Monday, October 31, 2016

Super Fool VI Recap

BY JAMES J. HAMILTON (Pittsburgh Comedy Intramural Sports Beat Writer)
PITTSBURGH—The sixth annual Pittsburgh comedians' flag football game almost didn't happen. "Let's just Snapchat a few plays and pretend we played the game," said Mike Sasson. With five of the eventual fourteen participants showing up late, it was almost an hour after the scheduled kickoff time before there were enough people to play. "I wish I had some wine right now," said Matt Light in pregame warm-ups. Most of the players appeared to be severely hungover and more than one reported snorting cocaine night before. So, a typical Super Fool Sunday.


Degeneration X
Matt Light (captain)
Ray Zawodni
Dustin Dowling
Collin Chamberlin
Brandon Schell
Shannon Norman
Blair Parker

The Mike Sasson Show
Mike Sasson (captain)
Ed Bailey
Will Ness
Alex Homyak
Sean Collier
Amanda Averell
Matt Stanton

After winning the coin toss, Degeneration X marched down the field, only to have quarterback Ray Zawodni's pass intended for Matt Light intercepted in the endzone by Ed Bailey.

Mike Sasson Show quarterback Matt Stanton took advantage of having former MVPs Bailey and Will Ness in his receiving corps, targeting them heavily on a seven-play drive that ended with a touchdown reception by Bailey.

Degeneration X kept pace on its ensuing possession, with Zawodni hitting Light with a long bomb for a touchdown.

1  The Mike Sasson Show
1  Degeneration X

The Mike Sasson Show wasted no time responding, with Stanton throwing a touchdown pass to Ness. "Look at that lasso dick swinging around in the endzone!" said Alex Homyak.

Degeneration X evened the score again, with Collin Chamberlin gaining a first down and then catching another pass for a touchdown.

2  The Mike Sasson Show
2  Degeneration X
The Mike Sasson Show offense continued to be unstoppable on its next possession, with Bailey beating Light to haul in a jump-ball in the endzone.

On the next drive, after having his touchdown called back because of a forward lateral from Dustin Dowling, Zawodni kept Degeneration X in the game by connecting with Blair Parker for a touchdown pass. 

3  The Mike Sasson Show
3  Degeneration X

At this point in the game, the Homestead skies darkened and the field was beset by strong winds and pouring rain. "This is more fun than Super Fool II," said Shannon Norman, "when I got loaded on malt liquor and broke up with my girlfriend." The game had been neck-and-neck thus far, but Mike Sasson Show's Stanton and Bailey were about to take over and roll their team to victory.

After hitting Bailey for their third touchdown connection of the game, Stanton turned the tables on Degeneration X by intercepting Zawodni on the first play of the ensuing drive. One play later, Bailey caught yet another touchdown pass from Stanton to ice the game.

5  The Mike Sasson Show
3  Degeneration X
As soon as the final point was scored, players ran to the parking lot to take cover from the downpour, not sticking around for post-game interviews, a group photo, or even to trash-talk each other. Though his team won the Super Fool, Will Ness lost by leaving his sunroof open during the rainstorm. 
Sasson makes sure his defense has the opposing team covered
Mike Sasson Show captain Mike Sasson should be credited for putting together a championship roster. He drafted his players based on heart and athleticism, as opposed to Light, who picked those he most wanted to get drunk with or have sex with. Sasson's last minute acquisition of undrafted free agent Matt Stanton to replace no-show Ron Renwick was a game-changer. Stanton, the runner-up in MVP voting, took over at quarterback—the big question mark on Sasson's roster—and turned in a flawless performance, throwing a touchdown pass on every possession while avoiding costly turnovers. Sasson noted that two NFL GMs hail from his alma mater UConn. Super Fool VI shows that the NFL may be ready for a third.
Matt Light: Worse than Hitler?
Degeneration X captain Matt Light entered the game expecting a third straight Super Fool victory and third MVP trophy, but he was handed a crushing defeat instead. He scored his team's first touchdown (his only reception), but spent the rest of the game dropping an easy interception and getting posterized by Ed Bailey, who Light passed on with the first overall pick. Maybe Light would've played better if he hadn't stayed up until 7:00 a.m. the night before getting drunk while dressed as French maid Hitler. As the only person who actually cares about this game, Light will have an entire year to live with the shame of his ignominious Super Fool defeat. "I hate losing," said Light as he walked dejectedly to his car in the rain. At least he won an award for his Halloween costume, presumably for being the only person awful enough that he can dress up as Hitler and it’s demeaning to Hitler.

Almost all of the participants in Super Fool VI made their mark on the stat sheet. Even Alex Homyak, who had vowed to “ride a tsunami of vodka onto the field,” registered a tackle. The only player to be shut out in all official categories was Shannon Norman. Norman’s stats read like Bluto Blutarsky’s grades: Zero point zero.
Ed Bailey: "Shannon looks like he swallowed the Lucky Charms leprechaun."
Unfortunately for Norman, the Super Fool’s statisticians do not keep official stats for talking on your cell phone on the field in the middle of a play. “No, I can talk now,” Norman said to the person on the other end of his call (presumably a drug dealer) while the Mike Sasson Show marched down the field for yet another touchdown. Norman was also the unofficial leader in cases of Iron City Light brought, with a league-high one. “Help yourself to an IC Light, guys, they’re under the jean jacket,” Norman said. Zawodni replied “I feel like that’s a sentence you’ve said many times in your life.”


Awards are voted on by the Pittsburgh Comedy Intramural Sports Writers' Association.


Winner: Ed Bailey

With 8 receptions, 4 touchdown catches, and an interception, Ed Bailey ran away with the MVP award, turning in what was perhaps the most dominating performance in Super Fool history. "This is the Ed Bailey show," said Homyak after one of Bailey's many touchdowns. "He is beating the fuck out of me," said Light, who had the unfortunate job of trying to cover Bailey for most of the afternoon. Bailey adds this award to his Super Fool III MVP, tying Light as the only other player with two MVPs.


Winner: Blair Parker

The Brad Ryan Spirit Award is given to a player who left it all on the field. This year's BSRA goes to Blair Parker, the last overall pick.

"What are the rules for puking on the field? Is that allowed?" asked Parker, who showed up covered in glitter from what this reporter will presume was a Halloween costume and not the late shift at Club Erotica. Reportedly nursing a vicious hangover, Parker nevertheless brought intensity to her first Super Fool. Instead of calling for the ball by saying "I'm open," she yelled "Yo! What the fuck!" That approach apparently got the attention of her team's quarterback, as only MVP Ed Bailey caught more passes than her. Overcoming rampant sexism, Parker celebrated her touchdown catch by chanting "I was picked last! I was picked last!" It's safe to say that Parker, who almost threw up in the car on the way to the game, will not be picked last again next year. "She is a savage," said Light.

Despite suffering a separated shoulder toward the end of the game, Dustin Dowling only finished second in BRSA voting. Dowling separates his shoulder so often (he did it in pregame warm-ups too) that nobody cares anymore, as evidenced by the fact that everyone just left him laying on the turf, with no one really worried about him. If you want the BRSA, you better get hurt bad enough to go to the hospital, like Brad Ryan did twice. Otherwise, you’re just a pussy.


Winner: James J. Hamilton

For the third straight year, this award goes to James J. Hamilton. Without him, the Super Fool would be the proverbial tree falling in the forest without making a sound.

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, October 30, 2016

This is Halloween - by Michael Buzzelli

Halloween is hard. On a normal weekday, I stand in front of my closet for 10 minutes deciding what to wear. I want to look professional, comfortable and match clothes just enough so I look right, but not so much that I look like I’m wearing adult-sized Garanimals.

On Halloween, things get tricky (and treaty). I need a good costume, preferably handmade. My best costumes have been my own creations. One year, I went as “Convergence” by Jackson Pollock. I took a tan shirt and tan pants and splattered them with seven different colors of paint. The piece de resistance was the small gold placard I wore on my left foot: Convergence. Jackson Pollock. 1952. Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

Two years ago, I covered myself with gray paint samples from Lowes and went as “Fifty Shades of Gray.” It was the cheapest costume I’ve ever worn, and I got a million compliments.

One year, I created my own Fred Flintstone costume with orange and black felt. I cut a jagged piece of blue cloth to be a tie. Of course, at the time, I lived in Los Angeles and I could freely expose my knees without worrying about getting hypothermia.

Side note: I told a Fred Flintstone joke not too long ago to an audience of millennials. I was surprised that it didn’t go over well. It turns out most of the 20-somethings didn’t know who I was talking about. It’s been almost 20 years since the John Goodman movie, and more than 30 since it aired after school on a major network. I felt like an actual member of a Stone Age family.

But I digress, like I do. I have to find a costume that matches my body type. I have limited choices. Flintstone was my go-to guy. I can dress like Fred, Mr. Incredible or deliveryman Doug Heffernan from “King of Queens.”

One year, I did dress as Mama June from TV’s “Honey Boo Boo.” My friend Ryan and I bedazzled pink tutus and wore curly blonde wigs. In every picture that year, I made the Mama June face. It was this puckered expression with one eye partially closed. I look baked in every single photo.

I like costumes that capture the cultural zeitgeist, but I won’t go as a presidential candidate. I like funny costumes, not scary ones. Hillary’s white pantsuit would look particularly unflattering on me. Just think about the number of Troll dolls you’d have to scalp to make a Trump wig! It’s mind-boggling. 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.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Super Fool VI Preview

BY JAMES J. HAMILTON (Pittsburgh Comedy Intramural Sports Beat Writer)

PITTSBURGH—At high noon on Sunday, October 30th, Pittsburgh comedians will gather at Steel Valley High School's Campbell Field to participate in Super Fool VI, the sixth annual comedians' flag football game. Earlier this week, captains Matt Light and Mike Sasson drafted their teams at the Beerhive. Here's a preview of the matchup:
The Kliq a/k/a Degeneration X
Matt Light (captain)
Ray Zawodni (1)
Dustin Dowling (4)
Collin Chamberlin (6)
Brandon Schell (8)
Shannon Norman (10)
Blair Parker (12)

Matt Light and Ray Zawodni have teamed up to lead their side to victory in each of the last three Super Fool games. Light said he plans to make it four in a row and also claim the MVP for himself for the third time.

Even though there were other previous MVPs on the draft board, Light selected Zawodni first overall because he is "a franchise quarterback." Zawodni's quarterback skills will be put to the test with his team having only a couple proven receiving talents for him to throw to. Light said he also picked Zawodni because they both have DUIs and could split an Uber home from the game. 

Despite his top-heavy roster, Light was satisfied with his draft picks. "I'm just glad Sean Collier's not on my team," Light said. "He's terrible." 

Shannon Norman is slated to return to the gridiron for the first time since Super Fool II. No word on whether he plans to wear capri pants again this time. 

Collin Chamberlin said he plans to contribute to his team on Sunday by bringing a case of bottled water, which is good because he was held without a catch last year by Amanda Averell, who said she plans to cover Chamberlin again this year. 

Blair Parker will make her first Super Fool appearance and will likely have a chip on her shoulder after being picked last overall, behind a lot of dudes who probably can't walk up the stairs at Beerhive without getting winded. 

The key to victory for The Kliq could be the fact that Matt Light cares about this way more than everyone else combined and will stop at nothing to win. "This is a chance for everyone to see I'm better than them at something besides comedy," he said. "Or however you want to rewrite that to make it sound smart."

The Mike Sasson Show
Mike Sasson (captain)
Ed Bailey (2)
Will Ness (3)
Ron Renwick (5)
Alex Homyak (7)
Sean Collier (9)
Amanda Averell (11)

Mike Sasson named his team The Mike Sasson Show in an effort to use the Super Fool to get some name recognition for his internet radio show. "Nobody ever heard of roses before the Rose Bowl," Sasson said. Sasson is obviously trying to cash in on the publicity of having the name of his show appear in this article, which will be read by literally dozens of people.

Despite being an actual football coach and former NCAA Division I player, Sasson has little hope of applying his football acumen to this game, saying his past attempts to get unfocused and unathletic comedians to follow a coherent strategy have been like herding cats. "I've coached seventh graders and they were miles ahead of this group."

Sasson's team will be anchored by his first two picks, former MVPs Will Ness and Ed Bailey. Ness said he believed his chances of repeating as MVP were "Not good" because he hasn't been working out. When asked whether he thought he needed to work out to be MVP of this group, he conceded that was a "Fair point."

The big question mark for this team is who will play quarterback. Sasson suggested that he may pursue a quarterback by committee approach. Ron Renwick could be looking to continue is all-time perfect quarterback rating (having thrown a TD on his only pass attempt), but may not have the confidence to do so. Hopefully he picked up some tips while holding the first down markers at Duquesne games.
First-time participant Alex Homyak is an unknown talent who could turn out to be this year's sleeper. Sasson said Homyak's effectiveness could turn on his activities the night before the game. "If Alex stays sober," Sasson said, "that would probably hurt his play."

Analysts say these two teams look equally matched and Vegas oddsmakers have the game at even money. There are also several players who have strong chances at winning MVP. Super Fool "glory" is up for grabs for whoever steps up big on Sunday.
Additionally, competition for the Brad Ryan Spirit Award is wide open this year. Won the last two years by Brad Ryan himself, the BRSA is anyone's to win following Ryan's forced retirement after his career-ending shoulder injury last year. Whoever follows in Ryan's footsteps and ends up in the hospital on Sunday is the favorite for this award. 

Unfortunately, the major story of this game could be the historically low level of participation. Only 14 comics signed up for the draft and, given that a handful of players drafted usually don't show up to the game, there may be barely enough people to even play. What accounts for comics' lack of interest this year? Are they getting sick of this game? Are they afraid to get roasted by an award-winning* sports writer? Or is it that more and more people just hate Matt Light? Probably the last one. In any event, don't miss what could be the final Super Fool. 

Super Fool VI
Sunday, October 30, 2016
12:00 PM
Campbell Field, Steel Valley High School

*Winner, James J. Hamilton Award for Excellence in Journalism (2014, 2015)

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, 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.