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.

Flying high with the superheroes

July 12, 2013

Across the country in San Diego, the world’s largest comic book convention (Comic-Con) starts next week. People will spend four to five days talking about Superman, Batman and Iron Man while dressed as Superman, Batman and Iron Man. More than 130,000 attendees will descend on San Diego’s Convention Center like Spider-Man descending on a bank robber. There will be a lot of Black Widows, Elektras and Catwomen. I went to Comic-Con a few years ago. It was an awesome sight. I didn’t dress up, but I was envious of all the people who came in bright, colorful costumes. These unconventional conventioneers call it “cosplay,” meaning “costume play.” I still call it dressing up. I have never dressed up as a superhero. I’m a bit too large to be walking around in spandex. No one wants to see that. I will, however, admit to being a geek. I fly my geek flag freely.

Some people don’t know the difference between geeks and hipsters. I can enlighten you: If you buy a Flash T-shirt in Urban Outfitters, you’re a hipster; if you buy the same Flash T-shirt at Phantom of the Attic, Pittsburgh Comics or ToonSeum, you’re a geek. I don’t own a Flash T-shirt, but I have hung out with John Wesley Shipp a few times. He played the Flash on TV a while back. Funny thing, last time I saw Shipp was at Hugh Jackman’s one-man show on Broadway.

He was sitting a few rows up from me. I tried to get his attention, but he came in late and the lights went down (in case he reads this and thinks I snubbed him). I tweeted: “I sat near the Flash while watching Wolverine dance.” Neither of them wore their costumes. Bummer. Now that would have been something to see. I think geeks get a bad rap. The definition of geek used to be “expert or enthusiast heavily interested in a hobby.” It became, “a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual.” I blame the fictional Dr. Sheldon Cooper for the pejorative definition. Let’s call them “enthusiasts.” They (myself included) get enthused by seeing their favorite characters from film, television or comics. Who wouldn’t want to shake Captain America’s hand?

My brother Brian went up to Cleveland to work on “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” He got to work with Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson (Captain America and the Black Widow). I was pretty envious, but I didn’t drive up and sneak onto the set. Please. Give me some credit! I’m not Lucy Ricardo. I would encourage every parent I know to pick up a comic book for their kids (consult your local retailer; not all of them are for children). I am convinced that the Fantastic Four taught me how to read. Reading about a stretchy guy, an invisible girl, a flame guy and a rocky orange monster was way more fun than Dick and Jane. No one wants to dress up like Dick and Jane.

Whatever you’re doing, in or out of costume, enjoy the rest of your weekend.



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