Mike Buzzelli

Column Mike Buzzelli

Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and published author. He is a theater and arts critic for 'Burgh Vivant, Pittsburgh's online cultural talk magazine, and an active board member of the Pittsburgh New Works Festival, the Carnegie Arts Initiative and the Carnegie Screenwriters. His book, "Below Average Genius" is a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column here in the Observer-Reporter.

A true Pittsburgh dad

March 1, 2013

Most people remember the crazy stuff their parents have said to them over their lifetime.

“Don’t make that face or it’ll freeze like that,” “Close the door, we don’t live in a barn,” and the immortal, “When I was your age, I walked five miles to school. Uphill. Both ways!”

My dad said and did some funny things. Not enough that William Shatner could star in a sitcom about them, but we’ve had some funny exchanges.

He said all the prerequisite ones, including all the ones you’ve heard Curt Wootton shout out in an episode of “Pittsburgh Dad,” including, “What? Am I heating the whole neighborhood? Close the window (winda),” and “We don’t pee until Breezewood.” A few weeks ago, when I watched the YouTube clip of Curt’s Pittsburgh Dad yelling those very words to his off-screen children, I almost did pee a little.

If you’ve never seen Chris Preksta and Curt Wootton’s “Pittsburgh Dad,” check it out (aht). It will bring back some fond childhood memories.

In the late ’80s, I was living at home after a brief stint living in Virginia Beach. I remember I came home from work one day, and he said, “Are you home?”

It seemed like an odd question to ask me to my face. I shot back with, “No. I’m not here.”

I remember during this time, I came home one Saturday morning at 7 a.m. He was out front mowing the grass. He said, “Where were you?”

I said, with all the snark of a sitcom teenager, “Do you REALLY want to know?”

If we were on Fox, you would have heard “Ohhhh,” in the background. You know, like every time Christina Applegate talked back to Ed O’Neill.

One time, my family was rummaging through some old photographs. My mom picked one up. My brother and I were between 4 and 6 years old in the picture. We were wearing plaid, and we had crewcuts. It was a ghastly sight. We were standing on the porch of our old house in Upper St. Clair.

She inquired, “When was this taken?”

She turned it over and found that my dad had written “This year” on the back. In his defense it was “this year” when he wrote it. It just wouldn’t be “this year” any other year. A lot had happened in between the time he wrote “this year” and the time when we were looking at the picture. When he wrote it, Nixon was in the White House.

My dad and I didn’t always get along. He clung to some old-fashioned values, and I did not. He went to church every Sunday. I love Saturday night more than Sunday morning, and I can only seem to get my butt in a pew for weddings and funerals. But he loved people, and he loved making them laugh.

I guess we were more alike than we were different.

He’s been gone for a few years now. Today, March 2, would have been his birthday. Happy birthday, dad. You are gone but never forgotten.



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