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.

The old name game

June 6, 2014

My friend Brian and I went to an art exhibit opening this week. We were out being the bon vivants of 'Burgh Vivant, a local culture website where we discuss theater, art, music and film in Pittsburgh. I get to see plays and write reviews about them. It’s nice work if you can get it.

I know that going to an art gallery exhibit sounds hoity-toity, but it was really about trying to drink free booze and look at paintings of naked people.

At one point, someone came up to me and started chatting. After a few minutes, Brian wandered away. When I circled back to him, he jokingly said, “Who’s your friend?”

For the record, he was joking, because he said it like Leslie Ann Warren’s gun moll in “Victor/Victoria.” But, like Ms. Scarlet, I didn’t have a “Clue.” I told him, “I don’t remember his name.”

I’m not good with names and faces, which is odd because I have both a name and a face.

Usually, when I’m hanging out with friends I have to prep them. I have a series of hand signals my friends are supposed to memorize, like a baseball coach.

When I clasp my hands together it’s my friends’ signal to introduce each other. When I tug on my ear it means it’s time to leave: It’s the old Carol-Burnett-I’m-So-Glad-We-Had-This-Time-Together signal. When I put my hand to my nose, it means you’ve followed instructions perfectly; that one is from charades. Sometimes, it just means I have the sniffles.

I have a backup plan for when I forget to brief someone about the hand gestures. I’m going to share this with you in case you have a similar problem. I’ll say, “I’m off to the men’s room. Introduce yourselves.”

You can only pull that one once or twice a night before you risk getting a speech about your prostate health. At a party with a bunch of medical professionals, I was told to drink more cranberry juice.

Once, I tried an old chestnut. I said, “I’m sorry. How do you spell your last name again?”

They responded with, “B-U-Z-Z-E-L-L-I. Same as yours.”

I guess I shouldn’t have tried that one at a family reunion.

I don’t always forget people’s names. Sometimes, I have an idea, but I don’t want to guess incorrectly.

A few months ago, a woman stuck her hand out to a friend of mine and said, “Hi. I’m Cathy,” and I exclaimed, “YES! That’s it!” I suspect she was on to me.

Recently, a total stranger came up to me and said, “You’re Mike – the writer.” I struggled to put a name with the face, but I couldn’t figure it out at all. I drew a total blank. Finally, the stranger said, “You don’t know me, but I read your column every week.”

Sometimes, I forget that my face is in the newspaper. I spent years trying to get famous, yet when someone finally recognized me, it freaked me out a little. One guy recognized me one time. I can’t imagine what it might be like to be a Kardashian.

Next time you see me, say hello. I’ll pretend to know your name.



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