious, Mr. M sat up, looked at me, and defiantly said "Pierce was a failure." I tased him a third time and, struggling to be heard over the students' unremitting shrieks, again ordered him to say Franklin Pierce was the greatest president.

In my all-encompassing fury, I failed to notice that a student had run to the main office to get help, and I was suddenly tackled from behind by two security guards who brutally disarmed me and beat me unconscious.

The last thing I saw before I blacked out was Mr. M staring me right in the eye and mouthing the words "Abraham Lincoln."

James J. Hamilton (@jamesjhamilton) is a comedian from Pittsburgh whose awesome genius is matched only by his incredible humility. Check out more of his writing and stand-up HERE on his website. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Goodbye "Abbey" by Mike Buzzelli

“Downton Abbey” is over, and I am a little relieved. It’s nice to have my Sunday nights back. After a laborious season, it’s finally done. I can go to dinner with friends and not have to be home by nine. I am free at last!

Here’s the thing: Toward the end, the show became a hostage situation. I was the Patty Hearst of PBS. I felt compelled to watch, even though I was bored. It was the Newton N. Minow version of Stockholm syndrome. When people say a show is “captivating,” I now know what they mean. It’s like a black dot in their palm.

A friend of mine said, “I gave up on that show three seasons ago.” I couldn’t. I’m a completist. Even though it irked me, I had to see it through.

Certain things bothered me more than others.

If you took a drink every time the Dowager Countess of Grantham said the word “hospital,” you would be on dialysis by now, if you were lucky enough to still be alive. Every episode featured multiple appearances of the word hospital, and, yet, you never actually saw the hospital!

Storylines showed up and then disappeared. There was Baxter’s thief and Spratt’s escaped convict nephew. They were talked about but never seen.

That’s some sort of Chekov’s bait-and-switch right there.

Creator Julian Fellowes had quite a conundrum. We wanted a happy ending for Lady Mary and for Lady Edith, but we also wanted to see them tear each other’s throats out. Most sisters have a love/hate relationship, but these two had a hate/hate relationship. Is that a thing? That should be a thing.

It was pretty weird to see Mary verbally viciously eviscerate her sister in one scene and watch her walk down the aisle in the other. Edith even threw rice!

She probably should have been throwing poisoned ninja stars.

If only the English language was as easy to understand as Downton made it look. Andy learned to read in one episode. He couldn’t get through a whole sentence last Sunday, but in the final episode he had his nose in a book. A thick book. No pictures!

This season was most annoying, as the Brits would say. The episodes crawled by at a glacial pace, and then everything happened in the last two. It’s as if Fellowes didn’t realize his show was ending. P.S. He knew.

The last episode was poorly written. There was little to no conflict with any of the Crawleys, their servants, family and friends. Just happy endings.

I also picture him handing out copies of the final script like Oprah announced those free cars. “You get a happy ending, and you get a happy ending. Everyone gets happy endings!”

Jim Carter (butler and major domo for the Crawley clan) must have looked up at him and said, “What about me?” And everyone looked away sheepishly (sad trombone sound here).

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!

Friday, March 11, 2016

College Freshman Tragically Unaware That’s His Mom’s Ass In Classic Pink Floyd Poster

By James J. Hamilton
College freshman Jake Abbott, whose dorm room wall is decorated by the classic Pink Floyd "Back Catalogue" poster which has graced so many dorm rooms over the years, is tragically unaware that the nude model depicting the cover of Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here is actually his own mother.

Commissioned to promote remastered reissues of Pink Floyd's albums, the photograph was taken in London in 1996, the year Mrs. Abbott spent studying abroad, during which she worked occasionally as a model. The next year, she married Mr. Abbott and gave birth to Jake, who would likely turn to self-mutilation if he were to now learn the truth about his poster. 

"Jake knows I did some modeling when I was younger," said Mrs. Abbott. "Most of it was clothing advertisements. He's seen some of those old pictures. The Pink Floyd shoot was the only risqué thing I did, and I never told Jake about it because I thought it would be embarrassing for him. But then I visited him at college and saw that poster on his wall..."

Mrs. Abbott took a deep drink from a large glass of wine as she contemplated the Oedipal nightmare waiting to happen. "Oh god, I should've told him a long time ago. I didn't think it would ever come up. Who knew that thing was still so popular? Now it's too late. Oh god, what if he looks at it while he... Oh god, no..."     

Jake, blissfully ignorant of the fact that he looks at his mom's hot naked ass on a daily basis, told reporters that Pink Floyd is one of his favorite bands and that he bought the poster, along with posters of Bob Marley and John Belushi, at a poster fair held in his school's quad.

When asked which girl on the poster he thought was the hottest, whether he'd used it to stimulate his imagination during masturbation, and whether he experienced any significant castration anxiety, Jake got all weird and refused to answer. "Why are you asking me a bunch of personal questions?" he said. "It's just a poster."

As Jake would know had he actually done the reading assignments for his Intro to Psychology class, Freud may have said that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but he undoubtedly would've agreed that a poster of your mom's ass is never just a poster.

James J. Hamilton (@jamesjhamilton) is a comedian from Pittsburgh whose awesome genius is matched only by his incredible humility. Check out more of his writing and stand-up HERE on his website. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Oops! I Spent $250k On Reconstructive Surgery To Turn My Dog Into A Cat, Then Found Out Cats Are Basically Free

By James J. Hamilton
In an all-time classic blunder, I recently spent $250k on reconstructive surgery to turn my dog into a cat, then found out afterwards that cats are basically free and you can get them pretty much anywhere.

Don't get me wrong, I liked my dog. I just kinda felt like the whole "dog thing" had pretty much run its course and I was itching to try something new. When I heard about cats, I immediately realized that's what I'd been looking for. 

I put an ad on Craigslist seeking someone who could turn my dog into a cat and I got a response almost instantly. The price tag for the procedure was pretty high, but I really wanted a cat, so I thought, what the hell, let's do it.

Much to my chagrin, when I showed off my modified pet to family and friends, they told me that anyone can get a cat from the local animal shelter, either for free or for a small adoption fee of like fifty bucks. Imagine how stupid I felt. 

To top it off, both myself and the Craigslist guy are now facing felony animal cruelty charges. Our lawyer says we'll each probably have to spend a year in prison, which might not sound like a lot to you, but as my dog's lawyer pointed out, that's seven dog years. Talk about an epic fail.

James J. Hamilton (@jamesjhamilton) is a comedian from Pittsburgh whose awesome genius is matched only by his incredible humility. Check out more of his writing and stand-up HERE on his website. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Strife in the Fast Lane - by Mike Buzzelli

People always ask me, “Weren’t you afraid to drive in Los Angeles?”

I always reply with, “Have you ever driven in Pittsburgh?” Yinz guys, it’s scary out here.

Driving in Southern California was tricky, but everything was pretty well marked.

In Pittsburgh, you have to remember what it looked like decades ago to get anywhere. I cannot turn where the Dairy Queen used to be if I didn’t know where the Dairy Queen was in the first place.

In Los Angeles, there was plenty of distance from one exit to the next. You had plenty of time to get to the proper exit.

That is not the case in the ’Burgh.

I believe that anyone who can get from Banksville Road through the Fort Pitt Tunnel, across four lanes of traffic, to get to Fort Duquesne Boulevard every day can drive anywhere.

When I come out of that tunnel, I have about 100 feet to cross lanes, while people are crisscrossing in front of me.

I’m using some NASCAR-worthy skills. Only instead of a trophy, I get to pay for parking. Yay!

L.A. had lots of five-lane highways and a ton of selfish and impatient people behind the wheel, but I’m beginning to think Pittsburgh has more selfish and impatient people per capita.

The other day, a guy behind me was beeping because I wouldn’t hit the people in the crosswalk. I’d like to apologize to him for not killing the pedestrians. I didn’t realize he was in a hurry to get home to watch reruns of “Modern Family.” I should have at least taken out that old woman. She was walking very slowly. (P.S.: Sarcasm.)

Did Wonder Woman have an invisible car? If she had an invisible plane, she probably had a car to go with it. I think I’ve taken over her lease.

Lately, I’ve had a lot of people drive directly toward me. Suddenly, I’m playing the world’s scariest game of chicken.

The ones not driving at me are trying to back into me. I can see my car, but I don’t think anyone else can.

I’ve given some thought to having and maintaining an invisible car. 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!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Kanye West’s New Album Contains Coded Message Saying Kardashians Are Holding Him Against His Will

By James J. Hamilton
Kanye West's new album The Life of Pablo reportedly contains a coded message saying that the Kardashian family is holding the Grammy-winning rapper against his will.

According to a story published yesterday in the Boston Globe, the newspaper's Spotlight investigative team recently received a package from a source identifying himself as "L. Odom." The package contained a complex cipher and the words "No More Parties In L.A.," which is the title of a song from The Life of Pablo, the seventh studio album by West, who married Kim Kardashian in 2014.

Globe journalist Mike Rezendes (who was portrayed by Mark Ruffalo in the Oscar-winning film Spotlight) spent days poring over the cipher while listening to "No More Parties In L.A." and eventually cracked the code. Rezendes reports that the song's lyrics contain a message from West which, when decoded, states: KARDASHIANS HOLDING ME AGAINST MY WILL SEND HELP I AM A GENIUS.

In the wake of this revelation, footage has surfaced from a 2015 red carpet event in which West can allegedly be seen repeatedly blinking "SOS" in Morse code.

The FBI issued a statement saying it is looking into the situation, and the Globe's Spotlight team said it intends to get to the bottom of this story, citing the possibility that there may be many more people besides West who have been held against their will or otherwise abused by the Kardashians.

James J. Hamilton (@jamesjhamilton) is a comedian from Pittsburgh whose awesome genius is matched only by his incredible humility. Check out more of his writing and stand-up HERE on his website. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

This Will Make You Feel Old: It's Legal To Fuck People Who Were Born After GoldenEye Was Released

By James J. Hamilton
This will make you feel old: Nintendo 64's revolutionary first-person shooter GoldenEye 007 was released in August 1997, over 18 years ago, and it's now totally legal for you to fuck people who weren't even born yet when the game came out.

It was a special time in American history. "MMMBop" was topping the charts, Linda Tripp was secretly recording Monica Lewinsky's phone calls, and you were drinking a new drink called Surge when the bombshell that was GoldenEye was dropped on your world. At the same time, an umbilical cord was being cut on a newborn baby fresh out of its mother's womb. Today, if you were to fuck the living shit out of that baby, no court in the country could convict you. 

Some of you were probably super-excited to unwrap GoldenEye on the morning of December 25, 1997, while across this great nation a horde of mewling, puking infants who couldn't even fathom the concept of presents were crying through their "Baby's First Christmas" photos. But at this very moment, you could be tongue-deep inside one of those kids' assholes while a cop watches, and nothing bad would happen.

You and your friends had already agreed to ban Oddjob in multiplayer before these people could crawl, yet it'd now be 100% above board for you and your friends to triple penetrate their supple young bodies. They were pooping in diapers while you were unlocking Paintball Mode, but as we speak, they're old enough for you to fist, piss on, or do whatever other sick stuff you're into. Stuff Xenia Onatopp wouldn't even do.

And pretty soon, you'll be allowed to do all that stuff to people who were born after you'd already beaten Ocarina of Time.

James J. Hamilton (@jamesjhamilton) is a comedian from Pittsburgh whose awesome genius is matched only by his incredible humility. Check out more of his writing and stand-up HERE on his website. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Local Man Can't Believe It's Already March

By James J. Hamilton
Local man Hank Waters says he can't believe it's already March.

"It seems like Christmas and New Year's were just a few weeks ago," he told reporters. "Next thing you know, St. Patrick's Day and Easter will have come and gone, and it'll be summer."

Waters also reported disbelief about it being Tuesday. "It still feels like Monday to me," he said. "I don't know where the time goes."  

At press time, Waters was saying he couldn't believe it was already press time.
James J. Hamilton (@jamesjhamilton) is a comedian from Pittsburgh whose awesome genius is matched only by his incredible humility. Check out more of his writing and stand-up HERE on his website.